Police Corruption

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Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Sheriffs gone wild, narcs gone greedy, a jail guard gone horny, and a couple of jail guards gone dumb. Let's get to it:

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seized cash
In Murphysville, Illinois, a county sheriff already jailed on marijuana sales charged was arrested again, this time on solicitation of murder charges. Gallatin County Sheriff Raymond Martin, his wife, and his 20-year-old son were all arrested and are being held on one million dollar bonds. Officials have not said if the murder for hire plot is related to the marijuana charges. The trio will have preliminary hearings on the murder conspiracy charges on January 26.

In Mineola, New York, a Long Island corrections officer was arrested December 30 for extorting sexual favors from female inmates. Mark Barber is accused of using his position as grievance officer for the Nassau County Correctional Center to engage in various sexual activities for females. Authorities said Barber targeted inmates with histories of drug abuse, prostitution, or mental health issues. He faces various counts of rape, sexual abuse, and forcible touching and could get up to 16 years in prison if convicted.

In Eufala, Alabama, the Eufala Police narcotics division commander was arrested December 29 for allegedly stealing money that had been seized and was awaiting an asset forfeiture hearing. Lt. Stephen Hanners went down after $20,000 went missing and investigators soon zeroed in on him. He is charged with first degree theft of property. Hanners resigned upon his arrest.

In Lexington, South Carolina, a Lexington County jail guard was arrested December 31 for bringing marijuana and cigarettes to a prisoner. Guard Phillip Fields was accused of conspiring with a woman who was also arrested. The woman left the contraband in Fields' car while he was at work, then he would retrieve the goodies during his shift and smuggle them into the jail. He got busted bringing the contraband in. Fields is charged with two counts furnishing contraband to a prisoner and furnishing drugs to a prisoner, two counts of misconduct in office, and one count of marijuana possession.

In New York City, a Rikers Island jail guard was arrested last Friday as she tried to smuggle drugs, alcohol, and tobacco into the prison. Guard Teneya Griffith, 25, went down after fellow corrections officers went to authorities about their suspicions she was compromised. She got caught with two ounces of weed, three water bottles filled with vodka, and tobacco and cigarettes. According to prosecutors, Griffith was to earn $800 to $900 for her efforts. She is charged with first degree felony promoting prison contraband, misdemeanor promoting prison contraband, marijuana possession, and official misconduct. She faces up to seven years for the felony.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

It's a Texas trifecta for Christmas, plus an Alabama jail guard. Let's get to it:

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If we can't keep drugs out of the prisons, how can we keep them out of the country?
In San Antonio, the FBI is investigating the Bexar County Sheriff's Department's narcotics unit over allegations that some deputies unlawfully took evidence or stole money and property from people they detained or arrested. The probe has been going on for two years and has expanded from allegations of civil rights violations into investigating deputies who appear to be living beyond their means. Among accusations aimed at some members of the dope squad are that they used excessive force and threats and that they shook people down at apartment complexes where they worked private security jobs. The investigation began when a childhood friend of one of the deputies was arrested in Arkansas with 15 pounds of cocaine, and the deputy intervened, filing a report claiming the man was his informant. He wasn't.

In Kerrville, Texas, the former 198th District DA was indicted December 17 for misusing asset forfeiture funds. Former DA Ron Sutton is charged with two counts of misapplication of fiduciary property. The Sutton indictment comes after District Judge Karl Prohl resigned in September after a defense attorney complained to the Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct that Prohl was being biased in the DA's favor because he was benefitting from the DA's largesse with seized funds. Prohl had received $14,500 in checks from Sutton for training, equipment, and to attend a conference, as well as part of another $21,000 check for conferences in Hawaii, and a $6,000 check to cover per diem expenses during those same conferences. As presiding judge, Prohl approved all expenditures from the asset forfeiture fund. Prohl agreed to resign his judgeship "in lieu of disciplinary action" by the commission.

