Police Corruption

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Is It Bad Cop vs. Bad Cop, or Bad Cop vs. Good Cop?

Jeralyn Merritt linked in TalkLeft today to a Chicago Tribune article covering what sounds like a fairly spectacular police corruption trial. A police ring allegedly engaged in armed robbery of drug dealers, and as part of that engaging in home invasions, falsifying police reports and lying to judges and juries. The prosecutors, not surprisingly, have gotten one cop -- Corey Flagg, who has pleaded guilty -- to testify against another -- Eural Black, who took it to trial -- in order to get a "deal," e.g., a lighter sentence. And Merritt aptly points out that in such a circumstance -- a known criminal providing testimony, in exchange for the compensation of spending less time in prison -- it's really hard to know whom to believe. There is incredibly strong incentive for the guy making the deal to say anything that will get him off more easily, and by definition the guy making the deal is someone we believe to be a criminal in the true sense of the word. Should such a person's testimony really be the basis for handing out hard-time in prison? Defense are pointing this out, and Merritt asks what the jury is likely to make of it:
What does a jury glean from all this? That all the cops were dirty, or that one cop who got caught is trying to save himself by selling out a clean cop who worked with him?... Does a dirty cop really sell out a clean cop? Or does he, caught in the headlights, just spread the blame to others as dirty as him, in hopes of a shorter sentence?
This sort of deal is made all the time, of course, on countless routine cases. I consider it to be a fundamental corruption of the administration of justice -- it is just too obviously true that one cannot trust testimony given under such a circumstance. The older type of practice is that deals would be offered to informants who provide useful information that investigators can use to then find actual evidence. Instead, drug war prosecutors, with the complicity of judges, have shed their morality and instead use the informants' mere testimony. Hmm, maybe that's one of the reasons some people don't like snitching.
Location: 
Chicago, IL
United States

Weekly: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

It's a real motley crew this week: a small-town police chief gone bad, cops escorting drug shipments, and, of course, more crooked prison guards.

First, a brief note about this weekly feature and what we are and are not trying to accomplish with it. Our purpose in publishing the corrupt cops stories is to make the points about how vast the problem of police corruption really is, how drug prohibition is a major cause of police corruption, and how much hypocrisy there is in the system.

What we're not doing is "gloating" over cops getting a taste of their own medicine or calling for harsh punishments for them. Some of the police officers mentioned here undoubtedly were unethical people when they took the job. Others either bent to temptations or pressures existing in their individual situations or gradually strayed down the wrong path. How harshly they deserve to be punished is an individual matter. Most of all want to end the drug war so that none of this happens at all.

Now, let's get to it:

In Cabot, Arkansas, the former Lonoke police chief and his wife were sentenced Tuesday for running a criminal organization dealing in drugs and jewelry. Former Chief Jay Campbell had been convicted on 23 counts, including conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine and running a continuing criminal enterprise. His wife, Kelly Campbell, was convicted of 26 counts, including residential burglary and obtaining a controlled substance through theft or fraud. The ex-chief is going down for 40 years, while his wife got a 20-year sentence. Trials are pending for the former mayor and two others in this tale of small-town corruption writ large.

In Hollywood, Florida, two Hollywood police officers pleaded guilty April 25 on heroin trafficking charges. Detective Kevin Companion and Officer Stephen Harrison admitted running a protection racket and using police vehicles to escort heroin shipments for people they thought were traffickers, but who were really undercover FBI agents. According to court documents, they also transported stolen diamonds from New Jersey, protected an illegal card game on a yacht, and trafficked in stolen bearer bonds. The pair face 10 years in federal prison when they are sentenced on July 20. Two other Hollywood police officers involved in the racket, Sgt. Jeffrey Courtney and Detective Thomas Simcox, are expected to plead guilty as well, but no hearing dates have been set in their cases.

In Hartford, Connecticut, the New Haven Police Department's recently-fired head narc was formally indicted on corruption charges on April 25. William White, 63, chief of the New Haven drug squad, narcotics detective Justen Kasperzyk, 34, and three bail bondsmen were arrested a month ago after an eight-month investigation by state and federal authorities. Now, White is charged in the indictment with two counts of theft of government funds and bribery conspiracy after he was videotaped stealing money planted by the FBI in what he thought was a drug dealer's car. Kasperzyk was not mentioned in the indictments. The bail bondsmen were indicted for paying White and other officers bribes of up to $15,000 to track down clients who had become fugitives. They face up to 20 years in prison.

In Clovis, New Mexico, a Curry County jail guard was arrested April 24 for smuggling marijuana and tobacco into the jail. Curry County Adult Center Officer Raul Lopez, 23, told investigators he needed cash when an inmate offered to pay him to bring in the goodies. He now faces three counts of bringing contraband into a place of imprisonment and three counts of distribution of a controlled substance. All the charges are felonies. He has now been fired and is being held on $30,000 bond in neighboring Pecos County. Lopez is the fifth Curry County jail guard to be arrested in the past year, on charges ranging from contraband to assaulting prisoners.

