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This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Michigan gives us two spectacularly egregious cases of corrupt policing, one of which included prosecutors and a judge, and we throw in the obligatory greedy jail guards. Let's get to it:

Prohibition's filthy lucre is hard for some to resist. (Image via Wikimedia)
In Detroit, an Inkster narcotics officer pleaded guilty Monday in a case in which police, prosecutors, and the judge agreed to allow perjured testimony to be used in a bid to convict a cocaine trafficking defendant. Veteran officer Scott Rechtzigel admitted to lying under oath and agreed to testify if called in the pending trials of his partner and the prosecutor in the case, Karen Plants. Plants, the former chief of the prosecutor's drug unit, faces a life sentence as she goes on trial this week on conspiracy and official misconduct charges, and the now retired judge, Mary Waterstone, faces a single count of official misconduct and up to five years. They all conspired to cover up the fact that a witness in the case was a secret police informant who stood to earn $100,000 for his work. Rechtzigel, a sergeant who ran Inkster's Special Investigative Unit, had faced life in prison, but ended up pleading guilty to a single count of willful neglect of duty, and will not do a day of prison time.

In Lansing, Michigan, two Michigan State Police lieutenants were arrested February 23 on a slew of corruption charges accusing them of running a criminal enterprise from the Monroe state police narcotics investigation office. Lts. Luke Davis, 48, and Emmanuel Riopelle, 42, are accused of systematically embezzling money and property seized from suspects between March 2006 and December 2008. In a search of Davis's home that month, police found drugs and stolen property, including Vicodin, Oxycontin, steroids, a wall covered with a large quantity of men's and women's jewelry, 30 designer purses, 22 cell phones, computers, televisions, motorcycles, and a golf cart, among other items. The scheme blew apart after a complaint from a suspect that Davis stole personal property from his home. The following investigation showed that the pair developed a slick scheme to embezzle property through fraudulent auction sales. The items would later be resold. Davis faces 24 counts including 13 counts of embezzlement, five counts of misconduct in office, three counts of possession of a controlled substance, one count of conducting a criminal enterprise, one count of forgery, and one count of use tax violation. Riopelle faces 11 counts, including four counts of misconduct in office, three counts of forgery, three counts of embezzlement, and one count of conducting a criminal enterprise. Both face well over a hundred years in prison.

In New Iberia, Louisiana, an Iberia Parish Sheriff's deputy was arrested Monday on charges he intended to smuggle marijuana into the Iberia Parish Jail. Deputy Richard Coons, 23, was busted on a tip and caught with marijuana by narcotics agents. He is charged with malfeasance in office and possession of Schedule I narcotics with the intent to distribute. He was booked into his place of work and at last report was still there.

In Spartanburg, South Carolina, a Spartanburg County Detention Center guard was arrested and fired February 24 for smuggling contraband drugs into the jail. Officer Thomas Brown, 42, went down after narcotics officers got a tip that he was supplying pills to inmates. He is charged with possession of prescription drugs without a prescription, carrying contraband into the jail, and possession of marijuana.

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

A California dope squad leader goes bad, a Rhode Island narc goes to prison, and, of course, there are a couple of jail guards in trouble. Let's get to it:

Oh, temptation! (Image via Wikimedia)
In Martinez, California, the former commander of the Central Contra Costa Narcotics Enforcement Team was arraigned last Friday on charges he stole seized drugs and resold them on the black market. Norman Wielsch, 49, faces 28 felony counts around the alleged theft and sale of marijuana, steroids, prescription pills, methamphetamine, and meth precursor chemicals. Prosecutors said in court that Wielsch had confessed to stealing and dealing drugs with the help of a friend who was a private investigator. The friend has also been arrested. Prosecutors said that since November, the pair had made at least six drug sales and netted more than $13,000. The drug task force Wielsch ran until last week has been put on hiatus while officials review its drug-handling practices. Wielsch's family said he was under financial stress. His bail was reduced from $1 million to $400,000 after he handed in his passport.

In Providence, Rhode Island, a former Providence narcotics detective was sentenced February 17 to eight years in prison in a drug scandal that has already netted two other officers. Joseph Colanduono, who had been assigned to a DEA task force, had pleaded guilty in December to two counts of conspiracy to deliver drugs, larceny over $500, and harboring a criminal. He admitted he helped arrange cocaine deals between one of his informants and another police officer.

