Police Corruption

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This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Texas cop wanted cash to make a pot possession arrest go away, Hawaii cop had his own pot garden, Philly cop was peddling 'roids, and then there's the requisite prison guard. Let's get to it:

In San Antonio, Texas, a San Antonio police officer was arrested last Thursday for taking $500 from a man he arrested with marijuana to make the charges go away. Officer Curtis Lundy, 36, went down in a sting after the man he had arrested contacted the FBI. Under FBI supervision, the man then recorded cell phone calls with Lundy in which the pair made arrangements to meet for the payment, and when he arrived in his marked squad car, surveillance teams watched him collect an envelope containing the $500 from the man. He was charged with theft of honest services by wire fraud and if convicted, face faces up to 20 years in federal prison and a maximum $250,000 fine. For now, Lundy is in on administrative leave with pay. He was released on a personal recognizance bond last Friday.

In Philadelphia, a former Philadelphia police officer was sentenced last Monday to four years in federal prison for running an illicit steroid and human growth hormone distribution ring. Keith Gidelson, 36, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute anabolic steroids after prosecutors charged he purchased monthly shipments from suppliers in Europe and China, which he would then repackage and sell in area fitness clubs and out of his home. Gidelson was taken into custody immediately to begin serving his sentence. Two other former Philly cops have also pleaded guilty in the case and await sentencing.

In Monterey, California, a former state prison guard was sentenced last Wednesday to six years in state prison for smuggling drugs and cell phones to inmates in return for cash. Former guard Jose Fuentes had worked at the Correctional Training Facility State Prison in Soledad, where the court found he had systematically smuggled the items into the prison over a two-year period. He was convicted of bribery.

In Honolulu, Hawaii, a former Honolulu police officer was sentenced last Thursday to eight months in jail for growing marijuana with his girlfriend. Michael Steven Chu has until February 13 to turn himself in. Chu had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to grow and possess marijuana after DEA agents arrested him last April and found two separate residential marijuana grows, as well as a pound of pot in his vehicle. The girlfriend gets sentenced next month.

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Philadelphia keeps on paying for its out-of-control drug squad, and a pair of probation officers have pill-pilfering problems. Let's get to it:

In Philadelphia, the city has paid out $775,000 as of December 20 to settle lawsuits against members of a narcotics unit that had run amok. Since 1999, 34 lawsuits have been filed against squad members. Fifteen were settled for sums ranging from $5,000 for an alleged illegal search to $250,000 for a deadly high-speed police chase. Seventeen cases were closed without payment and two remain active. The officers have been targets not only of federal lawsuits, but of dozens of Internal Affairs complaints. They allegedly fabricated evidence, planted drugs, stole money and used excessive force. A week earlier, Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey transferred six of the dope squad members, including its commander, out of the unit after the District Attorney's Office informed him they had lost their credibility in court and would no longer be called to testify in drug cases. The office has withdrawn 68 drug cases and hundreds more could be affected, including cases where people have already been convicted based on the now untrustworthy testimony.

In Madison, Wisconsin, a former probation agent was charged December 20 with stealing prescription drugs from probationers. Kim Hoenisch, 41, who worked in the Department of Corrections' Wausau office, is accused of stealing Vicodin pills from probationers when they showed up for urine tests during office visits, stealing Vicodin from a probationer's home, stealing Vicodin from her cousin's house, and stealing oxycodone from another woman's house. She faces multiple charges, including felony drug possession and misconduct in office.

In Casper, Wyoming, a former state probation officer pleaded guilty December 20 to charges she stole prescription drugs from probationers. Ruby Mattox, 34, admitted repeatedly intentionally spilling her probationers' pill bottles and pocketed some of the pills as she picked them up. She also stole an entire bottle of prescription pills from an acquaintance and embezzled money collected by coworkers for a fundraising event. In a plea bargain, she pleaded guilty to four misdemeanor theft counts and one felony count of drug possession. She will be sentenced at a later date, but will avoid prison time as part of the plea bargain.