In Lubbock, Texas, a former chief deputy sheriff pleaded guilty December 20 for his role in a methamphetamine trafficking ring. Former Hockley County chief deputy Gordon Bohannon, 53, copped to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and now faces up to 10 years in federal prison. He was one of 28 people named in a July indictment alleging a motorcycle gang was running cash to Modesto, California, and returning to West Texas with the speed. Also indicted was another Hockley County deputy, Jose Jesus Quintanilla, who pleaded guilty last month to misprision of a felony. Both deputies provided information to the bikers that hindered efforts to shut down the ring.

In Guntersville, Alabama, a Marshall County jail guard was arrested Wednesday on drug charges. Guard Jeremy Wade Sanders, 32, was being held at his place of employment on charges of marijuana possession, attempt to promote prison contraband, and attempt to commit controlled substance crime.

Afghanistan: US Anti-Drug Strategy Lacking, State Department Report Finds

The US counternarcotics mission in Afghanistan, a key element in Western efforts to defeat the Taliban, is short on long-term strategy, clear objectives, and a plan to hand over responsibility to Afghan authorities, the State Department said in a report released last Wednesday. The report was written by the State Department's Office of the Inspector General.

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opium poppies
The department's Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (known colloquially as "drugs and thugs") is responsible for shaping and administering counternarcotics policy in Afghanistan, but it is not doing its job very well, the report said. "The department has not clarified an end state for counternarcotics efforts, engaged in long-term planning or established performance measures," it noted.

With the Taliban making hundreds of millions of dollars a year off the Afghan opium and heroin trade, a smart, effective counternarcotics strategy is critical to US plans to defeat the Taliban by sending in an additional 30,000 troops. There are already 68,000 US and NATO troops in the country, where they have suffered their worst losses so far this year. The number of US military dead in Afghanistan this year sits at 310, exactly double the number killed last year. Overall US and NATO fatalities topped 500 this year, up from 300 last year.

While an effective anti-drug policy may be critical to US plans, it may also be impossible to achieve. As analysts consulted by the Chronicle five years ago -- when opium production was just beginning to reemerge as a problem area -- noted, opium is deeply implicated in the Afghan economy, with more than a million families dependent on it for a living.

"In this case, even if you support drug prohibition in general, the war on drugs is not something we can pursue if we want a rational, effective policy in Afghanistan," said Ted Galen Carpenter, an international affairs analyst for the Cato Institute. "It will undermine everything else we're trying to achieve. The international supply side drug war is complete folly no matter where it is applied, but even if you don't accept that analysis, one ought to be aware that our top priority needs to be going after radical Islamic terrorists, not Afghan farmers," he said.

But heeding the views of the bureau's hard-line drug warriors, the report said that poppy eradication was "essential" to the success of the strategy. But Richard Holbrook, Obama's emissary to the region, abruptly ended the US role in eradication earlier this year, arguing that it served only to alienate poor poppy farmers and drive them into the arms of the Taliban. Instead, Western forces have concentrated on capturing or killing traffickers linked to the Taliban.

Even so, the report found, the bureau had "no clear strategy for transitioning and exiting from counternarcotics programs in Afghanistan." It added that while Afghan contractors working on poppy eradication were meeting agreed-upon goals, vague performance measures in their contracts made it difficult to tell how effective they were.

The report did cut the bureau some slack, noting that it faced tough challenges in Afghanistan, including "a weak justice system, corruption and the lack of political will" in the Afghan government. It also acknowledged the powerful economic incentives for poor Afghan farmers to grow opium poppies.

It recommended setting "a defined end state" for US anti-drug programs, in-country monitoring of contractors, and establishing benchmarks for measuring the Afghan takeover of anti-drug programs.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

A quiet week -- perhaps it's the holidays -- yields a Carolina two-fer of corrupt cops. Let's get to it:

In Darlington, North Carolina, a Darlington police officer was arrested Monday on drug trafficking charges. Officer Dominique Robinson is charged with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute. Robinson had been serving as a school resource officer for the police department. At last word, Robinson was in jail awaiting a bond hearing.