In Corpus Christi, Texas, a former Nueces County jail guard was sentenced last Friday to six years in prison for attempting to smuggle drugs into the jail. Jamyrria Reed, 29, went down after an inmate tipped off officials that Reed was offering to supply drugs to prisoners. She pleaded guilty to bribery and possession of cocaine. She could have faced up to 99 years behind bars, but will probably be out in about one year.

In Lancaster, Pennsylvania, a Lancaster County prison guard was arrested February 17 for selling drugs. Guard Douglas Brosey, 42, went down after selling $750 worth of cocaine to a snitch. He is charged with possession and delivery of a controlled substance. Oh, and he's been fired, too. There is no word on bail.

Crooked CoCo County Drug Czar Walks Out of Lockup on Discounted Bail

Location: 
CA
United States
The corruption of police due to drug prohibition has been well-documented. Norman Wielsch, the former commander of the Contra Costa County Narcotics Enforcement Team who was arrested last week on suspicion of trafficking drugs his team had confiscated, saw his $1 million bail reduced to an easy $400,000.
Publication/Source: 
SFist (NY)
URL: 
http://sfist.com/2011/02/21/crooked_coco_country_drug_czar_walk.php

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Cops can't find their missing dope in Georgia and Massachusetts, another jail guard goes down, a North Carolina narc pays for getting greedy, and so does a South Carolina magistrate. Let's get to it:

In Boston, a Boston Police investigation into hundreds of bags of missing drug evidence has hit a dead end. Police discovered in 2008 that the drugs had been stolen from a department warehouse in Hyde Park, but have failed to turn up any leads or suspects. Drugs seized as evidence in 256 cases, including heroin, cocaine, marijuana, and lots of prescription opiates, are all missing. An audit criticized lax security and a highly disorganized record-keeping system at the warehouse. Ten officers working at the warehouse were transferred after the audit, but because of lack of surveillance at the warehouse and the police code of silence, investigators have been unable to charge any of them. Reforms have been instituted, authorities said.

In Lawrenceville, Georgia, the Gwinnett County Police Department still can't find two kilos of cocaine missing from an evidence safe. Three kilos went missing last year, and only one could be accounted for after the Georgia Bureau of Investigation looked into the case. Also missing are several pounds of pot, various pills, and even fake drugs used in investigations. Procedures were so lax that investigators were unable to arrest anyone and no member of the department faces discipline. The department announced Monday it had undertaken reforms.

In Brentwood, New Hampshire, a Rockingham County jail guard was indicted last Friday on charges he planned to smuggle Oxycontin into the jail for a prisoner. Guard Sunni George, 33, faces one count each of attempted possession of a controlled drug with intent to sell, attempted delivery of prohibited articles, and conspiracy to deliver prohibited articles. The indictment alleges that late last month, George bought Oxycontin in a shopping center parking lot with the intent of providing it to an unnamed prisoner.

In Durham, North Carolina, a former sheriff's narcotics supervisor pleaded guilty February 10 to 25 counts of embezzling money from the Durham County Sheriff's Office. Derek O'Mary was in charge of disbursing money for drug buys and other criminal investigations, but admitted to illegally disbursing $97,976 to himself. O'Mary went down after his own narcs narced him out for mismanaging money. He's looking at 4 1/2 years in prison after sentencing later this year.

In Spartanburg, South Carolina, a former Spartanburg County magistrate pleaded guilty February 9 in a case in which the former clerk of court stole drugs from the county courthouse evidence locker. Former magistrate John Poole Jr. pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a quantity of a substance containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine and cocaine. He, the former clerk of court, and a third party conspired to sell the stolen drugs to a Florida man. Poole netted $715 from an initial drug sale before the scheme was uncovered. He's now looking at up to 20 years in prison.

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

A Wisconsin narc crosses the line, and cops in Houston and Philadelphia pay for getting too greedy. Let's get to it:

Denise Markham
In Madison, Wisconsin, a Madison Police officer has resigned in a negotiated settlement as she was being investigated for alleged misconduct. Denise Markham, a 22-year veteran of the department, was assigned to the Dane County Narcotics and Gang Task Force, but had been on paid leave since June 2009, when an investigation into her activities commenced. The investigators found no evidence of illegal conduct, but found that she violated departmental policies by filing inaccurate reports, conducting improper searches, conducting improper seizures of private property, improperly handling seized drugs, and engaging in "overbearing, oppressive or tyrannical conduct." In other words, illegal conduct.