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

A small-town Florida department run amok loses its chief -- at least temporarily -- an Alabama cop gets caught delivering weed, four South Texas cops get caught running cocaine, and a Camden, New Jersey, sergeant goes down for a dope squad run amok there. Let's get to it:

In Bal Harbour, Florida, the Bal Harbour police chief was suspended last Wednesday after a US Justice Department report said the department had misspent millions of dollars in drug money it had seized. Chief Thomas Hunker, 61, has been suspended with pay while an outside law enforcement agency investigates. The Bal Harbour police had developed the habit of conducting undercover operations all over the country to target drug dealers and their cash. Records show the agency doled out $624,558 in payments to informants in less than four years, and ran up $23,704 in one month for cross-country trips with first-class flights and luxury car rentals. The feds have frozen millions that Bal Harbour police helped confiscate, and the Justice Department now wants the village to return more than $4 million. The Justice Department also accused Hunker of professional misconduct for, among other things, conducting unauthorized checks of national criminal records databases for individuals who did not have access to those systems; receiving multiple gifts from people who may have benefited from his influence; allowing a drunk individual to drive a marked police vehicle on a beach, getting a "sweet deal" on his wife's car purchase after the department bought several vehicles from the same dealer; allowing inflated overtime on money-laundering investigations; and improperly paying informants.

In Montgomery, Alabama, a Montgomery police officer was arrested last Wednesday after he was caught delivering more than three pounds of high-grade marijuana to a home in Mobile County. Officer Lyvanh Ravasong is charged with marijuana trafficking. Ravasong went down when he arrived at the residence at the wrong time -- as Mobile County Sheriff's deputies were executing a search warrant at the address. Ravasong is also believed to be associated with a 16-acre pot farm discovered in October near Chunchala. Officer Ravasong is now former officer Ravasong.

In McAllen, Texas, four South Texas lawmen were arrested late last week on charges they accepted thousands of dollars in bribes to guard shipments of cocaine. Mission Police Officer Jonathan Trevino, 29, and Hidalgo County Sheriff's deputies Fabian Rodriguez, 28, and Gerardo Duran, 30, were arrested last Friday, while Mission Police Officer Alexis Espinosa was arrested a day earlier. All four were members of an anti-drug trafficking task force called the Panama Unit, but are accused of instead providing protection for traffickers. Trevino is the son of Hidalgo County Sheriff Lupe Hidalgo. Federal prosecutors said they received a tip in August that task force members had been stealing drugs and set up a sting. The sting resulted in Duran and another task force member escorting 20 kilograms of cocaine north from McAllen, for which they were paid $4,000. The other task force members earned thousands more dollars for escorting four more cocaine shipments in November. It's unclear what the actual charges are, but all four were being held on $100,000 bonds.

In Camden, New Jersey, a former Camden police sergeant was sentenced last Wednesday to eight months in federal prison for his role as the supervising officer of a corrupt anti-drug squad that stole cash, conducted illegal searches, planted drugs and falsified reports. Dan Morris, 49, had previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to deprive others of their civil rights. He admitted that between May 2007 and September 2008, he conducted illegal searches without a warrant or consent, obtained coerced consents to search residences based on threats and undue pressure, stole money during illegal searches and arrests, and allowed officers he supervised to include facts in police reports that were false. Morris is the third Camden officer to plead guilty in the conspiracy, while a fourth was found guilty at trial, and a fifth was acquitted. The FBI probe of the conspiracy has resulted in the reversal of about 200 drug convictions of suspects arrested by the unit between 2007 and 2009, when the cops were arrested. Morris, a city officer since 1986, was the unit’s supervisor during the time of the investigation.

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Another Border Patrol agent goes bad, an Orlando cop power trips his way to trouble, a former Texas cop has problems with sticky fingers, and the Philadelphia dope squad has made a real mess for prosecutors. Let's get to it:

In Yuma, Arizona, a US Border Patrol officer was arrested last Sunday after authorities said he used his official vehicle to smuggle drugs across the border while on duty. Aaron Anaya allegedly stopped along the border, then loaded up several bundles of marijuana that had been dropped over the fence from Mexico, according to the complaint filed this week in federal court in Arizona. He went down when agents assigned to the Southwest Border Corruption Task Force spotted him at the fence and continued to track him. He was later arrested with nearly 147 pounds of marijuana found in three black duffel bags in his Border Patrol vehicle. He is charged with possession with intent to distribute marijuana and carrying a firearm - his service weapons - while committing the crime.