In Rutland, Vermont, a state prison community corrections officer was arrested April 27 for selling cocaine. Sheri Fitzgerald, 43, went down after selling coke to a confidential informant that same day and is accused of selling it to offenders she oversaw in the community corrections program. She faces felony charges of cocaine possession, cocaine distribution, distribution of narcotics, and a misdemeanor count of illegal possession of a narcotic. That could get her up to 19 years in prison. The 18-year veteran of the Vermont Department of Corrections employee is now jailed on a $250,000 bond.

Wrongful death suit to be filed in fatal police shooting of woman, 92

Location: 
Atlanta, GA
United States
Publication/Source: 
The Telegraph (GA)
URL: 
http://www.macon.com/220/story/32395.html

Futile drug war ignores target: Safety

Location: 
Atlanta, GA
United States
Publication/Source: 
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
URL: 
http://www.ajc.com/opinion/content/opinion/tucker/stories/2007/05/01/0502edtuck.html

What Do Cops Think About the Atlanta Indictments?

What do police officers have to say about the indictment of three Atlanta police officers -- two of whom have now pled guilty -- in the murder of Kathryn Johnston? Well, not much.

Officer.com has a thread on this topic, which consists primarily of debate over the facts of the case. There are a few factually incorrect statements, and several corrections, but what you won't find is any substantive discussion of the systemic drug war corruption that made this tragedy inevitable.

The only exception is this comment from the ubiquitous Howard Wooldridge of LEAP:
The 'facts' will probably always remain murky. I blame the Drug War for the entire incident and grandma was simply more collateral damage. This is far f/ the first oops which caused death and won't be the last. Until we become as wise as our grandparents and end this New Prohibition, our profession will continue to suffer, as does the community we protect. Someone tell me one advantage, one good outcome of this policy after we have spent a trillion taxpayer dollars and arrested some 36 million people...Hiway Howie
Sadly, no one even responds to Howard. It is really quite disappointing to find that one of the most shocking revelations of police misconduct in recent years provokes such shallow discussion from law-enforcement officers.

Until police take interest in the numerous lessons to be learned from such tragedies, the list will just continue to grow.
Location: 
United States

Pleas won't end probe of Atlanta police

Location: 
Atlanta, GA
United States
Publication/Source: 
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
URL: 
http://www.ajc.com/metro/content/metro/atlanta/stories/2007/04/27/0427metjohnston.html

2 Plead Guilty In Police Drug Raid Death

Location: 
Atlanta, GA
United States
Publication/Source: 
CBS News
URL: 
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/04/26/ap/national/main2731851.shtml

Officer Indictments Coming Thurs.

Location: 
Atlanta, GA
United States
Publication/Source: 
WXIA-TV Atlanta
URL: 
http://www.11alive.com/news/article_news.aspx?storyid=96003

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Three police officers and a prison guard arrested, and another prison guard gets sent to prison. Once again, we present the corrosive impact of the drug war on police ethics and morality in all its mundane banality. Let's get to it:

In Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, the former police chief is charged with leaking word of an impending drug raid. Former Chief Rolf Garcia and his 17-year-old son were arrested April 19 on charges Garcia told his son about a looming raid in February 2006, and his son called four other people to warn them. As a result, two men escaped the residence that was the target of the raid before they could be identified. Garcia told a grand jury that while he never told his son the location of a planned raid, he might have warned him to stay away from a certain area. His son testified that he had provided false information about drug busts in the past to obtain marijuana, but he denied telling anyone about the raid in question. Garcia and his son are charged with hindering apprehension or prosecution, while Garcia is also charged with obstruction of justice. A preliminary hearing is set for May 24. [Ed: Whether reformers should be upset about Garcia's actions in this case is another question.]

In Columbus, Georgia, a Columbus police officer has been arrested for cocaine trafficking.
Officer Larry Lightning, a 23-year veteran of the department, was arrested last Friday after a two-year investigation by the Columbus office of the FBI, the Columbus Police Department, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, and the Metro Narcotics Task Force. He faces federal charges of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine base, extortion by a public official, and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

In Evansville, Indiana, an Evansville police officer will soon face trial for allegedly stealing money from a drug suspect. Officer Gerald Rainey, 33, faces one count of felony theft for allegedly taking $1,000 out of a backpack containing $19,500, which he seized from a cocaine dealing suspect. The accused dealer cried foul, police investigated, and they found the missing $1,000 in Rainey's patrol car. He faces a June 27 court date.

In Garden City, New York, a New York City jail guard was charged with supplying heroin to the Shinnecock Indian Reservation. Gary Morton, 25, surrendered to state police last Friday as part of the roll-up of a drug distribution network on the reservation, which is on the eastern end of Long Island. Morton was one of more than a dozen people arrested. He is charged with second-degree conspiracy. Authorities planned to arrest him at his job at Rikers Island, but he didn't show up for work, instead turning himself in later that day.

In Sacramento, a former prison guard was sentenced to prison for smuggling methamphetamine in to inmates. John Charles Whittle, 47, a 22-year veteran of the California Department of Corrections, pleaded guilty last month. He was busted after internal affairs agents intercepted a package of meth sent to Whittle's home, then raided the residence after he accepted delivery. The former guard at Mule Creek State Prison admitted to receiving more than $5,000 to smuggle drugs into the prison. He will now serve two years himself.

Would Legal Drugs End Cartel Violence in Mexico?

Location: 
Mexico
Publication/Source: 
Mexidata (CA)
URL: 
http://www.mexidata.info/id1325.html

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