In Philadelphia, two former Philadelphia police officers pleaded guilty Monday to plotting to rip-off a suspected heroin dealer. Robert Snyder and James Venziale plotted with another former officer, Mark Williams, to stage a traffic stop as a pretext for stealing heroin from a supplier. Williams has pleaded not guilty. Venziale cooperated with prosecutors and faces a five year mandatory minimum sentence, while Snyder, who did not cooperate with prosecutors, faces a mandatory minimum 10 years on gun and drug charges. Sentencing is in May.

In Houston, a former Harris County Sheriff's deputy pleaded guilty Monday to stopping drug dealers and ripping-off their loads. Richard Bryan Nutt Jr., 43, pleaded to one federal count of extortion after getting caught in a Houston police sting operation. While in uniform, Nutt stopped a vehicle supposedly carrying drugs, and one of his co-conspirators entered the vehicle and retrieved a package containing two pounds of fake cocaine. The sting was set up after Houston police received information that someone was ripping off drug couriers. Nutt is free on bond pending sentencing in June. He's looking at up to 20 years in federal prison.

ACLU Witnesses Brutal Beating of Los Angeles County Jail Inmate Detained on a Non-Violent Marijuana Charge (Press Release)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 8, 2011

CONTACT: ACLU [1] Will Matthews, ACLU National at (212) 549-2582 or 2666; media@aclu.org [2] Sandra Hernandez, ACLU of Southern California at (213) 977-5252; shernandez@aclu-sc.org

ACLU Witnesses Brutal Beating Of Los Angeles County Jail Inmate By Sheriff’s Deputies

Attack Underscores Need For Systemic Reform And Decrease In Jail’s Population

LOS ANGELES - February 8 - The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Southern California (ACLU/SC) today condemned a recent brutal beating by two Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies of a detainee at the Twin Towers Correctional Facility, part of the county jail system.

The violent attack January 24 on James Parker, detained on a non-violent marijuana charge, was witnessed by ACLU/SC’s Esther Lim, who is assigned to monitor all county jails.

“We believe Mr. Parker’s beating is not an isolated incident,” said Hector Villagra, incoming Executive Director of the ACLU/SC. “Rather, it highlights the rampant violence that continues to plague the county’s jails, and demands court intervention to protect detainees from brutal attacks and retaliation. That the ACLU/SC monitor witnessed a brutal attack in plain sight is alarming and can only lead us to conclude detainees are subject to even greater cruelty when no one is looking.”

The beating was made public Monday in a sworn statement submitted in federal court by Lim, who watched through a glass window as deputies repeatedly punched, kneed and tasered Parker while he was lying motionless on the floor.

“Mr. Parker looked like he was a mannequin that was being used as a punching bag,” Lim says in her statement. “I thought he was knocked out, or perhaps even dead.”

Lim hit the glass divider hoping to get the deputies’ attention and stop the attack, but the officers continued to punch and taser Parker.

“Mr. Parker was not fighting with the deputies,” Lim says in her statement, adding he “was not trying to kick, hit or otherwise fight with the deputies.”

Yet deputies continued to order him to “stop resisting” and “stop fighting,” while simultaneously punching and kneeing his limp body repeatedly and tasering him multiple times.

The deputies then wrote in a jail log that Parker had been fighting and resisting, in complete contradiction to what the ACLU witnessed.

“This kind of brutal beating is unacceptable,” said Peter Eliasberg, ACLU/SC managing attorney. “We are also very concerned that shortly after the beating the sheriff’s department issued a log report contradicting what witnesses, including our monitor, saw. The report claims Parker was resisting and fighting with deputies. That is blatantly false.”

Parker now faces charges for allegedly assaulting the very deputies who beat him.

Lim’s statement, along with that of another witness to the beating, was filed Monday in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, to bolster a motion the ACLU filed in November seeking a federal court order prohibiting jail deputies from retaliating against prisoners through violence or threats.

