Police Corruption

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This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

A pair of Indiana prison guards get in trouble over weed in separate incidents, a Florida deputy is apparently having way too much fun, and an Alabama cop gets nailed in a cocaine sting. Let's get to it:

In Chesterton, Indiana, an Indiana state prison guard was arrested last Tuesday after being caught reporting to work with nearly three-quarters of a pound of marijuana. Marcus Crenshaw, 27, went down after being stopped and searched as he reported for work. He is charged with one count of marijuana trafficking and is now lodged at the LaPorte County Jail. He has also been suspended without pay.

In South Bend, Indiana, an Indiana state prison guard was arraigned last Thursday on charges he had a marijuana grow-op in his home. The charges against Kenneth Bell, 26, came after police raided his home and found a dozen pot plants in the basement, along with other "drug-related materials." He is facing charges of marijuana possession and distribution. There is no indication it is connected with his job.

In Fort Lauderdale, Florida, a Broward County sheriff's deputy was suspended without pay last Friday for allegedly having sex while on duty, dating escorts, and allowing the use of drugs in his presence. Deputy Michael Hennessey came under the spotlight in February, when an ex-girlfriend ratted him out. Since then, he has been under surveillance, and investigators also used undercover officers and confidential informants to try to nail him. The investigation revealed that he was in constant contact with his live-in girlfriend, "a known escort and drug user and dealer." A Friday search warrant said investigators were looking into the possibility he had committed two felony crimes, possibly conspiracy to deliver cocaine and illegal use of a two-way communication device to facilitate a felony.

In Pritchard, Alabama, a Prichard police officer was arrested Saturday after trying to buy five kilograms of cocaine in what turned out to be a sting operation. Officer Edmund Burke is now charged with trafficking cocaine, possession of a controlled substance, and possession of marijuana. He has two previous arrests, one for interfering with custody in 2000 and one for possession of a controlled substance in 2006.

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Deputies packing dope, jail guards smuggling dope, cops doing a little money laundering, and cops getting information for their dope dealer buddies. Just another week in the drug war. Let's get to it:

In Montgomery, Alabama, a Wilcox County deputy sheriff pleaded not guilty last Tuesday to charges he transported packages of what he thought was cocaine from Montgomery to Camden. Deputy Greg Barge, 45, was arrested in late June and has been held in custody ever since. He is accused of taking $800 in one incident and $1,200 in another to deliver the "drugs" while in uniform and carrying his police-issue weapon. He is charged with drug possession with intent to distribute and carrying a firearm during a drug trafficking crime.

In West Chester, Pennsylvania, a Chester County Prison guard was arrested last Thursday on charges he routinely smuggled drugs and other contraband into the jail. Erik Messner, 24, went down after a confidential informant snitched him out. According to authorities, inmates would arrange with family members to meet Messner, then give him drugs, tobacco, and cash to smuggle into the jail. Messner would keep a portion of the cash and drugs and deliver the rest to inmates. He is charged with various conspiracy and drug offenses and, at last report, was residing at his former workplace.

In Reynolds, Georgia, a Reynolds police officer was arrested last Friday on charges he accessed confidential law enforcement information and passed it on to a drug dealer. Officer Terrell Gibson went down in a joint investigation by the DEA, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, and the sheriff's office. He was released on bond late Friday evening, but is now former Officer Gibson, having been fired that same day.

In Washington, DC, a former Metro DC police officer pleaded guilty last Thursday to charges he aided and abetted a cocaine dealer's efforts to launder drug money. Jared Weinberg, 28, rented an apartment from the cocaine dealer which the dealer sometimes used to make coke deals. Weinberg also helped count drug money and admitted to laundering some $14,900. He pleaded guilty to money laundering and is looking at 10 to 16 months in federal prison when he is sentenced in December.

In Cincinnati, a former Hamilton County evidence room supervisor pleaded guilty Monday to stealing drugs and jewelry from the evidence room and was sentenced to six years in prison. Michael Esposito, 71, took methadone, oxycodone, phentermine, and marijuana, and had his wife and stepson sell them and share the profits. His wife is going away for four years. Esposito pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated trafficking, one count of trafficking in drugs, one count of drug theft, and one count of theft. The thefts all involved cases that had already been resolved.

