Police Corruption

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Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

An Indiana prosecutor gets slapped again over shady asset forfeiture practices, a Texas trooper gets caught with the coke, and so does a North Carolina cop. Let's get to it:

In Muncie, Indiana, the Delaware County prosecutor has been ordered to repay $18,395 in legal fees he paid himself as a drug task force prosecutor where he bypassed the courts and used confidential agreements with defendants to seize money and property. Delaware County Judge Richard Dailey ruled that because no asset forfeiture judgment was rendered in court, Prosecutor Mark McKinney is not entitled to attorney's fees. In one case cited where more than $50,000 was seized by the Muncie-Delaware County Drug Task Force, McKinney paid himself $4,193 in legal fees and took 25% of the value of seized property auctioned off. He faces an investigation by a special prosecutor to see if he committed any crime with his handling of drug forfeitures, as well as a misconduct complaint filed with the Indiana Supreme Court disciplinary commission.

In Brownsville, Texas, a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper was charged Monday with possession with the intent to distribute cocaine after police watched him take delivery of two suitcases full of the drug in a motel parking lot. Trooper Jesus Larrazolo, 35, was holding 26 kilos of coke when arrested by Brownsville police and agents from the FBI's Special Investigations Unit. According to court documents, Larrazolo said he had been threatened by unknown persons if he did not participate in the drug deal. He is a six-year veteran trooper.

In Columbus, North Carolina, a former Columbus police officer was arrested last Friday on multiple drug charges. Carl David Wright, 53, faces six counts each of trafficking cocaine by possession, transportation, and manufacture. During a search of Wright's home after his arrest, police seized more than $250,000 cash and a kilo of cocaine. State and federal revenue agents seized $4,000 in cash, $1,400 in coins, three flat-screen TVs, two lawn mowers, a 2002 Chevy Camaro and a 1997 Nissan pickup to help satisfy a $39,000 tax lien Wright was assessed for possessing the cocaine. Wright is being held at the Columbus County Detention Center with bail set at $1 million. The state charges could be superseded by federal charges if a grand jury that was set to meet this week returns a federal indictment against him.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

A trio of bad apples from Arizona, including a DARE officer with a penchant for sexual assault, made the news this week, while the city of Berwyn, Illinois, found itself in a bit of hot water over the way it used asset forfeiture funds. Let's get to it:

In Nogales, Arizona, a former Nogales DARE officer was convicted last Friday on numerous charges related to unwanted sexual contact with young women. Ramon Borbon, 40, was convicted of sexual abuse and obstructing a criminal investigation in the case of a 16-year-old girl whom he forced to touch him inappropriately and threatened to stop her from going to authorities. He was also convicted of sexual assault and kidnapping charges in the case of a 19-year-old woman for restraining and raping her. He was in uniform during both incidents. In a motion ruling during trial, Santa Cruz County Superior Court Judge James Soto wrote that Borbon has "a character trait which gives rise to an aberrant sexual propensity" and that he appeared to have "identified young, vulnerable females with a history of psychological and/or substance abuse problems that are less likely to come forward and if they do, are less likely to be considered credible." There are also at least four other complaints of sexual abuse against Borbon. The police department had earlier found them to be "without merit." He will be sentenced December 12.

In Phoenix, a Maricopa County jail guard was arrested Monday for allegedly smuggling cocaine in for an inmate. Detention officer Ryan White, 27, accepted sexual favors from two women who were the inmates' roommates in return for sneaking in the coke, which was found in his uniform pocket. He is now charged with two felonies -- promoting jail contraband and assisting in a criminal syndicate.