In Orlando, Florida, an Orlando police officer was arrested last Monday on charges he had sex with a 22-year-old prostitute while she was handcuffed in a police substation. The young woman was in a stolen car with her boyfriend and another man when Officer Roderick Johnson pulled them over. Officers found a small amount of marijuana in the car. Johnson let the two men go, but detained the young woman while making flirtatious remarks. Johnson then had sex with her and gave her $40. The woman said she was not coerced into sex or raped, but feared facing additional charges of pot possession and driving on a suspended license. She went to police days later, fearing she had contracted a sexually transmitted disease. Johnson now faces two counts of sexual battery and has been released on a $10,500 bail bond.

In Nassau Bay, Texas, a former Nassau Bay police officer was arrested Monday on charges she stole money and tampered with drug evidence from the department evidence room. Theresa Relken is charged with stealing $500 from the evidence room and taking pills that were stored there. She went down when the Harris County DA's Office discovered that prescription pills seized in an ongoing investigation had never been submitted for analysis. The missing pills were traced to Relken. An audit uncovered shortages in the inventory of narcotics that should have been in the evidence room, prosecutors said. Relken was charged Monday with tampering with evidence and theft by a public servant. She faces up to 12 years in prison and a $20,000 fine if convicted on both charges.

In Philadelphia, state prosecutors dropped a number of drug cases last Thursday that involved a recently dismantled and scandal-ridden drug squad. Five members of the squad were transferred out of narcotics. For years, the squad has been the target of numerous federal lawsuits -- many of them settled -- charging that squad members fabricated evidence, planted drugs, stole money, and used excessive force. Federal prosecutors have refused to use squad members as witnesses in drug cases for at least two years. Now, local prosecutors are dropping dozens more criminal cases.

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Greed strikes down a pair of cops, including a Bay Area drug task force commander, and two more go down because of dope habits they picked up along the way. Let's get to it:

In Leola, South Dakota, the former Leola police chief pleaded guilty last Wednesday to violating probation by stealing $37,000 from the town's fire department. Copping to two counts of grand theft means former chief John Grabowska has also violated the terms of the probation he was serving for stealing $3,200 from a man he busted for growing marijuana. Instead of reporting the money as evidence, Grabowska kept it.

In Oakland, California, the former commander of the Central Contra Costa County Narcotics Enforcement Team pleaded guilty Wednesday to stealing drugs from evidence lockers and trying to sell them on the street, as well as operating a brothel and using phony sting operations to rob prostitutes. Norman Weilsch, 51, copped to five charges and is looking at up to 17 year in prison. The elite unit he commanded was charged with conducting drug and prostitution investigations. Wielsch and a private investigator were both indicted; the private investigator has already pleaded guilty.

In New York City, a former NYPD officer was sentenced last Wednesday to 15 ½ years in prison for stealing guns from police lockers and selling them to drug dealers. Nicholas Mina admitted selling four NYPD-issued guns to a drug ring. As part of his plea agreement, he admitted that he was strung out on oxycodone and stole the guns to pay for his pill habit. He was a five-year veteran.

In Hatboro, Pennsylvania, a former Hatboro police officer was sentenced last Friday to 15 days in jail, two years of house arrest, and seven years of probation for coercing his informants to buy drugs for him and for stealing drugs and money from the department evidence room. John Becker, 43, a 17-year veteran of the department, had pleaded guilty to 18 charges, including 10 firearms counts, and was looking at up to 100 years behind bars. He had served on the Montgomery County Drug Task and the Bucks County Drug Task Force and went into drug treatment after being arrested in spring 2011.

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

There seem to be some problems with drug task force leadership in Mississippi, and a Michigan cop gets in trouble for treating the forfeiture shed as his own personal pawn shop. Let's get to it:

In Eastpointe, Michigan, a former detective was charged November 16 with stealing tires, slot machines, watches, and other items from the Eastpointe Police forfeiture shed for drugs and money. The as yet unnamed former officer is charged with misconduct in office and embezzlement. The former cop allegedly gave the items to a confidential informant to sell.

In Oxford, Mississippi, the former head of the Lafayette County Metro Narcotics Unit was arrested last Monday on charges he was "doctor shopping" for prescription pain pills. Searn Lynch was still head of the unit until he was arrested, then he was fired. He is accused of getting prescriptions from at least 17 different doctors. Lynch joined the department in 1999 and served as head of the narcotics unit for several years. He allegedly received one hydrocodone prescription in 2005; when arrested, he had 15 different prescriptions for hydrocodone and two more for oxycodone. He has been released on a $5,000 bond.