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Four of the seven law enforcement personnel making our hall of shame this week were women. You've come a long way, ladies! Let's get to it:

In Washington, DC, a Prince Georges County (Maryland) police officer was arrested last Monday as part of a drug-dealing investigation in which more than a dozen people were also busted. Vanessa Edwards-Hammond is accused of tipping off a suspect that he was being wiretapped. The investigation by local and federal authorities targeted a drug-dealing network that authorities say sold heroin, cocaine, marijuana and prescription pills throughout the region. It is unclear what the exact charges are.

In Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, a Wauwatosa police detective was arrested last Tuesday after being caught red-handed pilfering drugs from the evidence room. Detective Robin Schumacher was caught on surveillance cameras entering the evidence room and leaving with bags of drugs, then sorting through them at her desk. She went down after a review of computer records showed that the evidence room door was opened with a standard key within minutes of Shumacher entering the building on six different in a one-month period ending earlier this month. Investigators then set up the cameras designed to catch her in the act. They did. Among the drugs she pocketed on the day she was busted were oxycodone, diazepam, Cymbalta, hydrocodone, and lorazepam.

In Milwaukee, a Chicago Aviation Police officer was arrested last Wednesday on charges she worked as a mule for a Chicago "drug kingpin." Angela Brown, 47, is accused of driving loads of heroin from Chicago to Milwaukee for the past six months. She went down after narcotics agents tracked her with a GPS device placed on her vehicle. She is charged with possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver.

In Columbus, Ohio, a Columbus police detective was arrested last Thursday on charges he was providing protection to a drug dealer. Detective Stevie Billups, 48, allegedly met a drug dealer at a local casino where he gambled heavily and provided paid protection for the man when he had to pick up payments for drug transactions and when he had to deliver loads of heroin. Billups went down after federal agents working a narcotics case saw him giving casino chips to a drug dealer, and when they arrested that dealer, he alerted them to Billups' involvement. Billups had been to the casino more than a hundred times since it opened in October and had bought at least $100,000 worth of chips there. But he lost more at gambling than he won and was suffering financial distress. He is charged with attempted distribution of heroin and possession of weapon during a drug trafficking offense.

In Salt Lake City, a former West Valley City police officer was arrested last Thursday on charges he stole morphine pills from a deceased cancer patient. Ryan Humphrey is accused of pocketing 22 pills when he responded to the death of the patient. He went down when a backup officer reported his actions to a supervisor and resigned shortly thereafter. He is charged with theft and felony possession of morphine.

In Littleton, Colorado, a Littleton police officers was arrested last Friday after buying 37 ecstasy tablets and 6.3 grams of powder ecstasy in an undercover drug buy at his home. Jeffrey Allan Johnston, 46, went down after the FBI recorded phone calls between him and a confidential informant and raided his home after the deal went down. During the search of his home, investigators also found suspected cocaine, steroids, and hundreds of prescription pain pills.

In Toledo, Ohio, a Lucas County Jail guard was arrested Saturday on charges she was smuggling drugs into the jail. Michelle Vining, 31, went down after a three-week investigation and was caught carrying marijuana and prescription pills as she headed to work. She faces three unspecified felony charges and is now looking for a new job.

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Two Virginia top cops copped to drug corruption offenses this past week, and that's just for starters. There is more as well. Let's get to it:

In Halifax, Virginia, the former Halifax County sheriff pleaded guilty last Friday to ripping off drug task funds and asset forfeiture funds for his own personal use. Former Sheriff Stanley Noblin copped to five counts of embezzlement in connection with the thefts. According to prosecutors -- and uncontested by Noblin -- Noblin ripped off at least $48,500 from the department's asset forfeiture fund and $32,500 from the drug task force fund. He cited financial hardships. He will be sentenced in October.

In Milwaukee, a Milwaukee police officer pleaded guilty last Friday to conducting illegal strip searches of drug suspects. Officer Jack Knight, 32, also agreed to resign from the department. He is the second officer convicted in the case. Michael Vagnini was sentenced to 26 months in prison last month, and two other officers face similar charges and are scheduled for trials. Vagnini appears to have been the active perpetrator of the strip searches, which included rectal probes, but the other three officers are being charged because their presence without objection asserted to victims that they were not free to leave and had to consent to the searches. Some of the victims have now filed a civil rights lawsuit against the department and individual officers.

