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This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

A quiet week on the corrupt cops front this week. We've got a pill-poppin' New England trooper stealing from the dead and a former New Orleans cop caught trying to peddle dope. Let's get to it:

In Bridgeport, Connecticut, a former state trooper rejected a plea bargain and will instead face trial on charges he stole money and property from a motorcyclist killed in a traffic accident. Former Trooper Aaron Huntsman turned down a plea bargain that would have seen him do a year in jail, but now faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted. Huntsman claimed he was strung out on prescription pain pills when he committed the theft, which was caught on his cruiser's camera, and he went into treatment after his arrest.

In New Orleans, a former New Orleans police officer pleaded not guilty Wednesday to violating the federal Controlled Substances Act. Jason Cross was arrested November 1 on charges he conspired to sell drugs in January. Federal prosecutors filed a bill of information rather than an indictment against Cross, suggesting that he is cooperating with prosecutors. He is looking at up to 20 years in federal prison if convicted on the current charges.

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

A dirty cop in Philly costs convictions, two abusive Border Patrol agents get sent away, and we have a trifecta of crooked jail guards. Let's get to it:

In Philadelphia, a state court judge threw out 53 convictions tainted by a corrupt cop last Friday. Common Pleas Supervising Court Judge Sheila Woods-Skipper threw out the convictions, which involved former Philadelphia police officer Jeffrey Walker, who was arrested by the FBI in May on charges he plotted with a government informant to rob drug dealers. In at least one incident, Walker stopped a suspect's vehicle, planted drugs, and then arrested the suspect. He and a confederate then stole $15,000 from the man's house. The city is also paying out massive settlements in lawsuits bought by Walker's victims, including many who served prison time after being framed in court, they claimed.

In Donaldsonville, Louisiana, an Elayne Hunt Correctional Center guard was arrested last Thursday on charges he was trying to smuggle drugs into the jail. Daron Toussant, Sr. was the object of an internal investigation at the jail, which led to a search of his home, which in turn led to the seizure of marijuana, synthetic cannabinoids, and a handgun. He is charged with possession with intent to distribute marijuana, possession with intent to distribute synthetic cannabinoid, illegal carrying of a weapon, and conspiracy to introduce contraband to a penal facility.

In Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania, a Blair County Prison guard was arrested last Saturday after being caught bringing drugs to work. Fred Zigler, 27, went down after showing up with Oxycontin, Oxycodone, and acetaminophen tablets. He is charged with possession with intent to deliver and other drug charges.

In Charlotte, North Carolina, a Charlotte Correctional Institution guard was arrested Tuesday after investigators in an unrelated case saw him selling pain pills to another man. Brian Paul McAvoy, 28, was arrested at work, where he was found to be carrying a pain pill. He is charged with sale an delivery of a controlled substance, introduction of contraband into a correctional facility, and possession of drug paraphernalia.

In Tucson, Arizona, two former Border Patrol agents were sentenced Wednesday to serve two years each in federal prison for mistreating suspected marijuana smugglers. Former agents Dario Costillo, 25, and Ramon Zuniga, 31, went down for a 2008 incident in which they descended on a smugglers' encampment in the desert, but only managed to capture four of 20 smugglers. They forced the unlucky men to chew handfuls of marijuana and flee shoeless into the chilly desert. They were convicted of violating the four men's civil rights. Castillo was looking at up to 40 years and Zuniga, who was convicted of misdemeanors, was looking at up to four years.

The Crooked Cop and the Case of the Vanishing Guilty Plea [FEATURE]

Special to the Chronicle by Houston-based investigative journalist Clarence Walker, cwalkerinvestigates@gmail.com. This is Part 8 in his continuing series of stories about prosecutorial misconduct and police corruption in the drug war.

In an unusual recent case, the US 4th Circuit Appeals Court overturned a conviction in a crack cocaine case despite the defendant having pleaded guilty. The case involving Baltimore drug dealer Cortez Leon Fisher was not overturned because the plea agreement was coerced or not voluntary -- the usual standard -- but because it was based on the lies of a corrupt police officer.

The case -- but not this tale -- began with an October 29, 2007 raid on Fisher's home executed by Baltimore police officer and DEA drug task force member Mark Lunsford. The search turned up crack cocaine and a loaded weapon. To avoid a decades-long stretch behind bars, Fisher copped a plea to one count of possession of crack cocaine with intent to distribute and one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Federal District Court Judge Frederick Motz then sentenced Fisher to 10 years in federal prison.