In Coolidge, Arizona, a guard at the Corrections Corporation of America's Central Arizona Detention Center was arrested last week by the FBI on charges he tried to smuggle cocaine into the prison there. Juan Nunez is charged with attempted provision of a prohibited object to an inmate and possession of cocaine with intent to distribute. According to the criminal complaint in the case, Nunez had been negotiating for the past two weeks with an inmate's family to bring cocaine into the prison. On November 6, Nunez met with an FBI agent possessing as an outside source for cocaine and accepted a half-ounce of cocaine and $1,600 for agreeing to smuggle it into the private prison. He was arrested after that meeting. A conviction for trying to bring a prohibited object to an inmate in this case carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison, a $250,000 fine or both, and a conviction for possession of cocaine for sale carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison, a $1 million fine or both.

In Berwyn, Illinois, the US Justice Department has accused the city of Berwyn of misusing drug forfeiture money. After reviewing the city's annual audit of asset forfeiture spending, the department's Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section sent the city a letter citing various "impermissible expenditures," including spending too much of the asset forfeiture fund in the years 2004 and 2005. Since asset forfeiture funds are generally supposed to be used for crime prevention, the department cited more than $120,000 used to pay salaries, $88,000 in "cash transfers" to the Berwyn Park District, $156,000 in "cash transfers" to two local school districts, and $91,000 for bus trip for senior citizens. In all, the city may have to pay back more than $760,000 in improperly disbursed asset forfeiture funds. While schools, parks, and senior citizen bus rides are all worthy activities, spending asset forfeiture funds on them is a violation of the law.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Crooked policing sparks lawsuits in Oakland and New Haven, another jail guard goes down, so does a Border Patrol inspector, a Louisiana narc gets busted for burglary, and an Illinois cop gets caught with his hand in the cookie jar. Let's get to it:

In Oakland, California, the Oakland Police Department is facing a lawsuit from at least nine people who claim Oakland cops improperly falsified information on drug search warrants and filed false reports. Oakland police have admitted that some officers used purported narcotics obtained through undercover drug buys as probable cause to search homes even though the crime lab had not yet confirmed the substances actually were illicit drugs. Some criminal cases have had to be dropped and verdicts reversed. The lawsuit seeks financial damages and an injunction against the city.

In New Haven, Connecticut, a man who was charged with eight felony drug counts after New Haven police planted drugs on him is suing the department and the city for $10 million. The lawsuit filed Monday by Norval Falconer names the city, former Police Chief Francisco Ortiz, Jr., the former head of the department's Narcotics Enforcement Unit, former Detective William White, and two other former detectives, Justen Kasperzyk and Jose Silva. The three detectives have all pleaded guilty to federal corruption charges and been sentenced to prison. Kasperzyk and Silva have acknowledged that they set up Falconer. Kasperzyk testified in a deposition "that Ortiz, White and the NEU enforced a policy of planting evidence, falsifying arrest warrant affidavits, taking keys from drivers in order to illegally search their homes and making arrests that officers knew were unlawful."

In Santa Fe, New Mexico, a jail guard was arrested Tuesday for smuggling drugs into the Santa Fe County Jail. Leah Fragua, 21, allegedly smuggled cocaine and marijuana into the jail in a cigarette pack for a prisoner and got busted after jail authorities heard about it while listening in on inmate phone calls. No word yet on formal charges.

In Eagle Pass, Texas, a US Customs and Border Patrol inspector was arrested October 30 for allegedly helping drug traffickers smuggle 3,000 pounds of cocaine intro the country over five years. The Customs officer, Jorge Leija, 43, was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of conspiracy to possess cocaine with the intent to distribute and making a false statement. Leija was paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for his efforts, an unnamed DEA agent testified at a bail hearing last week, including $30,000 he was paid to make false statements on a passport application for another person. Leija was ordered held without bail. He faces from 10 years to life in prison and a $4 million fine if convicted.

In New Iberia, Louisiana, an Iberia Parish Sheriff's Office narcotics division agent was arrested for burglarizing a house on October 26. Narc Jerrel Tauzin allegedly burglarized a home while the owners were out of town, stealing a handgun, a remote control car, and a bag containing $1,000 in parts. Because some of the items had been hidden in the home, the owners suspected it was someone they knew, and attention quickly turned to Tauzin, who subsequently admitted taking the items. The stolen goods were found in his home. The two-year veteran was fired early this month and now faces one count of simple burglary of an inhabited dwelling. He's out on $10,000 bond.