In Abingdon, Virginia, the former Marion police chief pleaded guilty Tuesday to dealing meth, cocaine, and pain pills. Michael Dean Roberts, 54, copped to one counts of conspiring to distribute controlled substances. He conceded selling at least 7,331 hydrocodone pills, 365 grams of methamphetamine, and small amounts of cocaine and oxycodone from 2006 through June. A confidential informant bought hydrocodone pills from the police chief on three separate occasions in May and June. Some of the drugs came from the department's evidence room. He's looking at up to 20 years in federal prison when he's sentenced in October.

In San Diego, a former Calexico-area Customs officer was sentenced last Tuesday to 12 years in federal prison for taking tens of thousands of dollars in bribes to allow drugs to be smuggled into the country. Oscar Osbaldo Ortiz-Martinez had been convicted of bribery and conspiracy to import controlled substances in September 2012 after he went down in a sting. Undercover agents and cooperating witnesses posed as drug traffickers seeking free entrée through Customs inspection lanes and paid Ortiz-Martinez $22,000 to clear the way. He also agreed to allow kilograms of cocaine through his lane in exchange for another $30,000 and 15 kilograms of meth, but was then busted.

In New York City, a former NYPD officer was sentenced last Friday to six months in prison for lying about a supposed drug deal he said he witnessed. Isaias Alicea had said he saw two men involved in a drug sale in the lobby of the Manhattanville Houses housing project, but surveillance video from the lobby that showed the two men never coming into contact with each other. The drug charge against the suspect was dropped, and Alicea was charged instead. Known as an aggressive cop with a lot of arrests, Alicea had earlier pleaded guilty to administrative charges of violating someone's constitutional rights by unlawfully entering and searching a Brooklyn home.

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

More trouble for Philly and its rogue narcs, an Alabama jail guard goes down, so does a Mississippi narc, and a Calfornia narc cops a plea to stealing dope for resale. Let's get to it:

In Philadelphia, another lawsuit was filed last Wednesday against the city's rogue narcs. A Philadelphia family sued the city and five individual members of a narcotics strike force over a December 2011 drug raid at their home. They claim the officers never identified themselves, burst into their home with guns drawn, "grabbed and verbally abused" them, and assaulted some of them. The suit also claims the narcotics officers falsified an affidavit used to obtain a search warrant, then fabricated evidence to support their claims that the family was involved in criminal activity. "The unlawful searches, use of force and detentions in this case were the direct result of all defendants’ pattern, practice and custom of subjecting citizens such as the plaintiffs to search, force and detention in the absence of probable cause," the complaint reads. "The defendant officers acted willfully, deliberately, maliciously or with reckless disregard of the plaintiffs’ constitutional and statutory rights." In addition to the federal civil rights count, the suit also contains supplemental state law claims of false arrest and imprisonment, assault and battery, negligent infliction of emotional distress, outrageous conduct causing emotional distress, defamation, and invasion of privacy. The Philadelphia PD has been hit by numerous lawsuits related to its narcotics squads.

In Brewton, Alabama, an Escambia County jail guard was arrested last Friday on charges she was smuggling drugs and other contraband into the jail. Jane Rogers Johnson, 58, went down in an unrelated investigation into another person posing as an attorney to get access to inmates, which led to her activities being revealed. She is accused of smuggling cocaine, pills, and other items into the jail and faces two counts of possession of a controlled substance, one count of drug trafficking, and one count of violating the state's ethics law. At last report, she was being held without bond.

In Jackson, Mississippi, a former Jackson narcotics detective pleaded guilty last Wednesday to helping in a scheme to get a man a reduced sentence in a drug case. Robert Shegog was one of three officers who took $45,000 in return for telling prosecutors that the man was an informant and deserved a lesser sentence. He pleaded guilty to one count of bribery. He's now looking at up to 10 years in federal prison.