In Chesterfield, South Carolina, a Chesterfield County Sheriff's deputy was arrested December 3 on federal drug charges. Deputy Albert Surratt III went down after a joint local-state-federal investigation. He and one other man are charged with conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine. He is also charged with possession of a firearm during a drug crime.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

More problems in the NYPD, "Starsky and Hutch" are being investigated in Camden, and a Florida cop heads to prison for tipping off drug traffickers. Let's get to it:

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In New York City, an NYPD officer from the Bronx was arrested last Friday for robbing a drug dealer of hundreds of thousands of dollars and acting as a courier for a long-time friend's cocaine distribution network. Officer Juan Acosta, 34, allegedly took $15,000 in payment for his courier work as recently as two months ago. Acosta and his buddy had been working together for at least four years. Both are charged with conspiracy to distribute cocaine and face up to life in prison if convicted. Acosta was being held without bail at last report.

In Camden, New Jersey, a pair of hot dog Camden police officers -- Patrolmen Kevin Parry and Jason Stetser -- have been suspended without pay as the FBI investigates allegations that they stole from drug dealers and made false arrests. Some suspects jailed after being arrested by the pair have been released on order of the Camden County Prosecutor's Office, while at least one person already convicted and serving a sentence after being arrested by them accuses them of roughing him up and planting drugs in his residence.

In Lake Wales, Florida, a former Lake Wales police officer was sentenced December 3 to two years in state prison for tipping off a drug operation member about the identity of an undercover narc working for the Polk County Sheriff's Office. Keenan Colson ran license plate numbers and screened names for outstanding warrants, then passed that information on to a "known drug ring leader." One of the license plates belonged to the undercover sheriff's deputy. Colson was arrested in February and pleaded no contest in September to two counts misuse of confidential information, one count disclosure of confidential criminal justice information, and three unlawful uses of a two way communication device.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

It's an odd mix this week: A cop with a gambling jones doing petty bribery, a pair of narcs misbehaving, and a Customs officer and a small town cop heading for prison are just the half of it. Let's get to it:

In Bridgeton, New Jersey, a state prison guard was arrested November 25 for allegedly smuggling marijuana into the South Woods State Prison, where he worked. Aikeem Williams, 24, is charged with a second-degree count of official misconduct, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and possession of drug paraphernalia. Williams went down when he was searched upon reporting to work and coworkers found 4.2 ounces of marijuana divided into 16 individually wrapped baggies. He faces between 10 and 20 years in prison if convicted and is sitting in jail on a $250,000 bond.

In Charlotte, North Carolina, a Catawba County sheriff's deputy was charged Tuesday with conspiring to distribute cocaine. Brandon Lee Evans, 27, was a part-time courthouse bailiff from October 2008 until Monday, when he was interrogated and then arrested. According to the federal complaint, Evans accompanied another man on drug runs where they cooked ounces of cocaine into crack and he sold cocaine to some of a third man's drug clients, sometimes in uniform. He is charged with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute at least five kilograms of cocaine. Evans went down after one his partners was raided and arrested in September. He gets a bail hearing today.

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US Customs border crossing sign (courtesy portland.indymedia.org)
In Cape Girardeau, Missouri, a former Cape Girardeau police officer was charged Monday with official misconduct and filing a false report for falsely reporting one of her checks stolen and for passing on information about a third party to a wanted drug offender. Michelle Gary, who resigned from the force three weeks ago under a cloud of suspicion, allegedly took $100 to help a wanted drug fugitive see whether there was an active warrant on the third party. Under interrogation, Gary claimed she only got $40, and it was intended for gambling, not payment for sensitive information. The other count involved an $800 check she wrote to pay off gambling debts. When it bounced, she falsely reported that the person who cashed the check had stolen it. Both charges are misdemeanors.

In Tampa, a former high-ranking Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent has agreed to plead guilty to charges he trafficked in cocaine and supplied drug traffickers with law enforcement information. Richard Padilla Cramer, once head of the Nogales, Arizona, ICE office, was arrested in Tucson in September. A federal criminal complaint alleged that he aided a Mexican drug trafficking organization move cocaine through the US. He was also accused of investing $25,000 with a cartel in a 300-kilogram shipment of cocaine from Panama to Spain that was seized by police. Cramer eventually quit his job to work directly for the cartel, for whom he supplied information on the workings of US law enforcement.

