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.
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  Will Matthews, ACLU National at (212) 549-2582 or 2666; firstname.lastname@example.org  Sandra Hernandez, ACLU of Southern California at (213) 977-5252; email@example.com
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:
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:
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:
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.
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:
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.
A campus cop, an auxiliary cop, and a sheriff's deputy all go down. Let's get to it:
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.
It's a Texas trifecta this week, plus a Nashville cop buying guns for the cartels, an ATF agent with sticky fingers, and an upstate New York cop with several bad habits. Let's get to it:
In Beaumont, Texas, two Beaumont police officers pleaded guilty December 22 to misdemeanor charges of tampering with government records for leaving a confidential informant's name out of statements and testimony. Officers Brad Bealieu and Eric Heilman also had their peace officer's licenses suspended for six months.
In Cleveland, Ohio, a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms agent pleaded guilty December 22 to stealing money in an October drug raid. ATF Agent Steven Campbell was part of team raiding a marijuana dealer in nearby Lyndhurst when he began stuffing cash into his pockets. A DEA agent on the raid turned him in. When confronted, Campbell insisted the only cash he had was his, but when he struggled to resist being handcuffed, $46,000 fell out of his pockets.
In McAllen, Texas, a former Pharr police officer pleaded guilty December 22 to being on the payroll of the Mexican drug cartel the Zetas. Former officer Jaime Beas, 33, had been arrested in a July sting in which he thought he was trading cocaine for high-powered weapons and body armor destined for the Zetas. He lived in a house owned by a Zetas member. The house and four luxury cars were seized by authorities. He pleaded guilty to an organized crime charge.
In McAllen, Texas, a former McAllen police officer was sentenced December 21 to 27 years in federal prison for drug trafficking conspiracy. Former officer Francisco Meza-Rojas had led a group that smuggled cocaine and pot into the Rio Grande Valley, but after being arrested in 2006 broke out of jail and fled to Mexico until he was arrested in July. He had pleaded guilty earlier this year to conspiracy to possess cocaine and marijuana with intent to distribute.
In Niagara Falls, New York, a former Niagara Falls police officer was sentenced December 22 to nearly 14 years in prison for tipping off drug dealers to police investigations, buying crack cocaine on duty, and groping a woman he had pulled over. Former officer Ryan Warme had pleaded guilty in April to three felonies in exchange for a 10-year sentence, but got additional time added on after admitting threatening a prisoner who was set to testify against. He pleaded guilty to deprivation of civil rights under color of law, using and carrying his Niagara Falls Police Department-issued pistol during a drug transaction and conspiracy to distribute more than five grams of crack cocaine.
In Shakopee, Minnesota, a former Carver County sheriff's detective was sentenced December 28 to six months in jail for stealing methamphetamine from the department's evidence vault in Chaska. Daniel Kahlow, an 18-year-veteran, went down after authorities noticed the drugs had been tampered with and saw him entering the vault in a surveillance video. He admitted ripping off the meth for his personal use and told investigators he had been smoking meth for about a year. Kahlow copped a plea to second-degree possession of meth. He begins serving his sentence this month.
From the Rio Grande Valley to New York City, it's more cops gone wild this week. Let's get to it:
In Atlanta, a US Customs and Border Protection officer was arrested December 16 on drug and gun smuggling charges after getting caught in a sting operation linked to a large seizure of ecstasy. Officer Devon Samuels took $72,000 in cash from undercover officers and smuggled it to Jamaica, accepted five firearms and $20,000 in alleged drug money from another agent, and checked government computers to see if he or associates were under investigation.
In New York City, an NYPD officer pleaded not guilty December 15 in a scheme to buy $40,000 worth of ketamine to distribute at raves. Officer Kifah Othman, 40, allegedly tried to score the Special K from a former cop-turned-tattoo-parlor-operator who is cooperating with the feds in a bid for leniency in a narcotics case. Othman has been suspended and is free on $250,000 bond. He faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.
In Brownsville, Texas, a Cameron County sheriff's deputy pleaded guilty Friday to trying to smuggle weapons into Mexico in exchange for money. Jesus Longoria, 31, admitted to trying to smuggle 13 weapons he believed were destined for a drug cartel into Mexico in exchange for $4,000. Longoria waved a driver through on an international bridge after contacting him via cell phone to tell him when it was safe to cross. Unfortunately for Longoria, the driver was an undercover federal agent. He faces up to 10 years in federal prison and is being held in custody pending his March 14 sentencing.
In St. Martinville, Louisiana, a former St. Martinville police officer was sentenced Friday to three years in prison for stealing cash, guns, and drugs from the department's evidence room to support her gambling habit. Charlotte Durand, 57, a 20-year veteran, was working as the department's evidence custodian when she was arrested in April 2009. Durand pawned her department issued gun in December 2007, and after that, began stealing guns, cash, and cocaine from the evidence room. She was originally charged with three counts of malfeasance in office and two counts of felony theft, but pleaded guilty in March to one count of malfeasance in office and one count of felony theft as part of a plea agreement.
In Atlanta, a former Atlanta police officer was sentenced December 16 to 12 years in prison on drug and corruption charges. Lucius Solomon III, 32, went down after offering protection for what he thought were large cocaine loads, and doing so while in uniform and on duty. He pleaded guilty on September 2.
In Woodward, Oklahoma, a former Woodward police detective is under investigation after he admitted stealing methamphetamine from a department evidence locker. Former officer Mike Morton told an unrelated federal court hearing in July that he stole the meth and gave it to his wife. The pair divorced in June. The Oklahoma Bureau of Investigation is now examining the evidence in some 2,500 cases to see what, if anything is missing.
A narc who admits he's corrupt, a narc accused of serial theft, an auxiliary cop busted for peddling pills, and a deputy who thought he was protecting dealers all made the roll of dishonor this week. Let's get to it:
In New Lexington, Ohio, a Somerset police auxiliary officer was arrested December 7 for peddling Oxycontin. Auxiliary officer Joseph Daley, 33, was arrested at his home after an investigation that began in February. Daley sold to an undercover officer and then was arrested. He is charged with one count of aggravating drug trafficking with a gun specification. He was being held on a $50,000 bond in the Muskingum County Jail at last report. Oh, and he's been fired from his auxiliary officer gig.
In Houston, a former Harris County sheriff's deputy was indicted by a federal grand jury last week on charges he took $1,000 in bribes to help protect what he thought were Ecstasy shipments. George Ellington, Jr., 38, is charged with two counts of extortion under color of official right, two counts of aiding and abetting the possession with the intent to distribute Ecstasy, and two counts of carrying or possessing a Glock .40 caliber pistol to further a drug trafficking crime. He was originally arrested October, but the federal grand jury has updated the charges. He is out on $50,000 bond.
In Providence, Rhode Island, a Providence narcotics officer pleaded guilty December 9 to peddling cocaine and assisting a "large-scale cocaine distribution ring" led by one of his confidential informants. Detective Joseph Colanduono, 45, pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to deliver drugs, larceny, and harboring a criminal. He faces up to 10 years in prison when he is sentenced next month. Colanduona was one of four Providence police officers and at least 25 others charged in a joint investigation of the ring by the Rhode Island State Police and the FBI. He worked on a DEA task force until he was arrested.