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This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Philadelphia pays for police misbehavior, more cops get caught pilfering the evidence, one gets caught helping a heroin dealer, and another goes down hard for helping drug traffickers. Let's get to it:

In Philadelphia, the city has quietly settled 21 lawsuits filed by shop owners after members of the Narcotics Field Unit stole cash and merchandise when ostensibly raiding the places in search of small plastic bags used to sell drugs. The unit's actions exploded into a major scandal in 2009 when a security camera unit members thought they had disabled recorded their actions on a computer hard drive. The result was an FBI investigation of the officers, dropped charges against some defendants, and numerous federal civil right lawsuits filed by people who said they were abused or framed by the squad. The 21 who have settled so far have received an average pay out of $40,000. No officers have yet been charged, but the FBI continues to investigate.

In Baltimore, a Baltimore police sergeant was arrested last Wednesday on charges he made up information to obtain a drug search warrant. Sgt. Dennis Workley, a 16-year veteran of the force, is charged with perjury and misconduct over a December drug raid. Baltimore police investigated after receiving a citizen's complaint, and it is alleged discrepancies in his warrant application for that raid showed he "cut and pasted" text from another case. Workley has been suspended.

In Hatboro, Pennsylvania, a former Hatboro police detective-sergeant was arrested last Thursday on charges he stole guns, drugs, and cash from the department evidence room and used a police informant to buy drugs for him. John Becker, 42, was the evidence room custodian and is accused of stealing 10 guns between 2003 and 2011, along with $18,000 in cash, and more than $2,000 in drugs. Prosecutors said it was to feed his opiate pain pill habit, and that he also "convinced or coerced several individuals to make numerous drug purchases on his behalf, including powerful prescription pain medications such as OxyContin and Percocet, along with cocaine" under the pretense that he was doing undercover drug investigations. Numerous items missing from the evidence room were found during a search of his home last year. He faces numerous charges.

In Suffield, Connecticut, a Suffield police officer was arrested last Friday for stealing cash from a drug bust. Jeremy DePietro was the arresting officer in a March 2011 call where officers found narcotics and $332 in cash. After the case was disposed of, the court ordered the drugs destroyed and the cash placed in the court's general fund, but the cash was gone. An investigation pointed to DePietro. He is now charged with tampering with evidence and sixth degree larceny. He was also fired. He is out on $24,000 bond.

In New York City, a Queens-based NYPD officer was arrested Tuesday on charge he used his position to gain access to sensitive computer records and pass them on to a convicted heroin dealer. Officer Devon Daniels, 30, went down in a DEA investigation that included wiretaps after agents found evidence he used an NYPD database to look up license plate numbers and check the status of criminal warrants for heroin traffickers in Jamaica, Queens. He is heard on wiretaps asking the dealer for money, "any working revolver," and the use of one of his cars. On one occasion, while driving the dealer's car, he stopped at the scene of an arrest of one of the dealer's crew, quizzed police about what was going on, and immediately reported back to the dealer. He has not yet been formally charged and is out on $150,000 bond awaiting arraignment.

In Carlsbad, California, a Carlsbad police officer pleaded guilty last Thursday to stealing heroin from the department evidence room. Officer Michael Koch, 44, was arrested in January after two employees saw him stealing the dope. Prosecutors said Koch was strung out and stole the drugs for personal use. He entered rehab after being arrested. He will be sentenced June 20 and is expected to receive probation. In the meantime, he's still collecting his $86,000 annual salary while a departmental internal investigation continues.

In San Juan, Puerto Rico, a former Arecibo police officer was sentenced last Friday to 24 years in federal prison for his role in a drug ring. David Gonzalez-Perez was indicted with 16 other people in a 70-count drug trafficking indictment in September 2010 and was found guilty of 28 counts of conspiracy and attempt to possess with intent to distribute cocaine after a two-week trial in August 2011. He participated in 15 drug transactions, which totaled over 200 kilograms of cocaine and received $36,000 in payments for his security services during the drug transactions. He also recruited 15 others to provide armed security with him during these drug transactions, including his brother and sister-in-law.