In Newark, New York, two Wayne County Sheriff's Department narcs are facing charges for forcing their way into a private residence. Sgts. Joe Ayotte and John Hall allegedly drove in an undercover vehicle to a residence to confront a man who had contact with Hall's girlfriend. They allegedly burst through the door without permission, saying they wanted to fight people. The resident called Newark Police, and the sheriff's narcs told the townie cops they were there to discuss an undercover operation. But the resident went to the State Police barracks in Lyon to file a complaint, and now Ayotte and Hall have been suspended. It is expected that they will be charged with second degree criminal trespass and harassment.

In Phoenix, a former US Customs and Border Protection officer and his wife were sentenced last Friday to 37 months in federal prison for arranging to allow vehicles loaded with Ecstasy pass through his inspection lane at the Yuma port of entry. They admitted earning $33,000 in the scheme. Henry Gauani, 41, and his wife, Flora, 46, earlier pleaded guilty to federal Ecstasy distribution charges.

In Weston, Kansas, a former Weston police officer was sentenced Monday to 15 months in state prison for selling prescription drugs in Atchinson. Former Officer Kyle Zumbrunn earlier pleaded guilty to distribution of a controlled substance and illegal use of a telephone. He was arrested in September after he sold 80 pills to a Kansas Bureau of Investigation undercover officer. Prosecutors agreed with defense requests for probation, but Judge Martin Asher wasn't buying. Asher said he could not disregard the fact that Zumbrunn was a police officer when he committed the crime and that he deserved to go to prison.

In Craig, Colorado, a former Craig police officer was sentenced Tuesday to a one-year deferred jail term for stealing $500 in drug buy money from the All Crimes Enforcement (ACET) drug task force. Former Officer Bob Brabo pleaded guilty to one count of misdemeanor theft and was sentenced to serve 48 hours community service and pay $484.50 in fines. Ironically, Brabo was appointed to ACET in March after his predecessor was arrested for giving a department laptop computer to a woman with whom he was having a sexual relationship.

Law Enforcement: Federal Judge Slams NYPD for Widespread Lying in Drug Cases

The federal judge hearing a multi-million dollar lawsuit against the NYPD by two men who claim they were busted on bogus drug charges has blasted the department as plagued by "widespread falsification by arresting officers."

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Judge Weinstein
The comments from Brooklyn Federal Judge Jack Weinstein came in his decision refusing to throw out the lawsuit by Maximo and Jose Colon, who claim that Queens narcs arrested them last year on false cocaine sales charges. A surveillance tape of the bust exonerated the brothers and led to the charges against them being dropped and the indictment of arresting Detectives Henry Tavarez and Stephen Anderson.

"Informal inquiry by [myself] and among the judges of this court, as well as knowledge of cases in other federal and state courts... has revealed anecdotal evidence of repeated, widespread falsification by arresting officers of the New York City Police Department," Weinstein wrote. "There is some evidence of an attitude among officers that is sufficiently widespread to constitute a custom or policy by the city approving illegal conduct."

Weinstein's attack came after he gave Afsaan Saleem, the attorney representing the city, a chance to document steps the department and prosecutors have taken to address false testimony -- often called "testilying" -- and fabrication of criminal charges by NYPD officers. Saleem couldn't come up with enough to satisfy the judge.

The Colon case is only the most recent of a number of scandals that have left the department's credibility tattered. This year alone, hundreds of drug cases have been dismissed because of corruption in the Brooklyn South narc squad, three officers have been arresting for covering up the sodomizing of a pot smoker in a Brooklyn subway station, and a Bronx detective was convicted of perjury.

As New York Civil Liberties Union president Donna Lieberman told the New York Daily News: "The NYPD has a serious credibility issue if federal judges are convinced the department puts officers on the stand who lie."

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

A sticky-fingered North Carolina deputy gets busted, so does a Florida sheriff's evidence tech, and a home-invading, drug dealer-robbing Philly cop gets sent away for a long, long time. Let's get to it:

In Whiteville, North Carolina, a local police officer was arrested Monday on drug trafficking charges. Gregory Campbell, 40, is accused of breaking into Fair Bluff Discount Drugs and stealing prescription opiates. He is charged with burglary, larceny of opium-based prescription medications, three counts of drug trafficking, and possession with intent to distribute the drugs. He was a Tabor City police officer from May until September, when he resigned to join the Fair Bluff Police Department. He was fired from that gig after being arrested Monday.

