Police Corruption

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Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

A dope-dealing probation officer, a detective who buddied-up to a dope dealer, and a sticky-fingered small town cop make the roll-call of dishonor this week. Let's get to it:

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evidence room cash
In Cranston, Rhode Island, a juvenile probation officer was arrested Tuesday after police said he sold heroin to an undercover officer. Michael Ayer, 49, faces two counts of delivering heroin to a police officer. He went down after the State Police High Intensity Drug Trafficking Task Force got a tip from an informant last month. He allegedly made repeated heroin sales to the undercover officer, and did so using his state vehicle and his state-issued cell phone. There is no indication Ayer peddled any dope to his probationers.

In Santa Fe, New Mexico, a Santa Fe police detective has been recommended for termination after he was caught on an FBI tape promising to provide a gun to a drug dealer "who clearly conveyed his intent to commit murder," according to police documents. Detective Jose Valencia, who headed the police union at the time of the taping, is also accused of providing an undercover narc's description to the drug dealer and making disparaging remarks about fellow officers. Valencia faced a hearing Thursday to revoke his certification as a law enforcement officer in New Mexico. That decision will be made next month.

In Moab, Utah, a former Moab police officer was arrested February 4 for stealing $900 in drug bust proceeds from his own police station. Edward Guerrero, 43, faces burglary and theft charges in the break-in, which occurred last August.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Rogue narcs in Camden, cops dealing weed out of police cars, a crooked DARE officer, cops helping dealers, and, of course, another prison guard goes down, more jail and prison guards go down. Let's get to it:

In Camden, New Jersey, the FBI is investigating corruption in a special operations team handling drugs and gun crime. The four officers involved, who have been suspended without pay, are Jason Stetser, Antonio Figueroa, Kevin Parry, and Robert Bayard. They are suspected of beating defendants, planting drugs, and bringing phony charges to enhance their arrest records and force reluctant players in the drug underworld to cooperate. Drug charges made by the rogue cops have already been dropped in seven cases, and defense attorneys say dozens, if not hundreds, more could be dismissed. The group generated a pattern of complaints of mistreatment and illegal behavior. In one case, a victim complained that Stetser harassed him to become a snitch, then planted drugs on him and arrested him when he refused. In other cases as well, suspects said the officers stole money and drugs during searches or planted drugs on suspects who refused to cough up information on dealers and their stashes.

In Earlville, Illinois, an Earlville police officer was arrested last Friday for delivering an unspecified amount of marijuana to a person who was an informant for the local Tri-DENT drug task force. Officer Sergio Javier Fuentes, 41, is charged with felony drug possession and official misconduct. According to Tri-DENT, Fuentes drove an Earlville police car to deliver the weed to a house in town. He was arrested when he drove back to the Earlville Police Department. More weed was found in his vehicle, and so was Clonazepam. Fuentes is looking at two to five years for the official misconduct and one to three years for felony marijuana possession. He is out on bail and has been suspended with pay.

In West Pittston, Pennsylvania, a former West Pittston police officer was charged Monday with improperly receiving $20,000 in grant money as compensation for DARE (Drug and Alcohol Resistance Education) classes he never taught. Joseph Campbell, 47, is charged with five felony counts of theft by deception -- one for each year submitted fraudulent payment vouchers. Campbell taught elementary school DARE classes in Wyoming Area schools, but did not teach them at middle or high school level, as his payment vouchers claimed. Campbell has admitted to wrongdoing and has been fired. He was released on a $25,000 bond, with a preliminary hearing set for February 10.

In West Gardinier, Maine, a Cumberland County jail guard was arrested Wednesday for scheming to smuggle drugs into the jail. Guard Toby Post, 38, a six-year veteran, was seen taking control of a stash of drugs and was arrested trying to bring them into the jail. He is charged with trafficking in prison contraband. He is on paid administrative leave pending an internal investigation and out on bond awaiting a March 10 trial date.

In New York City, a former NYPD sergeant was sentenced Tuesday to six months in prison for lying to DEA investigators during a drug investigation. Former officer Roosevelt Green got busted for using NYPD computers to obtain vehicle registration information for a pair of DEA surveillance vehicles and passing that information on to a drug trafficking suspect. He went down because the DEA was wiretapping the suspect and overheard the conversations. Then he lied to the DEA, and now he's going away.