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

We inadvertently missed a week last week, but the corrupt cops didn't. Let's get to it:

In Hanford, California, a Hanford police officer was arrested May 3 on drug charges. Officer Ernesto Servin, 30, was arrested when he arrived for work at the police department and police found Oxycontin, methamphetamine, and marijuana in his car. Authorities suspect he got the drugs from arrests he made and cases he worked as a Hanford Police officer. He is charged with falsifying police reports and drug possession. He resigned from the department the same day.

In Newark, New Jersey, a former Newark police officer was convicted last Friday of shaking down drug dealers for cash, guns, and dope. Darious Smith was indicted in 2004 along with half a dozen other Neward police officers, and a jury found him guilty of conspiracy to commit official misconduct, official misconduct and theft. Five witnesses, including a former patrol partner, testified that he stole cash from dealers and planted guns and drugs on them.

In Miami, a former Hialeah Gardens police officer was convicted Monday of ripping off marijuana dealers and selling their stashes. Lawrence Perez, 44, and four other area men stole 10 pounds in one faked traffic stop and 14 pounds in another. They were also plotting to hit a major marijuana grow, but the FBI, DEA, and Miami-Dade police were onto them by then. Perez, a former detective, is looking at up to 40 years in federal prison. He will be sentenced July 26.

In Hartford, Connecticut, a former New York police officer was sentenced last Friday to 37 months in federal prison for taking bribes to let a drug courier go unmolested through a New York airport. Former Westchester County police officer Michael Brady, 36, took $20,000 in payoffs from drug dealers. He had earlier pleaded guilty to charges of extortion and receiving a bribe. Brady had been assigned to the Westchester County Airport, where a drug dealer regularly passed traveling between Connecticut and Florida. Brady went down after the dealer got caught up in a federal investigation of his oxycodone smuggling ring.

In Brownsville, Texas, a former reserve law enforcement officer was sentenced Monday to 13 year in federal prison after he was caught coming over a bridge from Mexico with 20 pounds of cocaine and heroin. Mercedes Perez, 55, was a Nueces County Constable's reserve officer when he got caught. He was convicted of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute heroin and cocaine and possession with intent to distribute heroin and cocaine.

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

A pot-growing prosecutor, a heroin-filled burrito-smuggling deputy, and a cop who made a habit of ripping off drug dealers at a nightclub all made the news this week. Let's get to it:

In Ukiah, California, a Mendocino County prosecutor was put on paid leave April 26 while sheriff's deputies investigate his connection to a marijuana garden found at his home. Deputy District Attorney Sergio Fuentes has not been arrested, nor has his mother, with whom he shares the home. Sheriff's deputies said they found 150 plants growing there. Fuentes works in the District Attorney's criminal division.

In Los Angeles, an LA County sheriff's deputy pleaded guilty Monday to smuggling heroin-filled burritos into a courthouse jail. Deputy Henry Marin, 27, got caught bringing the burritos into an airport-area courthouse where he worked. He pleaded guilty to bringing drugs into a jail and conspiracy to commit a crime. Sentencing has been set for June 25. Sawyer has been relieved of duty.

In Savannah, Georgia, a former Savannah-Chatham police officer was sentenced Monday to 18 months in federal prison for ripping off drug dealers at a night club where he worked private security and reselling the drugs himself. Floyd Sawyer was originally charged with drug trafficking conspiracy, extortion, possessing a firearm during a crime of violence, and lying to federal agents, but copped a plea to a single count of extortion. He and another Savannah-Chatham police officer worked security at the night club while in uniform and carrying their department-issued weapons. Sawyer was arrested in May 2010 and fired the following September. He has to report to prison by June 1.

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

It's been a quiet week on the corrupt cop front, but we still have a pair of California cops who thought they were the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers and an Oklahoma cop who couldn't keep his fingers out of the cookie jar--and some late-breaking news out of LA. Let's get to it:

In Los Angeles, two current and two former TSA screeners at LAX were arrested Wednesday by DEA agents and US marshals on federal charges they allowed large shipments of cocaine, meth, and marijuana to pass through security checkpoints. Current agents John Whitfield, 23, and Capeline Kinney, 25, and former agents Joy White, 27, and Naral Richardson,30, all face multiple federal drug trafficking conspiracy charges involving loads of four or more pounds of meth and 20 or more pounds of cocaine. It's unclear how they went down, but the DEA also reported it had taken one drug courier into custody and expected another one to turn himself in Wednesday.The four are accused of taking cash payments of as much as $2,400 to allow suitcases filled with dope to pass through X-ray machines at Los Angeles International Airport. All four are looking at up to life in prison.