Fisher subsequently appealed to overturn his plea agreement after Lunsford was indicted on theft and perjury charges involving his use of bogus informants to falsely arrest and rip off drug dealers. In July 2010, the crooked cop got 20 months in federal prison for his crimes.

Lunsford's arrest and conviction uncovered a pattern of fabricating evidence to enrich police officers and selected informants, who received payments in cases in which they had not provided information. Reward money was fraudulently awarded to undeserving informants, and the proceeds were split between Lunsford and the snitches.

A search of Lunsford's home turned up jewelry belonging to alleged drug dealers and $46,000 in cash stolen from them. Federal prosecutors made no effort to return the stolen money to its rightful owners, but instead seized it for their own coffers.

But it gets worse. Lunsford also had a long history with Fisher and some of his family members, whom he had previously arrested on drug charges, some of which had been dismissed. In this light, Lunsford's pursuit of Fisher takes on the appearance of a personal vendetta.

When Fisher discovered that Lunsford had been indicted for perjury and theft in 2009, he wrote a pro se appeal to the judge who sentenced him, requesting that his guilty plea be vacated. But Judge Motz demurred.

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/J._Frederick_Motz_District_Judge.jpg
Judge Fredrik Motz
"Unquestionably if the defendant had known of Lunsford's misconduct he would have filed a motion to suppress, and the motion may well have been successful," Motz wrote in denying the appeal. Nevertheless, "the defendant does not deny he was in possession of a firearm (as he admitted under oath during his Rule 11).Under these circumstances, I cannot find that a failure to allow defendant to withdraw his guilty plea would result in a 'miscarriage of justice.'"

Fisher appealed that decision to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals. In his appeal, Fisher wrote that Lunsford "set me up and arrested me unlawfully." The informant in the case, Fisher said in the appeal, "never gave Lunsford information concerning drug activities at Fisher's home." Citing prior arrests of Fisher by Lunsford years ago, the appeal went on to say that after Lunsford arrested Fisher in 2007 in the current case, "the officer returned to my apartment later, stole a safe containing all my jewelry specifically numerous diamonds with blue and red design, including a diamond watch."

The 4th Circuit overturned the trial judge. The key question for the court was whether a police officer's misrepresentations of facts invalidated a guilty plea under the due process clause. The court noted that in order to invalidate a plea, the defendant must show that egregious impermissible conduct preceded the entry of the plea and that the misconduct influenced the defendant's decision to plead guilty.

While one member of the three-judge panel voted to dismiss Fisher's appeal, arguing that "natural reaction of extreme distaste to Lunsford's criminal act does not instantaneously transform Fisher's guilty plea into some form of due process violation that permits him now to withdraw his plea," his was a dissenting opinion.

Judges James Wynn and Henry Floyd disagreed. Lunsford's lies influenced Fisher to cop a plea and his perjury "undermined the entire proceedings, thus rendering the defendant's pleas involuntary, and violated his due process rights," they wrote. "A plea based on law enforcement fraud is invalid even if the person is guilty," the court held in its ruling in the case.

Cortez Fisher is still behind bars, waiting to see if the US Attorney's Office in Maryland will dismiss his case. Meanwhile, Lunford, the dirty cop, has already been released from prison, as have other defendants caught up in Lunsford's perjury and bogus search warrants.

Fisher was scheduled to appear in court on October 25th to resolve the matter, but a court clerk told the Chronicle a new date has not been announced yet. Fisher's attorney, Marta Khan, did not respond to phone and email messages seeking comment about the matter.

"I was supposed to be home like the other people that they let go behind Lunsford's lies but I believe the feds will try to recharge me," Fisher told the Chronicle in a letter from prison."But I am ready for a new trial since I have all this new evidence."

Cop v. Drug Dealer

Baltimore police officer Mark Lunsford despised drug dealer Cortez Fisher. Their adversarial history stretches years to when Lunsford rode patrol near Baltimore's notorious Murphy Homes Project, where Fisher and his brother called "Midget" sold drugs, according to court documents.

Between 1993 and 2004, Lunsford's aggressive efforts to rid the crime-ridden community of drug dealers helped fellow narcotics officers make some of the cases against Fisher, including one particular case in 1999 when Fisher faced charges for armed marijuana trafficking.