In Pascagoula, Mississippi, the former Jackson County Narcotics Task Force commander was indicted last Friday for a shooting at the task force's Pascagoula office. Sgt. Jackie Trussell, the former task force commander, got himself into criminal trouble when he shot a round from his gun into the office floor at the feet of another agent who had threatened to poke him with a hypodermic needle. Trussell said he was afraid of needles. The other agent suffered a minor wound to his shin when a bullet fragment hit it. The shooting incident led several local jurisdictions to withdraw from the task force. Trussell is charged with misdemeanor simple assault and is looking at up to six months in jail. He has been released on a $1,000 bond.

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

We have a trio of corrupt cops this week, including a former sheriff and a former police chief. Let's get to it:

In Rockingham, North Carolina, a former Rockingham police chief was indicted last Tuesday on charges he stole thousands of dollars in seized drug money. Robert Vorhees, a 21-year veteran, had resigned in February, citing medical reasons, but city officials said they discovered "significant irregularities" in financial records and a checking account at a local bank where Vorhees apparently deposited money. He has now been indicted on charges he embezzled more than $38,000.

In Mecklenburg, Virginia, a former Halifax County sheriff was indicted last Tuesday on charges he stole sheriff's office funds, including monies intended for drug interdiction. Former Sheriff Stanley Noblin faces 21 forgery and embezzlement charges. Search warrants issued in the case indicated that up to $113,180.50 in funds was missing from the sheriff’s office. The allegations against Noblin were first aired by former Sheriff Jeff Oakes, who lost a bitter 2007 election to him.

In Pine City, Minnesota, a Pine County sheriff's deputy was arrested last Friday on charges he stole narcotic pain pills on multiple occasions. Deputy Justin Stoddard is accused of taking pain pills from a Pine City home in October when he stopped by to warn residents about narcotics thieves purportedly casing the neighborhood. He is also accused of taking oxycodone from a residence while investigating a custody dispute a month earlier. He faces seven criminal counts, including theft of a controlled substances and official misconduct.

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

A tweaked out former Oklahoma police chief cops a plea, a Mississippi cop admits to running interference for supposed drug traffickers, and a Louisiana narc goes to prison for stealing guns and money. Let's get to it:

In Jackson, Mississippi, a former Jackson police officer pleaded guilty last Wednesday to charges he accepted bribes to protect drug shipments. Anthony Payne is one of three officers charged in the case; the other two have already pleaded guilty. They made the fatal error of mistaking an FBI undercover agent for a drug dealer and fell for his sting. Payne pleaded guilty to one count of bribery and faces up to 10 years in prison when sentenced in January.

In Valley Brook, Oklahoma, the former Valley Brook police chief pleaded guilty last Friday to meth possession. Former Chief Melvin Fisher Jr. was arrested in September 2011 when police found cocaine and marijuana in his car during a traffic stop. He was originally charged with drug trafficking, possession of a controlled drug with intent to distribute cocaine, possession of a controlled drug with intent to distribute marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia, but ended up copping to the single count of meth possession. He was given a 10-year suspended sentence.

In Baton Rouge, Louisiana, a former Baton Rouge narcotics officer was sentenced last Friday to two years in state prison for stealing three shotguns and more than $27,000 in cash that was to be used as evidence in drug cases. Michael Thompson, 29, must also repay the stolen cash. He copped to one count of felony theft for repeated thefts between September 2010 and April 2011.The thefts were discovered when an upcoming narcotics case was being prepared for trial and investigators noticed money to be used as evidence was missing. Thompson was the narcotics officer assigned to that case. Prosecutors said some drug cases have had to be dismissed because the evidence was missing. Thompson said he was strung out on pain pills when he committed the thefts.

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Week after week, the beat goes on. Here's the latest on the bad cop front. Let's get to it:

In Baltimore, a Baltimore police detective was arrested last Thursday on charges he lied on a search warrant application to gain entry to a residence and then tried to obstruct an internal affairs investigation. Detective Adam Lewellen, 30, "willfully and falsely made an oath to a District Court judge that falsely described an alleged controlled buy by a confidential informant and an investigation into a suspect" in order to obtain a search-and-seizure warrant for the home in March. That raid resulted in illegal weapons charges against the home owner, but those charges have had to be dropped.