In Alexandria, Virginia, a California police officer and a former officer were arrested last Tuesday as they showed up to deliver 27 pounds of marijuana. Selma police officer Frederick Sayles, 34, former Selma police officer Gabriel Sepeda, 38, and another man were arrested by DEA agents who were part of a task force with Alexandria police. All three are charged with conspiracy to import marijuana and conspiracy to distribute marijuana. Additional charges might be pending, police said. At last report, all three men are being held without bond at the Alexandria Adult Detention Center. Preliminary hearings for them are scheduled for May 21.

In McHenry, Oklahoma, a McHenry police officer was arrested last Tuesday on charges he stole money confiscated during a drug arrest. Police discovered the money was missing during a routine audit and zeroed in on Officer Dale Hojnacki, 35. He is now a former officer, having resigned following his arrest, and he is charged with felony theft of more than $500. He was taken to the McHenry County Jail on a $15,000 bond. Silly officer! Only the state gets to take money in a drug arrest, not the state's agents.

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

This week, we have a grab bag of crooked law enforcement types, including a big city cop, a probation officer, a prosecutor, and a TSA agent. Let's get to it:

In Durham, North Carolina, a state probation officer was arrested last Thursday on drug trafficking charges. Todd Tronzo, 35, faces four counts of trafficking Schedule I drugs, two counts of possession with the intent to manufacture, sell or deliver Schedule I drugs, two counts of maintaining a vehicle for the sale or possession of controlled substances, and one count each of trafficking by transportation, trafficking by possession and possession of drug paraphernalia. He was being held in the Vance County jail under a $1 million bond. Police said the arrest was part of an ongoing investigation. Tronzo has been a probation officer with the Division of Community Correction since February 2007 and is now on "unapproved leave."

In North Bergen, New Jersey, a North Bergen municipal prosecutor was arrested last Friday on charges he was involved in a marijuana distribution network that shipped up to a thousand pounds of pot from Northern California. Marcanton Macri, 44, is charged with money laundering and financial facilitation. Macri was caught up in the investigation of two local men who were making regular trips to California's Emerald Triangle area and sending weed back to Jersey from various Northern California post offices. That pair used the services of a local assistant bank manager to help deal with their cash, and Macri is accused of facilitating that relationship. He has been suspended from his prosecutor's gig.

In New Haven, Connecticut, a former Transportation Security Administration officer pleaded guilty Tuesday for his role in a pain pill trafficking ring. Jonathan Best, 30, copped to a single count of conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute oxycodone. He accepted $2,500 from a trafficker and $1,000 from an undercover law enforcement officer to allow the trafficker to pass through security at Palm Beach International Airport with thousands of pills that he believed were to be sold in Connecticut. But the trafficker was a snitch, and Best went down. He's looking at up to 20 years.

In Houston, a former Houston police sergeant was sentenced last Thursday to 15 years in federal prison for taking a bribe and, while in uniform, using his patrol car to escort a load of cocaine. Leslie Aikens, 47, was convicted of corruption charges last fall after getting burnt in a sting operation by the FBI and the Texas Rangers. Investigators had received a tip that Aikens was dirty, and arranged for him to escort a load of 15 pounds of cocaine coming into Houston.  In return, he was to be paid $2,000. Aikens' defense argued unsuccessfully that he didn't know drugs were involved and he thought he was escorting a load of beer.

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

More pain pill peddling, plus a pervy DARE officer, and a Hawaii cop with a medical marijuana card who was allegedly up to more than maintaining his own health. Let's get to it:

In Glasgow, West Virginia, a Glasgow police officer was arrested last Thursday on charges he was peddling pain pills. Donald Scott Wills, 43, went down after an informant told police he had engaged in multiple drug transactions with Wills, and that Wills had bought drugs while in uniform and while in his police cruiser. Police set up surveillance of an area home, where the informant sold 30 oxycodone tablets to Wills, who gave him $30 and said he would pay the rest of the money for the pills once he got rid of them. He was then arrested on a single count of possession of a controlled substance with the intent to distribute.