In San Luis Obispo, California, a San Luis Obispo police officer pleaded guilty Monday to taking cash and drugs from two people, then selling fake drugs to dealers. Corey Pierce had been assigned to the county sheriff's narcotics unit, but has been on administrative leave since the FBI began investigating after his arrest in February. He has now copped to one federal count of extortion and will be sentenced in December.

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Thuggery in Philly, protecting drug shipments in Houston and Detroit, sticky fingers in Los Angeles, and that's not all. Let's get to it:

In Philadelphia, five undercover narcotics officers are the subject of a civil rights lawsuit filed by a man who claims he was wrongfully arrested during a drug raid at a friend's auto shop that included acts of police brutality directed at him and others present. Thomas Basara claims the narcs used a battering ram to break down an office door and conduct a search without a search warrant.  The lawsuit says the narcs never identified themselves as police, asked those present "where the money and drugs were hidden," then brutally assaulted them. Office Thomas Liciardello was named as an officer who struck one man with a steel pipe, knocking him unconscious, then kicked him in the mouth so hard his front upper row of teeth were separated from their roots.  He also broke the man's index finger and pointed his service revolver at the man's head, threatening to kill him. Basara claims that officers also beat him, knocking out two of his teeth and causing rib and back injuries, and that the narcs stole $41,000 in cash as drug profits, but only turned in $6,600, keeping $34,400 for themselves. The other officers named in the suit are Brian Reynolds, Brian Speiser, Michael Spicer and Lt. Robert Otto.

In Orange, Texas, a former Orange police officer was arrested last Tuesday after a citizen's complaint that he was stealing prescription pain pills. Taylor Scott Saleme resigned from his position as the complaint was investigated. He had worked as a Jefferson County sheriff's deputy for two years before joining the Orange Police Department last August. He is charged with possession of a controlled substance -- hydrocodone. He has bailed out of jail.

In Washington Park, Illinois, a Washington Park police officer was arrested last Thursday on charges he smuggled drugs to a female jail inmate. Douglas Young, 61, is charged with official misconduct for bringing narcotics and prescription drugs to an inmate of the St. Clair County Jail, where he "used his position as a law enforcement officer" to arrange jail visits to a woman in custody on theft charges. He was being held on $25,000 bail.

In Los Angeles, a former LA County sheriff's narcotics sergeant was arrested Monday on charges he stole $4,000 in cash during a sting set up by his own department. Bonnie Bryant III, 57, took the money in a July 2012 sting set up by the department's criminal internal affairs division. That sting went down after Bryant was caught on a business surveillance camera stealing money during a May 2012 bust. He is charged with one felony count each of grand theft of personal property and embezzlement by a public official. He was a narcotics task force supervisor when arrested and resigned from the department in December. He's looking at up to four years and six months if convicted.

In Houston, two former Houston police officer were convicted last Friday of protecting what they thought were drug shipments in return for bribes. Emerson Canizales, 27, and Michael Miceli, 27, went down after investigators learned they were involved in illegal conduct involving drugs and bribes. Both men acknowledged taking money to protect the drug load. They were convicted of extortion under color of law and face up to 20 years in prison when sentenced in September.

In Detroit, a former Highland park police officer was sentenced last Thursday to a year and a day in prison for agreeing to take money in exchange for delivering a shipment of cocaine. Craig Clayton, 55, was one of four Highland Park officers charged with taking bribes and conspiring to distribute cocaine. Clayton was accused of bringing his badge and gun to protect a shipment, and accepting $1,500 in cash from an FBI informant. He copped to one count of conspiracy to commit extortion. Two other officers in the case have pleaded guilty.

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

A Wisconsin cop and a Washington cop face justice for their pervy behavior, and a New Mexico jail guard and a Georgia cop get in trouble over marijuana. Let's get to it:

In Macon, Georgia, a Macon police officer was arrested last Thursday on drug and child endangerment charges. Officer Kontrina Lanette Toomer was arrested after a raid of her home turned up 11 ounces of marijuana packaged for sale. She is charged with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and child endangerment. Internal affairs officers took her gun and badge. The child endangerment charge appears to be merely because children were present in her home when marijuana was present.