In 2001, Fisher picked up another drug case, but was never convicted. Doggedly pursuing Fisher, Lunsford finally nailed him in 2004 on drug trafficking and a weapons charge filed in federal court. Fisher immediately copped a plea to serve 36 months in prison.

After finishing serving the 36 months, Fisher got nailed again on drug charges by Lunsford, this time costing him another 12 months behind bars. But Lunsford wasn't through yet.

In a search warrant affidavit dated October 29, 2007, Lunsford wrote that he received reliable information from a snitch that Fisher was selling drugs out of his house. Then, based on that false report, Lunsford claimed he personally saw Fisher sell drugs from his car. It was all a lie.

Court records filed in Fisher's case include a redacted FBI document dated October 23, 2009, where Lunsford admits that he fabricated source information in Fisher's and numerous other narcotics cases that sent citizens to prison. Lunsford told FBI agent that, fully aware of Fisher's involvement in the drug trade, he had lied when he said the informant he had named in the affidavit was the source of his information about Fisher.

Fisher may well have had a career as a drug dealer, but as the 4th Circuit noted, "even the guilty can suffer a miscarriage of justice."

Cortez Fisher remains imprisoned as he awaits word on what prosecutors will do. In the worst case, he will stay there until 2017. Meanwhile, the crooked cop whose perjurious information led to Fisher's arrest and subsequent plea bargain is a free man, not on parole, and not in the clutches of the criminal justice system.

For the guy from the mean streets of Baltimore, there is nothing left to do except to start over -- again.

"They took everything I had," he explained.

Baltimore, MD
United States

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

We took a week off from the Corrupt Cops stories, but the corrupt cops sure didn't. Here's a rather lengthy list of backlogged law enforcement miscreants. Let's get to it:

In Philadelphia, five Philadelphia police narcotics officers are under investigation for allegedly breaking into a woman's home and stealing valuables. The officers from the 24th District Narcotics Unit are being investigated by Internal Affairs. Witnesses saw the officers breaking in the home, they didn't have a warrant, and the homeowner filed a report the next morning. Some items stolen from the home were found at 24th District headquarters. The unnamed officers have been put on administrative leave pending investigation results.

In Fort Worth, Texas, a Fort Worth narcotics supervisor was arrested October 23 for allegedly stealing a pair of Air Jordan shoe during a failed drug raid the week before. Sgt. Antoine Williams was seen carrying the shoes out of the home that was raided, and his home was then raided by the department's Special Investigations Section the following days. The Air Jordans were recovered, and Williams is now on restricted duty. The raid victim, Marquis Green, said, "They didn't find no drugs in the house at all. They just took shoes that I ain't never wore. They is the bad guys, really. They just got a badge on their side; that's the only thing."

In New York City, an NYPD narcotics detective was arrested last Tuesday for giving two different sworn accounts of arresting an accused PCP dealer in East Harlem. Detective Abel Joseph, 39, first testified that he and his team had never lost sight of their target, but later testified that they had. He also claimed first that he was unable to find the alleged drug buyers, then later claimed that he had stopped and searched them, but found no drugs. The charges against the alleged dealer have been dismissed. Joseph is charged with felony perjury.

In La Crosse, Wisconsin, a former La Crosse police officer was formally charged last Wednesday in an August drug sting that led to his arrest and resignation. Former Lt. Brian Thompson is charged with possession of narcotics without a prescription. He went down after superiors noticed he was spending time in the evidence room outside the course of his normal duties and stung him by giving him a duffel bag containing fake Oxycontin pills and telling him to book it into evidence. He did, but the fake pills were missing. He later admitted taking and consuming them. He's looking at up to 3 ½ years in prison.

In Winthrop, Massachusetts, a Winthrop auxiliary police officer was arrested last Thursday for allegedly dealing drugs in uniform and from his Auxiliary Police cruiser on several occasions. Officer Bledar Naco was arrested by the FBI, Winthrop and Revere police and faces currently unspecified charges.

In Cumberland, Maryland, an Allegheny County jail guard was arrested last Thursday after buying Oxycontin in a drug sting. William Smith, 26, went down after jail administrators received information he was involved in smuggling drugs into the jail. He is charged with conspiracy of a controlled dangerous substance possession with intent to distribute, conspiracy of possession of a controlled dangerous substance with intent to deliver in a place of confinement, and other offenses.