The ACLU first sued Los Angeles County and its sheriff on behalf of all detainees in the county’s jail system in 1975, charging the conditions of their confinement violated the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. Many remedial orders have been issued over the years in the case, Rutherford v. Block. But the systemic problems plaguing the system have recently become so acute the ACLU in December asked U.S. District Court Judge Dean D. Pregerson to order a new trial in the case based on “an escalating crisis of deputy violence, abuse and inmate suicides” at Men’s Central Jail, another of the system’s facilities. The ACLU contends the problems plaguing the jail system can only be fixed by finding alternatives to incarceration like drug treatment and community-based programs for the low-level, non-violent offenders and detainees with serious mental illnesses that comprise the vast majority of the system’s population, and seeks to prove the jail’s population can be safely, rapidly and radically reduced with existing resources and at great savings to county taxpayers.

A report released by the ACLU in September painted a stark picture of unacceptable levels of violence in the jails, including reports of deputies beating handcuffed detainees, injuring some so badly that they ended up in intensive care. The report also showed retaliation against inmates to be an acute problem. Several prisoners have been severely punished for meeting with representatives of the ACLU, which is the court-appointed monitor of conditions inside L.A.'s county jails.

“The reign of terror we’re uncovering in the Los Angeles County jails is unmatched by any of the hyper-violent prisons and jails across the country we have investigated,” said Margaret Winter, Associate Director of the ACLU National Prison Project. “The brutality there is so blatant and routine that the deputies carried out a vicious beating in full view of a court-appointed monitor. The court needs to take immediate action to ensure the protection of prisoners.”

A copy of the ACLU’s sworn statement, as well as that of the beating’s other witness, is available online at:

http://www.aclu.org/prisoners-rights/declarations-esther-lim-and-christopher-brown-regarding-january-24-2011-beating-twi[4]

###

Location: 
Los Angeles, CA
United States

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

No cops got arrested this week for drug prohibition-related corruption, but a few got convicted, and one got sentenced. Let's get to it:

In Jacksonville, Florida, a Jacksonville Sheriff's officer was convicted Friday of filing a false police report about a burglary to illegally enter a suspected drug house without a search warrant. Officer Marc Garza, a gung-ho narcotics officer, was convicted of official misconduct and falsifying an official document. He faces up to six years in prison. He also faces another criminal trial, this one for beating a handcuffed drug defendant.

In Kerrville, Texas, a former Texas state trooper pleaded guilty Monday to peddling steroids. Jeff Jerman copped to three counts of delivery of a controlled substance after admitting he sold $800 worth of steroids to an undercover police officer in 2009. He's looking at up to two years in state jail and a $10,000 fine when sentenced March 11.

In New York City, an NYPD detective was convicted Monday of conspiracy for paying off snitches with drugs. Det. Sean Johnstone, 37, was part of a Brooklyn dope squad rife with corruption, with the narcs taking cash, drugs, and sex from criminals and drug users. Despite being caught on tape bragging about seizing 28 bags of cocaine but only turning in 17, he was acquitted of that and 33 other charges. He faces up to four years in prison.

In Newark, New Jersey, a former US immigration officer agent was sentenced Tuesday to 10 years in federal prison for plotting to rob a purported drug dealer. Valentino Johnson, 27, went down after he and two others tried to steal what they thought was cocaine from a man who turned out to be a snitch. He pleaded guilty in June to one count of conspiracy to possess and distribute cocaine.

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

An Illinois sheriff goes down hard, a Massachusetts police chief parties too hard, a Massachusetts cop gets nailed for helping out his local pot dealer, and a Florida motorcycle cop gets caught stealing a bud in his helmet. Let's get to it:

Raymond Martin -- a sheriff heads for the Big House
In Benton, Illinois, the former Gallatin County sheriff was sentenced to life in prison January 19 for trafficking marijuana on the job and conspiring to have potential witnesses killed. Former sheriff Raymond Martin had been jailed since May 2009, when federal agents arrested him on marijuana dealing charges. He went down after the man he was selling pot to decided he wanted out, and Martin said he could make him disappear. The dealer instead went to the DEA and became a cooperating witness. While in jail awaiting trial, he conspired with his wife and son to kill witnesses set to testify against him. He was convicted on 15 counts, getting two life terms on weapons charges and numerous 10- and 15-year concurrent sentences.