In Galesburg, Illinois, a former Galesburg police officer was sentenced November 6 for stealing drugs from the department evidence locker. David Hendricks, 50, pleaded guilty last month to charges of official misconduct and drug possession after being arrested last year. He was accused of stealing drugs over a three-year period for his personal use. While he could have faced up to 20 years in prison, he will do only 180 days and 30 months of specialized probation.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Another NYPD bad apple, a probation officer with a bad habit, and more jail guards ending up on the inside looking out. Let's get to it:

In New York City, an NYPD officer has been jailed pending trial after being accused of being part of a gang that robbed drug dealers in six states ranging from New York to North Carolina. Officer Jorge Arbaje-Diaz was indicted for conspiracy to violate the Hobbs Act (extortion by force), possession and distribution of cocaine, and firearms charges. Arbaje-Diaz reportedly wore his police uniform in some of the 100 armed robberies attributed to the gang, which managed to steal some 1,500 pounds of cocaine and $4 million in cash from dealers.

In Vale, Oregon, an Eastern Oregon probation officer was arrested October 30 for apparently stealing drugs. Sydnie Maglaughlin, 36, is charged with possession of a controlled substance, third-degree theft and third-degree official misconduct. Maglaughlin worked as a corrections technician for the Malheur County Work Release Program from 2004 to 2006, when she transferred to the probation office. She has posted $1,500 bail and is free pending trial.

In Panama City, Florida, a Bay County jail guard was arrested Wednesday after she was caught bringing pain pills to work. It apparently wasn't the first time. Angela Lavonne Chiles now faces charges of introduction of contraband into a detention facility and unlawful compensation for official behavior. She has now been fired and is currently looking out from the other side of the bars.

In Worcester, Massachusetts, a former jail guard at the Worcester County House of Corrections was sentenced October 30 to two years in prison for smuggling oxycodone into the jail. Matthew Mahoney, 25, had been convicted in federal court on charges of conspiracy to distribute oxycodone and possession of oxycodone with intent to distribute. Mahoney was caught in 2007 smuggling between 80 and 100 pills into the jail. He must report to prison by December 1.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

One cop offers bribes, one cop takes bribes, two cops take drugs and money. Just another week in the drug war. Let's get to it:

In Beaver County, Pennsylvania, a part-time Beaver County police officer was charged October 22 with offering a fellow officer a bribe to drop drug charges against another man. Officer Kenneth Williams, 55, is charged with bribery and obstruction of the administration of law. A man arrested in February 2007 contacted Williams and offered him $1,000 to act as a middle-man in offering the arresting officer a $5,000 bribe. But when contacted by Williams, the arresting officer reported the incident to his superiors, then wore a wire at his next meeting with Williams to discuss the matter. When confronted with the recordings, Williams said it was "all just a joke." Bet he's not laughing now.

In Fallowfield, Pennsylvania, a former Fallowfield police officer was charged Tuesday with stealing thousands of dollars worth of cocaine and marijuana seized in a 2006 case he investigated. Former Officer Allen Pettit, 46, faces a half-dozen charges, including theft and perjury. Pettit was the last person to have custody of five ounces of cocaine and nearly a pound of pot seized in the bust. Police valued the drugs at $8,500. The dope was discovered to be missing during a hearing in April 2007, when Pettit falsely testified the drugs had been destroyed. He is now in jail trying to raise a $50,000 cash bond.

In Charlotte, North Carolina, a former Lake city police officer was convicted October 22 of taking money to protect drug dealers. Shanita McKnight, 35, was convicted on extortion and drug conspiracy charges. As part owner of a Lake City night club, McKnight tolerated drug and prostitution activities at the club, warned family members and others about pending police actions, and took money from at least one cocaine dealer. Another dealer testified that she let him drive her police car while smoking marijuana. McKnight went straight from court to jail pending sentencing.