In New Orleans, a New Orleans police officer was arrested last Friday for getting involved in the cocaine trade. Officer Jason Cross is charged in federal court with possession of cocaine with the intent to distribute. The incident allegedly took place January 10 in Jefferson Parish. Cross resigned from the department the day of his arrest.

In Burlington, Vermont, a US Customs officer was arrested last Friday for stealing prescription drugs from vehicles he searched at the Canadian border. Christopher Vanzandt, 28, didn't get busted at work, but instead went to a house police were watching in a heroin investigation, broke into the garage, and stole some heroin hidden in WD-40 cans. That's when he was arrested. A subsequent search of his vehicle revealed the stolen pills. He was charged in state court with burglary and drug possession, but those charges will likely be dropped so he can be arraigned in federal court.

In Littleton, Colorado, a Littleton police officer pleaded guilty last Monday to planning to sell Ecstasy pills. Jeffrey Allan Johnston, 46, went down last summer after the FBI learned he was selling Ecstasy out of his home. He was arrested after buying 37 pills and 6.3 grams of powder Ecstasy from an undercover officer in July. Police also found cocaine, steroids, hundreds of prescription pills, and various weapons when they searched his home. He pleaded guilty to one count of possessing Ecstasy with intent to distribute and one count of being a prohibited person in possession of firearms. He is scheduled to be sentenced by US District Court Judge Philip A. Brimmer in February and is looking at up to 20 years in federal prison.

In Montclair, New Jersey, a Montclair police officer was convicted October 10 of being involved in an interstate marijuana sales operation. Anes Hadziefejzovic was accused of accompanying loads of marijuana from Maryland to New Jersey and was convicted of conspiracy to distribute more than 1,000 kilos of marijuana.

In Stillwater, Minnesota, a former Washington County sheriff's deputy was convicted Monday of stealing drugs from a locked pharmaceutical drop box in the county government building. Ricky Harry Gruber, 43, was found guilty of misconduct by a public employee and illegal possession of prescription drugs. He got caught on video removing the secure drug drum from the box and was arrested when he came back with it minutes later. He admitted having stolen the key to the secure area and taking the drugs.

In Little Rock, Arkansas, a former Little Rock police officer was sentenced last Wednesday to nearly nine years in prison on drug trafficking charges. Mark Jones and fellow officer Randall Robinson were arrested in June and charged with conspiracy to distribute more than 1,000 pounds of marijuana. Jones went immediately from court to jail.

In Oxford, Mississippi, a former Water Valley police officer was sentenced last Thursday to one year in prison for taking money from a drug trafficker in return for information about law enforcement. John David Hernandez, 35, had pleaded guilty to one count of extortion under color of official right, one count of money laundering, and one count of obstruction of a federal investigation.

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

A hard-partying Colorado cop calls it a career, a DC cop launders a bit of drug money, a North Carolina narc gets caught with her fingers in the jar, and a retired cop uses his old badge and cop plates to sling dope. Let's get to it:

In Littleton, Colorado, a Littleton police officer resigned Monday as he prepared to plead guilty to charges related to his purchase of $1,300 worth of Ecstasy from a confidential informant in July. Jeffrey Allan Johnston, a 22-year veteran of the department, was also accused of holding parties in his home, where investigators found cocaine, steroids, prescription pills by the hundred, cash, and guns. He is expected to plead guilty to one count of prohibited person in possession of a firearm and one count of possession with intent to distribute. His court date is set for October 28.

In Washington, DC, a DC Metro police officer was arrested last Friday on charges she helped to launder drug money. Officer Stephanie Ellison, 49, went down for allegedly conspiring to buy high-end sports cars and a Harley Davidson motorcycle with drug proceeds in a bid to conceal the money. She's looking at up to 20 years in federal prison, but for now remains on administrative leave with pay.

In Greenville, North Carolina, a former Greenville narcotics detective pleaded guilty last Thursday to three counts related to stealing thousands of dollars in drug money seized during investigations she conducted. Rose Edmonds copped to three counts altering, destroying, or stealing evidence. She was fired after being arrested in February. She was sentenced to at least six months in prison on each count, with the sentences to run consecutively, but the judge suspended her sentence unless she misbehaves anew.