In Baker, Louisiana, a former Baker probation officer was arrested last Thursday allegedly accepting a $200 bribe from a former city employee who had to take a drug test because of an accident. Peron McCastle, 50, was responsible for administering mandatory drug screens to city employees involved in traffic accidents while driving city vehicles. In August, 2010, a city employee backed a vehicle into a pole and had to take a drug test. McCastle reported that the test was negative, but then told the employee he had actually failed the test and he wanted $200 to record the negative test result.

In Memphis, a former Memphis police officer was sentenced last Wednesday to four years in federal prison after getting entangled in an FBI drug sting. Michael Sinnock purchased 20 pain pills and two pounds of marijuana from an informant, and tried in vain to argue they were for his sick wife, not for distribution. He also escorted the informant as he trafficked duffel bags supposedly filled with 200 pounds of marijuana. Sinnock, 37, copped to attempting to possess hydrocodone with intent to distribute.

In Springfield, Massachusetts, a former Holyoke police officer was sentenced last Thursday to 2 ½ years in state prison for dealing cocaine. Paul Barkyoumb had pleaded guilty to three counts of cocaine distribution. Barkyoumb was a narcotics detective when he was arrested in June 2011 after selling coke to a cooperating witness.

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Cops, including a pair of former police chiefs, have been getting arrested on drug-related charges all over the place this past week and, of course, a jail guard, too. Let's get to it:

In Opelika, Alabama, a Lee County jail guard was arrested last Tuesday for allegedly smuggling marijuana into the jail. Dequinn Cortez Wright, 30, is charged with unlawful distribution of a controlled substance (marijuana) and second-degree promoting prison contraband. Wright went down after "some suspicions developed" that he was bringing contraband into the jail. After a two-month investigation, Wright was charged. He is now a former Lee County jail guard.

In Chandler, Oklahoma, a Gary, Indiana, police officer was arrested last Tuesday after she and her boyfriend were caught with 48 pounds of marijuana during a traffic stop. Patrolman Marla Guye, 29, and her partner consented to a search of their vehicle, and troopers found the weed packed inside a suitcase. Guye failed to show up at a court hearing Monday after being granted bail earlier, so she is now considered a fugitive.

In Waveland, Mississippi, a University of Mississippi Medical Center police officer was arrested last Tuesday on drug charges. Joshua Poyadou, 27, is charged with transfer of a controlled substance after he was observed participating in a prescription pill transaction in a parking lot in Waveland, where he had formerly served as a police officer.

In Flomaton, Alabama, the former Flomaton police chief and an officer were arrested Monday on charges that suggest they were dipping into the evidence. Former Chief Daniel Thompson and Officer Joseph Neal were arrested following an investigation by the Alabama Bureau of Investigation. Thompson was charged with three counts of possession of a controlled substance, three counts of second degree theft of property, tampering with physical evidence and an ethics violation. Neal was charged with third degree burglary, tampering with physical evidence, obstructing governmental operations and ethics violations. He was booked and released on a $30,000 bond, while Thompson remains behind bars. Thompson was promoted to chief in March after then Chief Geoffrey McGraw was arrested on kidnapping charges across the state line Florida. Thompson resigned in August as the ABI investigation got underway.

In Chicago, a former North Chicago police chief was arrested Tuesday and charged with stealing more than $140,000 that had been seized in drug arrests. Former Chief Michael Newsome, 51, was accused of using the money to buy a new car and do home repairs on his kitchen, among other personal expenditures. He is charged with one count of ongoing theft and a separate count of theft for withdrawing money from a department account to pay for his children's school, as well as official misconduct and misapplication of funds. Newsome had resigned in February in the midst of an uproar over police brutality, and the mayor then directed Newsome's successor to review all internal police policies. During his review, he discovered questionable withdrawals from the department's asset forfeiture fund.

In Chicago, a former Chicago police officer was sentenced last Friday to 18 months in federal prison for shaking down drug dealers. Kallatt Mohammed, 47, pleaded guilty earlier this year to stealing $5,200 in cash that he believed belonged to a drug dealer. But the man he took the bagful of money from last November was an FBI informant. Mohammed told the court he had only acted under the direction of his sergeant, Ronald Watts, who Mohammed said wouldn't give him leave to visit his children in Ohio unless he went along with the scheme. Watts, who continues to deny orchestrating the scheme, has yet to stand trial.

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