There is something rotten in the state of Tennessee, with the stench of police corruption stretching from the banks of the Mississippi to the hazy ridges of the Great Smoky Mountains, and this stuff is pretty rotten. Meanwhile, there's an apparent case of, er, overly aggressive policing in Florida and the mandatory prison or jail guard in trouble. Let's get to it:
In Cocke County, Tennessee, former Cocke County Sheriff's Department Chief Deputy Patrick Allen Taylor's guilty plea to conspiring to sell thousands of dollars of stolen NASCAR goods is only the tip of the iceberg of corrupt, criminal activities in the Cocke County Sheriff's Department, federal prosecutors alleged in a motion seeking a prison sentence far higher than federal sentencing guidelines call for, the Knoxville News-Sentinel reported Monday. According to prosecutors, Taylor was involved in robbery schemes, extortion, protection rackets, cockfighting, ripping off drug dealers, and tolerating drug use among department insiders. Taylor is the nephew of former Sheriff DC Ramsey, who resigned under pressure in the same federal corruption probe that has now brought down his nephew. Known as "Rose Thorn," the federal operation has led to the arrests of eight Cocke County lawmen and 170 other people, and has led to the closure of brothels, cockfighting pits, and a video amusement company. For more on the whole sordid affair, check out the News-Sentinel's special report, "Cocke County Confidential."
In Memphis, former Reserve Memphis Police Officer Andrew Hunt pleaded guilty last Friday to robbing drug dealers of cash, cocaine, and personal belongings. He could face up to life in prison, but that's unlikely since he has agreed to cooperate with prosecutors, the Memphis Commercial Appeal reported. Three other Memphis police officers have already been indicted in the case, and more indictments could be coming, prosecutors warned. Hunt was part of "a gang of corrupt uniformed officers" who ripped off at least 20 drug dealers, prosecutors said. And these guys were really sleazy: In one case, Hunt stole drugs, cash, and a $15,000 watch from one dealer, then told him he could buy his drugs back. When the dealer came up with $9500 in cash, Hunt took the money and kept the drugs.
In Surfside, Florida, police are investigating charges two Surfside police officers conspired to plant drugs in the vehicle of a local civic activist, Miami TV station Local 10 News reported September 7. Two officers, Sgt. John Davis and Officer Woody Brooks, have been suspended after allegedly plotting to plant cocaine in the car of Jay Senter, who had previously tangled with Sgt. Davis over the case of a French couple cited for numerous code violations and fined hundreds of thousands of dollars for renting homes in Surfside to vacationers. According to the allegations, Davis and Brooks were overheard plotting to plant the drugs in retaliation for Senter's reporting another officer to the FBI in the code violations case. Interestingly, Surfside Vice Mayor Howard Weinberg told Local 10 the same officers had conspired to arrest him for drunk driving near a local bar and release the dashboard camera video in a bid to embarrass him, but the plot was foiled because he only drinks iced tea when he goes out. Another, anonymous local official told Local 10 Davis was behaving "like a Nazi" toward political opponents.
In Westchester, New York, a Westchester County prison guard was sentenced to probation last week for interfering in a drug investigation, the North Country Gazette reported. Timothy Connolly, 39, pleaded guilty to one count of second degree hindering prosecution and one count of drug possession. He will be under supervision for the next five years. Connolly was arrested during a combined investigation by the Westchester District Attorney Narcotics Initiative (W-DANI), Yonkers Police, New York State Police and Westchester County Department of Correction Special Investigations Unit, and was told to keep his mouth shut about the bust. But he later warned one of the main targets of the investigation he was being watched, told him to "shut down" his cocaine sales operation, and advised him not to use his phone because it was being monitored. Connolly was fired from the Westchester County Department of Correction on September 7, the same day he pleaded guilty.