In Edwardsville, Illinois, an Edwardsville Police DARE officer was arrested Monday on charges he was taking surreptitious videos of women undressing at a tanning salon. Officer Michael Collins, 46, went down after a customer at the tanning salon complained she saw him videotaping her with his cell phone over a wall as she prepared for a tanning session. Police confiscated his cell phone and found videos of at least two other women. Collins is charged with felony unauthorized video recording and has been suspended with pay by the department.  He's free on his own recognizance.

In Honolulu, a Honolulu police officer was arrested Tuesday on charges he was involved in a marijuana grow operation. Officer Michael Chu, 41, is facing federal marijuana possession, distribution, and cultivation charges. While Chu has a medical marijuana card, the feds allege that they uncovered a marijuana sales ring. They seized $12,000 in cash, about 20 pot plants, and found a pound of marijuana and several money orders in Chu's police car. The bust went down after Fedex reported a suspicious package from California that turned out to contain eight clones.Last year, the DEA intercepted a package containing 14 pounds of marijuana that was destined for the same address.

In Rogersville, Arkansas, a Hawkins County jail guard was arrested Tuesday on charges he was peddling pain pills. David Wayne "Big Time" Richards went down after the sheriff's office received a tip that he was involved in pill trafficking. Deputies used an informant to set up a drug buy, then pulled Richards over in a traffic stop. They seized 1,345 10-milligram Lortab pills and $650 in cash. Richards was charged with possession of Schedule III narcotics with intent to deliver and as of Tuesday evening was being held on $100,000 bond pending arraignment May 2. He was fired from his jailer position, too. Richards is a well-known figure in the community, having served as an alderman in the town of Surgoinville, but he is best known for dressing up as Santa Claus for an annual Christian motorcycle charity "Toy Run." He's looking at two to four years in prison.

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Hoo-boy! Institutionalized misconduct and corruption in Florida and New Jersey, more jail guards in trouble, a pill-peddling cop, and a former Colorado sheriff goes down for trading meth for sex. Let's get to it:

In Clearwater, Florida, defense attorneys have called for a US Justice Department investigation of the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office Narcotics Unit, which is embroiled in an ever widening scandal over its practices. The attorneys say the unit routinely violated the civil rights of people it investigated and engaged in unlawful searches and seizures. The scandal began when a videotape emerged of narcotics detectives hopping over a wall to investigate a suspected marijuana grow without a warrant and then trying to destroy the evidence by taping over it. Defense attorneys also accuse unit members of covering up drug trafficking by the daughter of one of its members, physically abusing a man, stealing public funds, and committing perjury when questioned about their potentially illegal activities. New Sheriff Bob Gualtieri has opened at least six internal investigations into the dope squad.

In Camden, New Jersey, the city has paid out at least $340,000 in damages to nearly a dozen low-level accused drug dealers and users whose convictions were overturned because of potentially tainted evidence gathered by corrupt city police. And that's just so far. Another 75 lawsuits alleging abuses have been filed in state Superior Court and nearly as many in federal court. They claim they were victimized by dirty cops who planted evidence and falsely arrested and charged them. Four former Camden police officers have been convicted of planting evidence, stealing cash and drugs, conducting illegal searches, and fabricating reports that led to a series of arrests and convictions between 2007 and 2009. Each faces about 10 years in jail. In addition to the pay-outs, the Camden County Prosecutor's Office has had to dismiss some 200 cases.

In Jacksonville, Florida, a Jacksonville's Sheriff's Office jail guard was arrested last Wednesday after selling oxycodone tablets to an undercover officer. James Mock III, 28, was on duty and in uniform when he sold 80 30-milligram pills in return for $1,600. Now he's facing first- and third-degree felony charges, including selling a controlled substance within 100 yards of a convenience store and possession of a controlled substance without prescription. He was a probationary employee and has been fired.