In Norristown, Pennsylvania, a retired Norristown police officer was sentenced last Thursday to at least 17 years in prison for selling meth and prescription pills and using his old police badge and license plate as cover. Jack Pennington, 68, had pleaded guilty to 16 of 21 drug-related felonies after becoming the subject of an investigation by the Montgomery County Narcotics Enforcement Team. He went down as he went to meet his supplier at a local mall. Although he had retired at the time of his offenses, in our view, his use of his old police badge and plates qualifies him for mention here.

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

A Florida police department has a fine drug war racket, plus more cops with pain pill issues, a Texas deputy goes down for slinging cocaine, a former Milwaukee cop gets slapped for putting his hands in the wrong place, and an ex-Chicago cop goes away for ripping off drug couriers. Just another week of drug-related police corruption. Let's get to it:

In Sunrise, Florida, the police have made a fine -- and legal -- art of corruption around asset forfeiture by paying informants hundreds of thousands of dollars to lure would-be cocaine buyers to the suburban paradise, where the cops then relieve them of their cash and possessions under state and asset forfeiture laws. The racket brought in more than $5 million for police coffers last year, five times more than any other Broward County community. The South Florida Sun-Sentinel's "Cops, Cash, Cocaine: How Sunrise's Police Make Millions Selling Drugs," tells the sordid tale with some old-school investigative reporting. It's at the link above and deserves to be read in full.

In Johnston, Rhode Island, a state prison guard was arrested last Thursday on charges he was peddling pills. James Petrella, 49, was arrested after selling oxycodone and clonazapam to an undercover officer on three occasions last month. Petrella worked at the Maximum Security Facility until being placed on sick leave in June for a work-related injury. He is now charged with three counts of delivery of a controlled substance. At last report, Petrella was still being held after his bail was set at $20,000.

In Dallas, a former Yoakum County sheriff's deputy pleaded guilty last Thursday over his role in a cocaine distribution conspiracy. Inoe Valdez, Jr., 43, admitted to selling at least 1.5 pounds of cocaine, conspiring in a multi-hundred pound marijuana deal that never materialized, and using his cell phone to communicate with a drug trafficker. He copped to conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute cocaine and distribution and possession with intent to distribute cocaine. No word yet on a sentencing date.

In Milwaukee, a former Milwaukee police officer was found guilty last Friday of charges related to illegal strip and body cavity searches of drug suspects. Jacob Knight, 32, was one of a group of four officers led by Michael Vagnini who were accused of widespread resort to the illegal and invasive searches. Vagnini recently got 26 months in prison. Knight was found guilty of criminal misconduct and sentenced to 20 days in jail.

In Price, Utah, a former Carbon County sheriff's sergeant pleaded guilty Monday to taking drugs from the department's evidence room without authorization. Christopher Basso went down after deputies suspected he was going to the evidence room on the down low and they set up a surveillance camera that caught him in the act. He was placed on administrative leave after failing two drug tests in January, fired in February, then charged with multiple offenses in March. He pleaded guilty to possession of a controlled substance, burglary, and misdemeanor evidence tampering and faces sentencing on December 2.

In Chicago, a former Chicago police sergeant was sentenced Wednesday to nearly two years in federal prison for stealing thousands of dollars from a "drug courier" who turned out to be an FBI informant. Ronald Wright, 19-year veteran of the force, was arrested along with another officer, Kallatt Mohammed, in 2012 after they were caught stealing drug proceeds. Mohammed pleaded guilty last summer, testifying that he and Watts had demanded protection payoffs from drug dealers in the now closed-down Ida B. Wells housing complex on the South Side. He got 18 months, but didn't testify against Watts, who copped a plea just before trial in July. He agreed to plead guilty to one count of theft of government funds. His sentence was greater than the 10-16 months called for by federal sentencing guidelines, but less than the 36 months prosecutors sought.

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Cops peddling pot, cops gobbling steroids, cops with sticky fingers, and, of course, a crooked prison guard. Just another week on the drug war corruption beat. Let's get to it:

In Sunrise, Florida, a Sunrise police officer resigned Monday after he and his girlfriend were accused of selling marijuana from his home. The officer, Joseph Rodriguez-Santiago, 27, was cited last week for possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia and quit his job of six years after he was placed on administrative leave. His girlfriend faces two felony counts after twice selling pot to a snitch, including once while Rodriguez-Santiago was present. The two dope deals were for $20 and $40.

