Police Corruption

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Honoring Good Cops Doesn’t Mean Ignoring Bad Ones

I recently mentioned the controversy surrounding some drug cops in Philadelphia who've been stealing cash and merchandise from convenience stores under the guise of enforcing paraphernalia laws.

Via Radley Balko, it looks like the story is getting more interesting. The Philadelphia Daily News obtained surveillance video from one of the stores, which shows officers sabotaging security cameras. While the video doesn’t catch officers actually stealing anything, it certainly doesn't look good that they're cutting wires on security cameras right before the alleged theft took place. The video also shows that the paraphernalia purchase cited on the search warrant never actually took place. Uh-oh.

The bottom line is that these cops are more than just a little bit dirty. They are insanely corrupt. And yet, the last time I wrote about this, someone actually complained about it in the comment section:

The majority of the criminals out there are bad mouthing the police organization because they are upset they got busted. Documented are thousands of cases where police acted as heroes and law enforcers; no one seems to want to report or testify on their behalf, so I am. I respect the law enforcement organizations for what their true goals are and strongly suggest that people such as your selves find a new line of work.

Yeah, I'll stop complaining about police misconduct when police stop committing outrageous crimes. I appreciate good police work as much as anyone, but I won't ignore or forgive horrible misconduct just because other cops are doing their job. Most bus drivers aren't alcoholics, but that doesn't mean every incident of drunk bus driving should become a celebration of all the heroic bus drivers who don't go to work wasted.

One crooked cop is one too many. And if the good cops can’t get rid of the bad ones, then they're not exactly perfect either.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

What's up with Pennsylvania? Yet more ugliness from the Keystone State, as well as the all too predictable border guard in trouble and jail guard with a bad habit. Let's get to it:

In Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled March 26 that a judge could throw out as many as 1,200 convictions of juveniles sentenced by a Luzerne County judge who agreed to plead guilty in March to taking bribes from a detention center owner to ensure he had a steady supply of juvenile offenders to house. Former Luzerne County Juvenile Court Judge Mark Ciavarella and his colleague, Judge Michael Conahan, agreed to cop a plea to taking $2.6 million in bribes from PA Child Care LLC and Western Pennsylvania Child Care LLC to send juveniles to prison for months for small-time offenses including possession of a pot pipe. The two crooked judges are looking at 87 months in prison each.

In Philadelphia, a Philadelphia police officer was arrested last Friday on charges he dealt drugs both before and after he joined the force. Officer Alhinde Weems, 33, went down after an informant working with a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agent snitched him out. That informant bought an ounce of crack cocaine from Weems in December and two more ounces in January. Later that month, the feds set up a sting in which Weems was videotaped selling what he thought was a pound of cocaine to a man he thought was a big-time drug dealer, but was actually an undercover agent. In February, Weems was videotaped telling the undercover agent he wanted to do a home invasion robbery of a drug dealer to steal his stash, and last Friday, as he was on his way to the fake bust, he was really busted. Now Weems faces up to 25 years in federal prison on conspiracy and drug dealing charges.

In Laredo, Texas, a former Border Patrol agent was sentenced Wednesday to 14 years in federal prison for taking a bribe to ensure a load of cocaine could move safely through Zapata County, on the Mexican border. Leonel Morales pleaded guilty in January to bribery after being caught on tape negotiating, planning, and accepting a $9,000 bribe to protect a 20-kilogram load. He also bragged that he could get other border agents out of the area when the load was ready to be moved. He must pay an $11,000 fine, too.

In Bellefontaine, Ohio, a Logan County jail guard was arrested Tuesday on charges she stole prescription drugs belonging to inmates. Guard Theresa Zook went down after inmates reported seeing her taking drugs belonging to someone being booked into the jail. After failing a polygraph exam, she admitted taking the pills, as well as taking drugs from a locked cabinet in the nurse's office. She was fired and now faces two counts of theft. She said she stole the pills because she was anxious.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Narcs gone wild, narcs cheating on their pay, narcs stealing dope, narcs lying on the stand, a perverted sheriff heads to prison, and that's just the half of it. Let's get to it:

In Philadelphia, a scandal over the behavior of the Philadelphia police Narcotics Field Unit keeps growing. Originally centered on narcotics officer Jeffrey Cujdik and accusations he lied in documenting drug arrests, the stench from the narcotics squad keeps getting more foul. Numerous convenience store owners have reported Cujdik and his squad members raided their shops, destroyed surveillance cameras in the stores, trashed the places, stole cigarettes, took thousands in cash while reporting much less, and then arrested them for selling small plastic bags that could be used to contain drugs. The Philadelphia Daily News interviewed seven store owners with remarkably similar stories, including several who said the narcs took food and slurped energy drinks, and others who said they stole cigarette cartons, batteries, cell phones, and candy bars. At least three of Cudjdik's snitches told the newspaper he gave them cartons of cigarettes. A special task force of FBI and Philadelphia police internal affairs was already investigating Cujdik over the earlier allegations; now that probe could spread to at least 17 other officers and three police supervisors involved in the convenience store raids.

In McKeesport, Pennsylvania, the entire McKeesport Police narcotics unit has been implicated in a pay scam. Seven officers were suspended last week after Chief Joe Pero discovered they were billing the city for court appearances they never made. Those suspended include two lieutenants and all four members of the dope squad. All have been reassigned. No word yet on any possible criminal charges.

In Alamagordo, New Mexico, an Alamagordo Department of Public Safety undercover narcotics officer was arrested last Friday after fellow officers noticed him acting erratically, took him to a hospital for drug testing, and received a positive drug test result. Richard Ramsdale then went down for trafficking by possession with intent to distribute after further investigation uncovered 1.3 pounds of unaccounted for cocaine in his cruiser. He was booked into the Otero County Jail and placed on administrative leave pending a termination hearing.