In Clovis, New Mexico, a Curry County jail guard was arrested last Tuesday on charges she tried to smuggle marijuana into the jail. Erin Shields, 22, allegedly communicated with an inmate her willingness to bring in contraband and arranged for a third party to place it in her vehicle. She was carrying marijuana and tobacco on her when she was stopped and searched by sheriff's detectives as she arrived for work at the jail. She is charged with distribution of marijuana and bringing contraband into a place of imprisonment. Both are fourth-degree felonies. She is now a former Curry County jail guard.

In Auburn, Washington, a former Auburn police officer pleaded guilty Monday to fondling a woman he had pulled over for a traffic violation and then accused of smoking marijuana. John Michael Clemmons, 50, went down for a January 2012 incident in which he pulled over a 24-year-old woman who had pulled out of a bar parking lot. After following her to her home, where she parked her car, he had her take a field sobriety test, which she passed. Clemmons handcuffed the woman in the back of his patrol car and told her she could be taken to jail, that he smelled marijuana, and that he needed to search her. The woman said that while she was still handcuffed, he felt underneath her bra and clothing below her waist. She said he also used his flashlight to look inside her pants. Clemmons then asked for her phone number and if he could enter her residence, then grabbed her buttocks when she said no. The woman told him she felt that he may be trying to arrest her for prostitution or offering a sexual act, but he replied that he wouldn't arrest her for that and said he was off duty. (Court records and a police statement make clear he was on duty and in uniform.) Clemmons did not record the stop or notify dispatch. He pleaded guilty to fourth-degree assault and was sentenced to 80 hours of community service and two years deferred adjudication.

In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a former Milwaukee police officer was sentenced last Wednesday to two years in prison for performing illegal strip searches and body cavity searches on dozens of drug and other suspects. Michael Vagnini had pleaded no contest in April to four felonies and four misdemeanors. Prosecutors said Vagnini conducted searches inside men's underwear, sometimes inserting his finger in their rectums. Body cavity searches by police are prohibited by state law. Although Vagnini pleaded guilty weeks ago, he remained suspended with pay until he resigned at sentencing. Three other officers were charged with Vagnini. They were also suspended with pay pending trials later this year.

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Two of our three cases this week involve cops protecting their steroids dealers. Go figger. The other one is a crooked police chief who bragged, "I'm the best cop money can buy." Let's get to it:

In Arlington, Texas, an Arlington police officer was charged last Wednesday with revealing the name of an undercover narcotics officer to an illegal steroids dealer. Officer Thomas Kantzos is accused of using state and federal law enforcement databases at least a half-dozen times to check names and license plates for the dealer, who also peddled the pills to Kantzos and another Arlington police officer, Danial Vo. Vo shot and killed himself last Tuesday. The first time Kantzos checked records for the dealer, the dealer discovered that the man with the laptop parked down the street was a member of a local drug task force and that someone had hidden a tracking device on his car. The investigation into Kantzos and Vo revealed that a number of Arlington police were using steroids, at least one of whom also ran a records check for the dealer, who has since become a cooperating witness. Kantzos is charged with exceeding authorized access to a protected computer, which carries a maximum 10 years in prison and $250,000 fine.

In North Bend, Oregon, a former North Bend police officer pleaded guilty last Tuesday to tipping off an illegal steroids dealer about an ongoing investigation. William Downing, 43, admitted to using steroids himself and was found in possession of them when his home was searched by federal agents in 2011. Downing went down in a spin-off from a broader investigation into fraud by a defense contractor, whose sons got steroids from the same dealer Downing did. When search warrants were issued in the fraud case, Downing notified the steroids dealer and warned him that the two sons were under investigation and the feds could be monitoring their calls. Downing will do five years probation.

In Pittsburgh, a former East Washington police chief was sentenced last Friday to more than 11 years in federal prison for extorting $8,000 from undercover FBI agents he thought were drug dealers. Former Chief Donald Solomon, 57, went down in a sting operation where he protected two staged drug deals and agreed to buy the dealers police-issue stun guns in return for the cash. A paid informant introduced Solomon to the fake drug dealers, and he was recorded saying, "I'm the best cop money can buy."