In Staunton, Virginia, a former Augusta Correctional Complex guard was sentenced January 28 to 18 months in prison for smuggling marijuana to inmates at the prison in Craigsville. Former guard April Hogsett, 26, had pleaded guilty in November to conspiracy to distribute marijuana and bribery. She was fired a week after her August arrest.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Cops punching drug suspects, deputies smuggling dope to a jailed gang leader, a probation officer trading clean drug tests for sexual favors, a cop who got in trouble when he overdosed on the dope he stole, a cop whose Oxycontin habit got the best of him, and, of course, more crooked prison and jail guards. Let's get to it:

In Los Angeles, LA County Sheriff's investigators are looking into whether two deputies smuggled drugs into a gang leader's jail cell in 2003. The investigation opened after a member of another gang testified in a trial last week that the deputies concealed drugs in a bedroll at the Pitchess Detention Center in Castaic and sneaked them into the gang leader's cell. One of the accused deputies, Carlos Restrepo, was investigated six years ago for a similar allegation.

In New York City, two NYPD officers were suspended last Friday after being caught on camera punching a handcuffed drug suspect who was lying on the ground. Undercover narcs were conducting an arrest when one of their victims fled. Two uniformed officers joined in the chase and were caught on video assaulting the man. No word yet on whether they will face any criminal charges.

In Anchorage, Alaska, a state probation officer was arrested January 19 on charges he certified a female probationer's dirty drug test as clean in return for sexual favors and money. James Stanton, 53, was arrested in the Nesbett Courthouse, where he worked. Stanton faces bribery and official misconduct charges. At last report, Stanton was jailed on $10,000 bail.

In Youngstown, Ohio, a Bracewell police officer was arrested January 21 for conducting an illegal information search on police computers for two acquaintances who have been arrested on heroin distribution charges. Ryan Freeman, 30, found out that his friends were under investigation by a local drug task force and let them know it. He will face charges of unauthorized use of the Ohio Law Enforcement Gateway and obstruction of justice.

In Calipatria, California, a Calipatria State Prison guard was arrested last Friday by FBI agents for allegedly smuggling heroin and methamphetamine into the prison. Charles Rowe, 42, was taken to the Imperial County Jail where he was charged with bringing a controlled substance into a jail, transporting or distributing a controlled substance, and conspiracy.

In Lyndhurst, Ohio, a former Lyndhurst police officer was sentenced to probation January 20 for stealing heroin he had seized in a May traffic stop. Robert Colombo, 40, a 15-year veteran, arrested two people on heroin possession charges, but replaced the heroin with rock salt on his way to the evidence room. The next day, he overdosed. He pleaded guilty to drug possession and theft in office last month. He resigned from the department in September.

In Yuma, Arizona, a former Yuma police officer was sentenced last Friday to three years and four months in prison for stealing cash from the department's evidence room to buy prescription drugs on which he was strung out. Former Officer Geoffrey Michael Presco was convicted of stealing nearly $11,000 to support his Oxycontin habit. He said he became addicted after being prescribed them for a knee injury.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

A sticky-fingering, meth-snorting cop goes away for awhile, and a trio of jail guards get in trouble. Let's get to it:

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seized cash
In Glendora, California, a former Glendora police officer was sentenced Tuesday to six months in jail, three years of probation, and a 24-month drug rehabilitation program after pleading no contest to grand theft and methamphetamine possession charges. Timothy Radogna, 34, was arrested in May in an "integrity sting" after superiors received reports he was failing to book drugs and cash into evidence. Police left meth and $1,000 in cash in a bait car, and Radogna took the bait. He could have gotten up to nine years.

In Beaumont, Texas, a former Texas Department of Corrections guard pleaded guilty Monday to trying to smuggle drugs and a cell phone into the Stiles Unit in his lunchbox. Eric Talmore, 25, copped pleas to bribery and having a prohibited substance in a correctional facility. He got busted with tobacco in his socks, rolling papers in his underwear, and marijuana and a cell phone hidden inside a container of fried rice. He faces up to 30 years in prison when sentenced on February 16, but his attorney is asking for probation.

In Manchester, Kentucky, a Clay County Detention Center guard was arrested Sunday on charges she smuggled drugs to inmates in the jail. Guard Dawn Hayes, 31, fell prey to an undercover investigation by the County Sheriff's Office, taking drugs to be smuggled into the jail from a confidential informant. Hayes is currently residing at her place of employment.

In Chesterton, Indiana, an Indiana State Prison guard was arrested January 2 for trying to smuggle tobacco and marijuana into the prison. Barb Roseborough, a nine-year veteran, got caught when prison staff found a package wrapped in electrical tape hidden in the lining of her bag as she reported for work. A second package was later found hidden on her person. She has been charged with trafficking with an offender and felony marijuana possession. She faces from two to eight years on the first count and up to three years on the second. At last report, she was being held at the LaPorte County Jail.

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.

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