In St. Augustine, Florida, a St. Johns County Sheriff's Office evidence tech was fired and arrested Wednesday for stealing drugs. Paul Robinson, 38, went down after a departmental supervisor began investigating his paperwork and was told he was taking home pain relievers for his own use. He is charged with grand theft and official misconduct.

In Philadelphia, a former Philadelphia police officer was sentenced Monday to 30 years in federal prison for an attempted home-invasion robbery in Pottstown and the robbery of a major Philadelphia drug dealer. Former officer Malik Snell, 37, was convicted in June of robbery, attempted robbery, conspiracy to commit robbery, and using and carrying a firearm during the commission of a crime.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

One New Jersey prison guard gets indicted and another gets sentenced. There's also another Customs officer lured by lucre, a meth-slinging Indiana cop, and a Colorado cop turned pill provider. Let's get to it:

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If we can't keep drugs out of the prisons, how can we keep them out of the country?
In Trenton, New Jersey, a suspended prison guard was indicted Tuesday for leading a cocaine ring. Eugene Braswell, 30, who had been suspended from his job at Northern State Prison after he was arrested last year for shooting and killing a former inmate, is now charged with leading a narcotics trafficking network, which carries a maximum life sentence. He and five other members of his crew are charged with first degree intent to distribute cocaine, second degree conspiracy and third degree cocaine possession. They allegedly bought large amounts of cocaine in Texas than transported it for sale in New Jersey.

In Trenton, New Jersey, a Southern State Correctional Facility guard was sentenced last Friday to five years in prison for smuggling drugs and a syringe into the prison for an inmate. Guard Roy Solomon, 33, had earlier pleaded guilty to second-degree official misconduct. He admitted that he smuggled cocaine and a syringe into the prison in 2008. The eight-year veteran was suspended without pay in April. His employment status should be changing soon.

In McAllen, Texas, a former US Customs officer pleaded guilty Monday to bribery, cocaine trafficking, and immigrant smuggling. Raul Montano had been arrested in April. Prosecutors said he made tens of thousands of dollars by letting designated vehicles carrying drugs or undocumented immigrants through his inspection lane in Brownsville. Montano told the judge he had been strung out on coke.

In Topeka, Indiana, a Topeka police officer was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of dealing methamphetamine. Deputy Marshal Zachary Miller, 28, was arrested by the IMAGE Drug Task Force and LaGrange County sheriff's deputies. He faces three counts of official misconduct, and one count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine.

In Longmont, Colorado, a Longmont police officer was arrested November 12 for providing pills to a woman he had once arrested. Officer Jack Kimmett, 54, went down after a parolee complained that Kimmett was regularly providing Vicodin pills to his wife. The wife eventually admitted that Kimmett stole his wife's Vicodins to give to her when she needed them, that he had been paying the rent and utilities for her apartment, and that he admitted stealing tea bags, trash bags, and hot chocolate mix from a local business where he worked security. The woman agreed to do a drug transaction with Kimmett while police watched, and after it went down, he was arrested. He is charged with felony drug distribution, misdemeanor official conduct, and theft of less than $1,000.

As Long as the Drug War Continues, So Will the Corruption

Stories like this one about the endemic drug war corruption gripping Mexican law enforcement are a dime a dozen. But I don't get bored reading them, because there's always a new and compelling example of what a mess all of this is:

Reporting from San Luis Potosi, Mexico -  The lie-detector team brought in by Mexico's top cop was supposed to help clean up the country's long-troubled police. There was just one problem: Most of its members themselves didn't pass, and a supervisor was rigging results to make sure others did. [LA Times]

Yeah, it's awfully hard to purge corruption when the people in charge of investigating it are corrupt themselves. It's insane to spend a billion dollars trying to fix Mexican law enforcement, when the cartels can just spend more to make sure it stays broken.

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