In Seymour, Tennessee, a former Sevier County Drug Task Force officer was sentenced Monday to nine months in jail and three years probation after pleading guilty to three counts of theft. Former Deputy Mark Shults, 34, admitted keeping $16,521 that he had seized from drug suspects instead of submitting it as evidence. More than 20 other drug cases had to be dismissed or were not pursued because Shults was involved in them. Prosecutors submitted evidence that Shults was strung out of alcohol and pain pills and got drugs by buying them from dealers of stealing them from the task force. Shults and his family say he is clean now, but he's still going to jail.

Rumors of NYPD Sexually Assaulting a Marijuana Suspect

The New York Post has a horrible story alleging that NYPD officers sodomized a marijuana suspect with a walkie talkie. Sounds pretty bad, but I should note that former cop and current LEAP member Peter Moskos has doubts about the accuracy of the reports.

Even if that story turns out to be false, this one is very true.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Cops dealing drugs, cops stealing money. More of the same old same old. Let's get to it:

In Memphis, a Bolivar police officer was indicted by a federal grand jury last Friday on drug dealing charges. Officer William Patrick Jordan is accused of buying powerful pain-relieving drugs from undercover informants and selling them to "young girls at the Sonic Drive-In in Bolivar."

In Knoxville, Tennessee, a former drug task force officer was sentenced October 16 to nine months in jail and three years probation for stealing money from drug suspects and from the drug task force to which he was assigned. Former Sevier County deputy sheriff Mark Victor Shults had earlier pleaded guilty to three counts of theft over $1,000. Authorities said Shults became addicted to the drugs he was seizing and stole money to feed his habit.

In Boston, a former Swampscott police officer was sentenced October 14 to six months of home confinement and two years probation for dealing dope. Former officer Thomas Wrenn pleaded guilty to possessing cocaine and Oxycontin in June after being arrested in March during a police sting while trying to buy drugs. He resigned after his arrest.

In Atlanta, a former DEA agent was sentenced September 18 to 21 months in prison for failing to report cash income in 2004. (Sorry, we missed this when it happened.) Gregory Campion, 48, served as an assistant supervisor at a DEA task force office in Atlanta, where he had access to millions of dollars in cash seized from suspected drug dealers. In 2004, Campion deposited more than $200,000 in cash in his bank accounts -- at the same time that seizures conducted during his tenure came up "short" when deposited in banks. He didn't report his income on his tax return, and that's why he is headed for prison.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

More rogue cops in New York City, a Texas sheriff gets busted, some sticky-fingered narcs in Ohio, a would-be pot-growing cop in Florida, and yes, another prison employee busted for getting the inmates high. Let's get to it:

In New York City, two unnamed NYPD officers will likely be indicted shortly for being part of a violent crew that robbed drug dealers, kidnapping and sexually torturing some of their victims. One is an active-duty officer; the other is retired. The pair are accused of wearing their uniforms and acting as "cops" for a crew that stole more than 100 kilos of cocaine from dealers in robberies up and down the East Coast. The crew would kidnap their victims after a police-style car stop or home invasion raid, then take them to remote areas at gunpoint and threaten and sometimes torture them until they gave up their drugs. A dozen members of the crew have already been indicted, but in a September 16 hearing before Brooklyn federal District Judge Nicholas Garaufis, Assistant US Attorney Andrea Goldbarg said she would soon file a superseding indictment, indicating the arrest of the two cops is looming.