In St. Clair Shores, Michigan, a Roseville police officer was arrested last Thursday on federal drug charges. Officer Gregory Moore, a 10-year veteran of the department, went down in a DEA probe of steroid and performance-enhancing drug use. He faces two counts of felony drug possession and one count of maintaining a drug house. He's out on a $5,000 cash bond.

In Tampa, Florida, a Tampa police officer was arrested last Friday on charges she stole money orders seized during a drug investigation. Detective Jeannette Hevel allegedly took $1,900 worth out of the evidence room and then cashed them. She has been charged with grand theft. At last report, the 27-year veteran was still in jail after being booked in.

In Tuscaloosa, Alabama, a former Tuscaloosa narcotics officer agreed to a plea deal Monday that would see him doing 18 months in federal prison after pleading guilty to theft charges. Prosecutors have accused Snyder of ripping off more than $125,000 from the West Alabama Narcotics Task Force. He had commanded the unit before retiring last year. A judge still has to approve the deal, and a hearing is set for December 5.

In Jersey City, New Jersey, a former state prison guard was found guilty last Wednesday of smuggling drugs to inmates at the state's prison for sex offenders. Bobby Singleton, 55, was found guilty of conspiracy, official misconduct, and bribery for the scheme in which he carried in heroin and marijuana and inmates paid for the drugs by wiring money to co-conspirators on the outside. Singletary is looking at at least five years in prison when he's sentenced next month.

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

We have a doozy of a corruption tale out of West Virginia, a pair of Kentucky deputies get caught peddling pills, and a Georgia deputy gets nailed for selling weed from his cop cruiser. Let's get to it:

In Williamson, West Virginia, the Mingo county sheriff murdered earlier this year is now implicated in a wide-ranging corruption scandal. Sheriff Eugene Crum was gunned down in April, just weeks after announcing a hard-charging local "war on drugs," and a local man has been arrested for his killing, but the investigation into his death uncovered a rat's nest of corruption among Mingo County officials, including Crum himself. Crum, who was gunned down as he staked out a "pill mill," was himself illicitly buying prescription pain pills from a man who made his campaign signs. Instead of paying his $3,000 bill to the man, federal prosecutors say, he successfully conspired with county officials, including the district attorney, to frame and imprison the man on drug charges. Crum was by no means the only crooked thing in Mingo County. A local judge has also been indicted on charges he had an affair with his secretary and then tried to frame her husband on drug charges. And there's still more. The whole article is worth the read.

In Pikeville, Kentucky, a Pike County sheriff's deputy and a dispatcher were arrested last Thursday on charges they were peddling dope. Dispatcher Matthew Blanton, 33, and Deputy Bradley Childers, 34, went down after an undercover investigation by the local drug task force. The two were popped after selling oxycodone to a confidential informer. At one point, Childers "became suspicious" and asked Blanton to use his police resources to identify the informant, and then threatened him. It's not clear what the precise charges are.

In Covington, Georgia, a Newton County sheriff's deputy was arrested last Thursday on charges he was selling marijuana, including from his marked patrol car. Deputy Darrell Mathis, 40, kept large amounts of marijuana in the open at his apartment in Lithonia and bragged that he didn't worry about selling marijuana because he "drives safely and flashes his police credentials to get out of tickets if he is stopped," according to a federal complaint. Mathis went down after repeatedly selling pounds of pot to an informant working with the FBI and an undercover FBI agent, and after his arrest, admitted selling between 10 and 15 pounds a week. He is charged with distributing marijuana and carrying a firearm in the furtherance of a drug trafficking offense. He has been released on bond and is looking at up to five years on the marijuana charge and up to life on the weapons charge.

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

A killer Utah narc gets fired, a New Jersey cop goes around the bend, an Illinois deputy gets caught stealing from the cookie jar, an Arizona Border Patrol agent goes away for smuggling weed, and a New York City prison guard goes away for soliciting cocaine bribes.