In Gloucester, New Jersey, a Gloucester Township police officer was arrested Wednesday on drug charges after an internal investigation. The as yet unnamed officer was on duty when arrested and is charged with possession of a controlled dangerous substance, possession of an imitation controlled dangerous substance, possession of a weapon during a controlled dangerous substance offense, and possession with intent to distribute a controlled dangerous substance.

In New York City, a former city jail guard pleaded guilty last Thursday to having sex with an inmate and smuggling drugs and other contraband into the Rikers Island jail. Clara Espada, 41, pleaded guilty to third-degree receiving a bribe, a Class D felony, and forcible touching, a misdemeanor. She went down after the inmate she had sex with told investigators he helped broker deals for Ecstasy, alcohol, and cigarettes that netted Espada $300 a month. Espada is awaiting sentencing and facing six months in jail under a plea deal.

In Centennial, Colorado, a former Colorado Sheriff of the Year pleaded guilty Tuesday to charges he traded methamphetamine for sex with young male tweakers. Former Arapahoe County Sheriff Patrick Sullivan, 69, served as sheriff from 1984 to 20002 before resigning to become director of security at a metropolitan Denver school district. He resigned that position in 2008. He was arrested in a sting operation last year after a man arrested on meth charges mentioned a connection and held in custody in a jail named after himself. He copped a plea to felony meth possession and misdemeanor solicitation of a prostitute, while prosecutors dropped charges of meth distribution and attempting to influence a public servant. Sullivan will do 30 days in jail in addition to eight days he served when arrested.

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

An ugly strip search scandal brews in Milwaukee, a bogus pot bust get cops in hot water in Pittsburgh, plus a crooked border deputy, a crooked Puerto Rico cop, and a crooked prison guard. Let's get to it:

In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, eight Milwaukee police officers are under investigation for conducting unlawful strip searches on people they suspected were carrying drugs. Complaints are piling up that officers in District 5 on the city's north side sexually assaulted people and violated their civil rights while conducting rectal searches for drugs on the street. Those under suspicion include Sgt. Jason Mucha, who has been investigated in the past after suspects accused him of beating them and planting drugs on them, and Officer Michael Gasser. Under state law, it is illegal for police to perform a cavity search involving someone's genitals. Such a search must be done by licensed medical personnel once a suspect has been arrested.

In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, two Pittsburgh police officers are the targets of a lawsuit filed last Monday by a Hampton man who alleges they falsely arrested him for buying marijuana at a car wash. Officers Kenneth Simon and Anthony Scarpine arrested Timothy Joyce, 23, after Simon claimed he saw Joyce buy weed from a man at the car wash. That led to Joyce being jailed for several days on a charge he violated probation on a misdemeanor drug possession charge. Video surveillance at the car wash showed that Joyce did not interact with the man the officer claimed sold him the marijuana, and the charges were dropped. Joyce is suing the city and the two police officers for unlawful arrest, unlawful search and seizure, and malicious prosecution.

In McAllen, Texas, a former Hidalgo County sheriff's deputy was sentenced last Monday to 11 years in federal prison for his role in a 2009 drug conspiracy. Heriberto Diaz and another deputy raided a house filled with 354 pounds of marijuana, but instead of arresting the occupants, they arranged to have one of their informants steal it. The plot unraveled when a Mission police officer came upon the informant as he was removing the marijuana from the property. Diaz was convicted of conspiracy to distribute marijuana and lying on an official report.

In San Juan, Puerto Rico, a former San Juan Municipal Police officer was convicted last Wednesday for his role in providing security for drug transactions. Arcadio Hernandez-Soto, 35, was convicted in San Juan of three counts of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine, four counts of attempting to possess with the intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine, and four counts of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug transaction. He provided security for what he believed were illegal cocaine deals, but which in fact were part of an undercover FBI operation. In return for the security he provided, Amaro-Santiago received a cash payment of between $2,000 and $3,000 for each transaction. He faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 90 years in prison and a maximum penalty of life in prison.