Judge's Handyman Cops Plea in Georgia Sex, Drugs, Frame-Up [FEATURE]

Earlier this week, investigative journalist Clarence Walker published a Chronicle feature article, "Sex, Lies, and a Georgia Drug Frame-up," about how now ex-Murray County Chief Magistrate Judge Bryant Cochran allegedly attempted to have local woman Angela Garmley framed on bogus drug charges after she accused him of seeking sexual favors in return for helping her in a pending court case.

CJ helped his boss, the judge, by planting dope for him. Now he's looking at prison time. (photo courtesy Angela Garmley)
Two Murray County sheriff's deputies have already pleaded guilty to participating in the frame job, which consisted of a handyman employed by the judge hiding methamphetamine on Garmley's vehicle and her subsequent arrest by a deputy alerted to be on the lookout for her vehicle by a sheriff's captain who just happened to be the judge's cousin.

Today, the handyman, Clifford "CJ" Joyce, pleaded guilty in federal court in Rome, Georgia, to his role in the conspiracy. Joyce copped to one count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and is now looking at up to 20 years in federal prison, although federal sentencing guidelines call for a much shorter sentence.

"CJ pled, and the government colloquy was great and agreed to, saying that he did conspire to distribute meth, to 'discredit' the woman who had made complaints about Judge Cochran," Garmley's attorney McCracken Poston told the Chronicle. "It also came out that he was a tenant in Cochran's trailer park, and there is a third party intermediary that also needs to come to justice. He was the go-between with Cochran and CJ. He was not mentioned in court but I know who he is and got it confirmed with CJ's lawyer, as I developed the information and gave it to the feds."

The plea came after federal prosecutors presented evidence that Joyce was a middleman in the plot to get Garmley falsely arrested.

"The defendant attempted to manipulate the criminal justice system to serve his own purpose by framing someone for drug possession," said United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates. "While the narcotics charges were ultimately dismissed, this outrageous conduct cannot stand."  

"The investigation and prosecution of persons involved in public corruption are a priority of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. Many of the cases such as this require partnership of local, state and federal authorities," said GBI Director Vernon M. Keenan.

The three perpetrators of the Garmley frame-up have now all pleaded guilty in the case, but the alleged instigator, former Judge Cochran, is yet to even be indicted. And now, there's a fourth player. Stay tuned.

Rome, GA
United States

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

A pill-popping Florida cop goes to jail, a coke-slinging New York TSA agent gets busted, and a North Carolina narc gets fired. Let's get to it:

In Wilmington, North Carolina, a New Hanover County sheriff's narcotics officer was fired Tuesday, effective immediately, for violating departmental "truthfulness; evidence procedures; and drug policy." Lt. Joey LeBlanc was basically fired for violating procedures for handling seized drugs. He went down after his colleagues in the sheriff's drug unit began to notice "irregularities" in his actions and an internal investigation ensued. Local prosecutors said LeBlanc's actions have impacted several drug cases, both pending and closed. The State Bureau of Investigation is investigating, and local prosecutors will seek an outside prosecutor if any criminal charges are filed.

In Buffalo, New York, a TSA officer was arrested last Thursday on charges he was dealing in cocaine. Todd Stoddard, 29, went down after law enforcement received information about his alleged drug dealing, leading to a month-long investigation by the sheriff's office and the FBI Safe Streets Task Force. Stoddard worked at the Niagara Falls International Airport, but authorities don't believe he used his position there to smuggle drugs. He was charged with three counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree, criminal sale of a controlled substance and two counts of criminal use of drug paraphernalia.

In Brooksville, Florida, a former New Port Richey police office was sentenced last Thursday to three consecutive one-year jail terms after being convicted of possession of hydrocodone, fleeing law enforcement, and tampering with evidence. John Michael Nohejl had also been charged with trafficking hydrocodone, but the jury failed to convict him on that charge. Nohejl had been stopped for speeding by a Hernando County vice detective, but refused to identify himself and sped away. The detective and a police cruiser quickly caught up to him and found one pain pill on the driver's side floorboard and 27 more pills in a cellophane wrapper thrown from the vehicle as Nohejl fled. Nohejl had been suspended by the New Port Richey police before his arrest because of numerous disciplinary issues and was fired in February for failing to report his own arrest. While out on bail, Nohejl was arrested in April in Hernando County and charged with driving under the influence and possession of marijuana. That case has yet to be resolved.

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