In West Valley City, Utah, a West Valley City narcotics detective was fired last Thursday amid allegations of wrongdoing. Detective Shaun Cowley was fired for mishandling evidence found in the back of his police vehicle the day he and another detective, Kevin Salmon, shot and killed 21-year-old alleged heroin user Danielle Willard as she sat in her car. The pair were recently found to be unjustified in shooting her. That death sparked an investigation into the department's narcotics unit that revealed missing money and drugs, the misuse of GPS trackers, and the theft of personal items from seized vehicles. The entire unit was disbanded, but three other officers were reinstated after being counseled or reprimanded for their involvement in the actions leading to the accusations of department policy violations. Cowley could still face criminal charges for the corrupt activities, which have forced local prosecutors to drop more than a hundred drug cases in which he was involved.

In Edison, New Jersey, an Edison police officer was arrested last Thursday on a variety of charges suggesting an officer out of control. Patrolman Michael Dotro, 36, was already facing attempted murder charges for allegedly trying to burn down his supervisor's home in May, but now faces new charges that he bought marijuana while in uniform and conspired to sell it, slashed a woman's tires, and illegally accessed the department's records database for personal use. Prosecutors also accused him of carrying prohibited weapons -- brass knuckles and a blackjack -- in his police duffle bag. Dotro faces 17 new charges,including four counts of official misconduct and one count of engaging in a pattern of official misconduct. Each count carries a maximum 10-year sentence. The acts are alleged to have taken place before he was placed on leave after being arrested May 20 on the arson charges. Dotro was angered after his supervisor ordered him to get a fitness-for-duty evaluation with a psychologist. The supervisor acted after Dotro picked up his fifth excessive force complaint in a decade. Dotro is now in jail.

In Decatur, Illinois, a former chief sheriff's investigator was arrested Tuesday for allegedly stealing from the department's narcotics fund. Steven Jones had retired in 2011 after 30 years on the job, but went down after an internal audit raised questions about the fund after he retired. The investigation suggested he had been pilfering the funds, which came from cash seized from alleged drug dealers, since 2003. He was charged with theft of government property and is out on bail after posting a $75,000 cash bond.

In Phoenix, a former Border Patrol agent was sentenced Monday to five years in federal prison for smuggling marijuana while on duty. Aaron Anaya admitted loading up bundles of marijuana that had been dropped over the border fence between Yuma and Welton last December 2. He pleaded guilty to possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense. He must also do five years' probation and pay a $2,000 fine.

In New York City, a Rikers Island prison guard was sentenced Tuesday to eight years in state prison for accepting three kilograms of cocaine from an inmate in return for shortening his sentence in the Department of Corrections computer system. Robert Whitfield, 51, had been arrested after sending an intermediary to pick up $100,000 worth of the drug in what turned out to have been a sting operation. Whitfield went down after soliciting a number of inmates for a bribe, and one of them reported his offer to authorities, who set up the sting. He was convicted in May of charges including criminal possession of a controlled substance, conspiracy, several counts of receiving bribes, and official misconduct.

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

More jail guards in trouble, and a Georgia cop gets nailed for helping meth dealers. As an aside, we occasionally get news of police officers busted for their pain pill habits, a phenomenon that has been ongoing for the past few years. There were a couple more this past week. We don't include them unless they are committing other crimes -- stealing them from evidence rooms, stealing them from homes, stealing them from drug takeback boxes -- that qualify them as corrupt cops and not just strung out people. Okay, let's get to it:

In Georgetown, South Carolina, a Georgetown County jail guard was arrested August 29 on charges she supplied drugs to inmates. Kelvenia Davis faces one count of furnishing prisoners with drugs or alcohol, one count of furnishing prisoners with contraband, and one count of public official misconduct. She was jailed on a $15,000 bond.

In Malone, New York, a state prison guard was arrested August 30 on charges he smuggled drugs into the Franklin Correctional Facility. Ricky Hance, 51, is charged with official misconduct, second-degree receiving rewards for official misconduct, second-degree introduction of contraband into a prison, first-degree prison contraband and fifth-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance. Hance has allegedly admitted his guilt. He is currently free on $1,500 cash bond.

In Decatur, Georgia, a DeKalb County police officer was arrested last Friday on charges he helped a ring of methamphetamine dealers. William Miguel, an 11-year veteran, is accused of serving as a lookout for drug dealers and funneling confidential law enforcement information to them, as well as providing security and counterintelligence advice. He is charged with conspiracy to traffic meth. He is being held at the DeKalb County Detention Center and has been placed on administrative leave.

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