In Hidalgo, Texas, the Starr County sheriff was arrested Tuesday for conspiring to smuggle illicit drugs into the country. Sheriff Reymundo Guerra, 52, was charged in a 19-count federal indictment that includes more than a dozen co-conspirators. Federal prosecutors said Guerra possessed with the intent to distribute more than 700 pounds of marijuana and more than two pounds of cocaine. He is also charged with using a phone to facilitate the conspiracy and helping a co-defendant avoid capture by suggesting the use of fraudulent lease documents. Guerra is looking at 10 years to life in prison and a $4 million fine.

In Warren, Ohio, two Trumbull County Sheriff's Office deputies will be fired for allegedly ripping-off an anti-drug charity for their personal gain. Sgts. Pete Pizzullo and Anthony Leshnack were informed that the sheriff has recommended their termination on October 3. The pair founded the Ohio Narcotics Officers Association in 2004 to raise money for charitable organizations with anti-drug messages and, using a professional fundraising company, collected more than $1 million statewide. It is unclear how much of the money the two are supposed to have skimmed off for personal use. The firing is not a done deal; there is an extensive appeals process. The county prosecutor has asked for a special prosecutor to be appointed, but so far, there are no criminal charges against the pair.

In Valdosta, Georgia, a Georgia Department of Corrections prison employee was arrested October 8 for smuggling drugs to inmates. Deborah Watson, 26, a kitchen employee at Valdosta State Prison, went down after investigators asked to search her at work. She refused and quit on the spot, only to be stopped and searched by Valdosta County sheriff's deputies when she left the prison. In her bra, they found three tubes filled with drugs including marijuana, cocaine, and heroin. Authorities valued the drugs at $4,000 on the street and several times that behind bars. That's where Watson is now.

In Orlando, Florida, an Altamonte Springs police officer pleaded guilty in federal court last Friday to setting up a marijuana grow house and having an arsenal of weapons on hand. Clay Adams, 26, pleaded guilty to five federal charges, including conspiring with his wife to grow 2,200 pounds of marijuana. Adams and his wife, Robyn, 32, were arrested July 21 after setting up a grow house in Chuluota. He faces at least 15 years in prison.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

A Wyoming cop get sentenced for stealing his canine officer father's training dope, a prosecutor in Indiana is in the hot seat over asset forfeiture, and another prison guard gets busted. Let's get to it:

In Tallahassee, Florida, a state prison guard was arrested Monday night for allegedly selling cocaine at a North Florida prison. Florida Department of Corrections guard Keith Alan Black is charged with one count of trafficking cocaine. He was arrested after an investigation that began September 24 and was being held in the Leon County Jail on a $150,000 bond.

In Lyman, Wyoming, a former Gillette police officer and Campbell County jail guard was sentenced October 1 to two to four years in prison for stealing marijuana from his father's police patrol car. Thomas Brent Clark took about one pound of pot that his father, a canine officer for the Uinta County Sheriff's Department, kept in his vehicle for training purposes. He was sentenced to the same amount of prison time last week in Campbell County, but may not actually serve any time behind bars. His sentencing judge has recommended that he be sent to a six-month boot camp rather than the state penitentiary.

In Delaware County, Indiana, asset forfeiture abuses by local prosecutors continue to roil local courts. Circuit court judges have been reviewing old cases and are especially critical of County Prosecutor Mark McKinney, whom one judge labeled "deceitful" in his dealing with the court on drug forfeitures. Judges also rebuked McKinney for using confidential settlement agreements with defendants to obtain property without going through the courts, and one judge is examining past forfeiture cases in his court after learning that a defendant's bank account he had ordered frozen had been emptied. That's part of a pattern with McKinney, who in this case divided the bank account holdings between the Muncie Delaware Drug Task Force, the defendant, and his defense attorney. McKinney must now file a brief explaining why he should not be held personally accountable for the improperly distributed funds.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Crooked policing runs the gamut this week: from a former chief of police busted for dope dealing, to a cop nailed for acting as a middleman in a bribery scheme, to some lying cops being scrutinized by a federal judge, to a crew of rogue detectives costing their employer a nice settlement, to another rogue cop who's been on the lam for the last five years. Let's get to it:

In Schenectady, New York, a former Schenectady police chief was arrested September 24 along with his wife on multiple drug charges. Gregory Kaczmarek, who was chief of police from 1996 to 2002, faces multiple felony cocaine possession charges and second-degree conspiracy to distribute marijuana. The charges grew out of an earlier bust that wrapped up Lisa Kaczmarek and the couple's son, along with 20 other people in the Albany area. The Kaczmareks are accused of picking up drugs in Long Island and selling them in Albany. Kaczmarek has been dogged by rumors of cocaine use for years, and had denied being a cokehead when he was named chief. He retired in 2002 over a non-drug-related corruption scandal.

In Midland, Pennsylvania, a Western Pennsylvania police officer was arrested September 25 for acting as a fixer for a drug suspect who was offering to pay $5,000 to the arresting officer to make his charge go away. Kenneth Williams, 54, a part-time officer in Midland and Industry, was arraigned on charges of bribery and obstructing administration of law. According to state police, Williams offered the money to another Midland officer in April 2007. He was supposed to get $1,000 for brokering the deal, but all he got was busted.

In New York City, an NYPD detective and a deputy US marshal were the subject of a court hearing yesterday to determine whether they should be prosecuted by the US attorney's office for lying in an evidentiary hearing in a drug case. The hearing comes a week after Judge Nicholas Garaufis tossed out the evidence in the case of Edgar Matos, saying he found the officers' version of events to be "a complete fabrication" that "defies credibility." NYPD Detective Adam Heege and Deputy US Marshal Dennis Tait testified that they were looking for Matos' cousin in a homicide investigation and calmly approached Matos, who then reached into his pocket and threw away ziploc bags containing drugs in front of them. Unusually, the judge chose to believe Matos -- and common sense -- when Matos denied throwing the drugs to the ground.

In New Orleans, the city of New Orleans has offered to settle a lawsuit filed by three men who said police planted drugs in their building and falsely arrested them in 2002. The case against the four men began falling apart when the four NOPD detectives involved in the case ran into problems of their own, and the city dropped the charges in 2003. The raid looked even sleazier after attorneys in the civil suit got testimony from informants that contradicted what the officers had reported. Since the bust, one of the officers involved, Det. Earl Razor, was fired from the force after he tested positive for cocaine as he was being investigated for stealing heroin from a drug dealer in police custody. A second, Det. Eric Smith, resigned from the force in 2003 shortly before being indicted for identity theft for using a stolen Social Security number to lease a Corvette. He later pleaded guilty. The lead detective in the case, Det. William Marks, was pulled over by an Illinois state trooper in November 2003 for speeding in a borrowed NOPD vehicle. The trooper reported finding two women in the car, one of whom was a convicted felon with an outstanding Chicago warrant for prostitution, and a partially-burned blunt and pot pipe under the seat, as well as a stolen 9 mm handgun in the trunk. Marks was later fired. The fourth detective, Steven Payne, had lent the NOPD vehicle to Marks, and he was later fired for possession of a stolen weapon. The city of New Orleans has offered the plaintiffs $85,000 to go away, and if that offer is accepted, the city will be getting a bargain.

In Chicago, a fugitive Chicago police narcotics officer remains at large five years after he vanished instead of facing trial for leading a crew of crooked cops who for a decade busted drug dealers but didn't arrest them, instead stealing and dealing their drugs and money and reselling the drugs to other dealers. Sgt. Eddie Hicks, a 30-year veteran of the force, was a superstar narc, making dozens of raids, and getting away with his crime spree until he and his crew were swept up in an undercover operation in 2001. According to federal prosecutors, Hicks and crew robbed and extorted hundreds of pounds of marijuana and kilograms of cocaine from their dealer victims, sometimes posing as members of a DEA squad. He is wanted for RICO violations; conspiracy, possession, and distribution of a controlled substance; and failure to appear. The FBI is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to his capture.

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