In Salisbury, Massachusetts, the former police chief is accused of exchanging drugs and money for sex with known criminals -- and much more! -- in a 31-page report compiled after town officials hired an outside investigator. Former Chief David L'Esperance, who resigned the day he was set to be interviewed during the investigation, is also accused of falsifying police records, improperly interfering in arrests, and numerous other violations. The report is being forwarded to other law enforcement agencies, so criminal charges could be soon forthcoming. Investigators focused on allegations that L'Esperance gave money and drugs to three women in their twenties, at least two of whom had criminal records or drug addictions, in return for sexual favors. He is also accused of taking "trophies" from arrest scenes, including a bag of cash seized during a drug raid.

In Worcester, Massachusetts, a Worcester police officer was convicted January 19 on drug charges for tipping off a marijuana dealer that police were near his workplace. Officer Carlos Burgos was found guilty on one federal count of conspiracy to distribute marijuana. Prosecutors said that Burgos had a one-minute telephone conversation with the dealer in January 2009 in which he warned him that undercover officers were near the location where he worked. No sentencing date was announced.

In Winter Haven, Florida, a Winter Haven police officer resigned January 20 after being busted stealing a bud of marijuana during a drug arrest. Ricardo Flores, 36, a motorcycle officer was fingered by fellow officers for hiding a bud in his motorcycle helmet before heading home as his shift ended. He is charged with felony burglary -- for taking the bud from a vehicle -- as well as petty theft and possession of less than 20 grams of pot.

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

A small-town jail guard, a big city cop, and a US Border Patrol agent all go down this week. Let's get to it:

If we can't keep drugs out of the prisons, how can we keep them out of the country?
In Imperial Beach, California, a US Border Patrol agent was arrested January 10 after a SWAT raid on his home revealed he was hiding illegal immigrants -- among them his father -- and evidence of drug dealing. Agent Gerardo Manzano Jr., 26, is currently charged with harboring illegal immigrants, but will probably face additional charges related to 61 grams of methamphetamine and "packaging material indicating a drug operation" in his home.

In Ocala, Florida, a Marion County corrections officer was arrested January 12 for smuggling marijuana, submarine sandwiches, and a cell phone into the county jail. Guard Joseph Jones went down after the sheriff's office grew suspicious and enlisted the help of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. He is charged with possession of marijuana and two counts of introducing contraband into a prison. Jones has been suspended without pay, and the sheriff's office has opened an internal investigation.

In Providence, Rhode Island, a Providence police officer pleaded guilty Friday to charges he was part of a police cocaine trafficking ring and was sentenced to three years in prison. Officer Robert Hamlin was the last of four officers indicted in June to have his case resolved. Two others pleaded guilty, and prosecutors dropped charges against the fourth.  Hamlin copped to three counts of conspiracy to distribute drugs. Since he has been behind bars since March, when he was originally arrested, and will get credit for time served, he should be out on parole by this coming March after completing a third of his sentence.

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

A campus cop, an auxiliary cop, and a sheriff's deputy all go down. Let's get to it:

evidence room of opportunity
In Somerset, Ohio, a Somerset auxiliary police officer was indicted Monday for allegedly trafficking "bulk" amounts of oxycodone to southeastern Ohio. Joseph Michael Daley, 33, is accused of traveling to Florida and bringing the drugs back to Ohio for resale. He went down in a sting in December. He is charged with aggravated drug trafficking and is out on bond pending trial.

In Tallahassee, Florida, a former Florida A&M University (FAMU) police officer pleaded guilty Monday to buying and reselling marijuana and lying to the feds about it. Former FAMU patrol officer Byron Whitaker, 32, acknowledged buying pot from a local dealer for sale in Tallahassee and even negotiating a purchase while he was on duty in his patrol car. During a DEA interview last August, Whitaker falsely told agents he had not bought drugs from the supplier. He pleaded guilty to federal charges of conspiracy to distribute marijuana and making false statements to a federal agent. He faces up to five years in prison on each count.

In Madison, Wisconsin, a former Marquette County deputy sheriff pleaded guilty January 6 to stealing drugs from a locked evidence room. Daniel Card was busted for taking 59 oxycodone tablets from the evidence room in May 2007. He had already been found guilty of drug possession following a jury trial in 2009. He pleaded guilty to theft this time around. Sentencing is set for March 23.

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