In Bloomfield, New Jersey, a Bloomfield prison guard was sentenced last Friday to five years in state prison for his role in a scheme to smuggle drugs, cell phones, and other contraband into the Essex County Correctional Facility. Corrections officer Joseph Mastriani, 32, was the mastermind of the ring and made $1,000 a week in the operation. He had pleaded guilty in November to one count of second-degree official misconduct. Under the terms of the plea agreement, he is required to serve five years in prison before being eligible for parole.

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Here's a hint for deputies: Don't go to buy heroin in uniform while the joint is under surveillance in a drug investigation. There are more lessons to be learned this week, too. Let's get to it:

In Maurice River, New Jersey, a state prison guard was arrested last Friday for allegedly smuggling drugs into Bayside State Prison. Guard Nazair Bey, 36, is charged with drug possession, distribution, conspiracy to distribute and official misconduct. Official misconduct is a second-degree offense, while the drug-related charges are third-degree offenses. The 10-year veteran was earning $74,940 a year as a senior corrections officer. He is now on unpaid leave.

In Carlsbad, California, a Carlsbad police officer pleaded not guilty last Friday to charges he stole heroin from the police evidence room. Michael Koch, 44, had been arrested two months ago after "numerous" police employees witnessed the alleged thefts. He is charged with felony burglary and possession of heroin. The 18-year veteran faces up to three years, eight months in prison, if convicted.

In Baltimore, a Baltimore police officer pleaded guilty last Friday after being accused of running a drug ring while on duty, in uniform, and sometimes out of his police station parking lot. Officer Daniel Redd copped to federal charges of conspiracy to distribute heroin and carrying a firearm while drug trafficking. He admitted dealing heroin out of the parking lot and from local restaurants. In return for the plea, five other charges were dropped. A recommended 20-year federal prison sentence was part of the plea deal.

In Little Rock, Arkansas, a former Phillips County sheriff's deputy pleaded guilty last Friday to charges he accepted bribes to look the other way as traffickers shipped drugs through the state. Winston Dean Jackson was the fourth of five Arkansas law enforcement officers arrested as part of the federal "Operation Delta Blues," an enforcement effort centered on Helena-West Helena, Mississippi, which resulted in the arrests of 71 people. Jackson admitted warning a drug trafficker that a state trooper was coming with an arrest warrant, taking cash for his efforts while in his patrol car, and making another drug arrest warrant vanish. He copped a plea to one count of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute cocaine, and is looking at six to seven years in federal prison when sentenced. That date hasn't been set yet.

In St. Louis, a former St. Louis sheriff's deputy was sentenced last Wednesday to two years and four month in federal prison after he got caught buying heroin while armed and in uniform. Jason Stewart, a three-year veteran of the force, had been strung out on heroin for longer than that, and went down when he was spotted scoring during an unrelated drug investigation. He was also chauffeuring a drug dealer around town in a sheriff's office vehicle. He pleaded guilty to being a drug addict in possession of a firearm. He also faces state drug possession charges.

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

A pretty quiet week this week, but there is a juicy scandal brewing in Florida. Let's get to it:

In New York City, an NYPD officer was convicted last Thursday of lying under oath during an application for a search warrant. Officer Michael Carsey, 31, unlawfully stopped and detained a Harlem man, then falsely testified during the search warrant application and at a later hearing that the man admitted having guns and drugs in his apartment. Carsey's partner, Sgt. William Eiseman, 39, had pleaded guilty in June to perjury for lying under oath, conducting unlawful searches and seizures in Northern Manhattan, and directing subordinates to falsify paperwork in order to make the arrests appears to be legitimate. Carsey had been acquitted on those charges last fall, but was convicted of perjury and false filing Thursday. He was sentenced to three months in jail and five years probation.

In Clearwater, Florida, the scandal in the Pinellas County Sheriff's narcotics unit continues to grow. Narcotics officers are already being investigated for making warrantless searches and surveilling a local hydroponics store, and now three detectives are accused of improperly and routinely accessing Progress Energy billing records for years as they searched for marijuana grows. Sheriff Bob Gualtieri has now launched six new internal affairs investigations, in addition to nine he revealed last week. One narcotics supervisor has been reassigned, while two of the detectives have been demoted and assigned to patrol division. The other detective has already left the unit.

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