In New York City, an NYPD narcotics detective was indicted Monday on charges she perjured herself in a drug case. Detective Debra Eager was a little over-eager to make a collar stick when she told a court she and her partner watches two drug suspects carrying boxes into a building. She testified that she then followed the pair into the building, arrested them, and seized 33 pounds of marijuana. But she didn't realize the building was under video surveillance, which directly contradicted her testimony. The case was thrown out, and Eager was indicted on three counts of first-degree perjury, each worth up to seven years in prison. She is also suspended without pay.

In New Orleans, a rookie New Orleans police officer was arrested Saturday in a string of home invasion assaults originally thought to have been committed by someone impersonating a police officer. Officer Darrius Clipps faces numerous charges after admitting he had burst into the women's homes, demanded drugs and money, and forced his victims to undress. Clipps went down after a composite sketch of the suspect was released and several of his fellow officers recognized him. He faces charges of malfeasance in office, sexual battery, false imprisonment with a weapon, simple and aggravated kidnapping, aggravated burglary, and unauthorized entry of an inhabited dwelling. He resigned upon arrest.

In Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, a Luzerne County Correctional Facility officer was charged March 18 with being part of a multi-million dollar drug trafficking ring run by the Outlaws Motorcycle Club. Guard John Gonda, 38, was one of 22 people arrested by SWAT teams belonging to the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office in wrapping up a ring officials said was distributing a kilogram of cocaine every 10 days. Investigators seized 528 grams of cocaine, cutting agents, drug paraphernalia, more than $5,000 cash, rifles, shotguns, handguns, bulletproof vests, the gang's bylaws and a list of Outlaw associates in prison. Officials said they did not know if Gonda was peddling coke at the jail.

In Dallas, a Dallas County sheriff's deputy pleaded guilty this week to plotting to rip off drug dealers. Standric Choice, 36, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute more than 500 grams of cocaine. Choice had plotted with two other men to steal cocaine from a dealer by having one of them pretend to be a snitch, then arresting the snitch and taking the cocaine from the dealer. He went down in a sting at a Dallas truck stop. He now faces 10 years to life in federal prison and a $4.25 million fine.

In Memphis, two former Memphis officers were sentenced March 18 in a federal corruption case in which they admitted stealing drugs from dealers and reselling them. Former officers Antoine Owens and Alexander Johnson were sentenced in federal court to five years and two years respectively after pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate civil rights. They admitted conspiring with two other Memphis police officers to use their police authority to stop drug dealers, then steal dope and cash from them.

In Fairview, Oklahoma, a former Custer County Sheriff was sentenced Tuesday to 79 years in prison for sexually abusing female prisoners and drug court defendants. Former Sheriff Mike Burgess was sentenced on felony charges including five counts of second-degree rape. He was convicted of using his power over the women to force them to have sex with him.

In Brownsville, Texas, a former San Benito police officer was sentenced Tuesday to more than 13 years in federal prison for scheming with one other San Benito police officer and a local small business owner to rip off drug loads. Edgar Heberto Lopez and his partners in crime stole 200 to 300 pounds of pot during a February 2003 traffic stop, paid a tow truck driver $1,000 to haul the vehicle with the pot to a safe location in San Benito, and later sold 50 pounds of their stash to an undercover officer in February 2004. The two cops got $7,500 each in that deal. The next month, they stole six kilograms of cocaine during another traffic stop. They were supposed to get $10,000 for that heist; instead they got busted. Lopez pleaded guilty in July 2004, but fled before sentencing, only to be recaptured in April 2008. He has been jailed ever since, and he will be for a long time after pleading guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent marijuana, possession with intent to distribute more than 100 pounds of marijuana, carrying a firearm during the commission of a crime, and failure to appear.

The Fine Line Between Drug Raids and Armed Robberies

It seems Philadelphia's drug cops have adopted a nasty habit of raiding corner stores accused of selling paraphernalia, then smashing security cameras and just straight-up stealing cash and merchandise.

The accused officers are denying everything, of course, but the Philadelphia Daily News found multiple former informants who acknowledge being paid with cigarettes. Hmm, I wonder where those came from.

It's truly remarkable how often the soldiers in the war on drugs can be found committing worse crimes than the people they're investigating.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

This week, we have some drug cops whose misbehavior may not reach the standard of corruption, but is certainly worth noting. And then we have the usual corrupt cops. Let's get to it:

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too much drug cash can corrupt cops
In Orlando, Florida, Orange County Sheriff's Office narcs are under investigation for allegedly failing to turn up for drug searches after drinking cocktails for lunch as supervisors watched. The Sheriff's Office has confirmed it is investigating at least a half-dozen officers, including at least two sergeants, and there could be a "pattern" of bad behavior in the unit. The unit was already under fire after drug cases had to be dropped because officers got caught lying. This latest investigation came as a result of yet another investigation, this one of one of the narcotics sergeants involved and some missing evidence.

In Manitowoc, Wisconsin, a Manitowoc DARE officer was arrested March 2 for driving while intoxicated. Officer Michaelyn Culligan, 40, was arrested after the car she was driving got stuck in snow bank. Culligan has resigned from her DARE position, but is still on the force pending the outcome of an internal investigation.

In New York City, a New York prison guard was arrested March 4 after being caught with 15 kilograms of cocaine. Officer Edinson Rosales, 29, was ensnared in a sting operation by the DEA, NYPD, and Department of Corrections investigators, and agreed to carry the cocaine to Detroit for $15,000. He was to return from Motor City with $400,000 in cash proceeds from the sale of the cocaine, for which he was to have earned another $5,000. Now he faces charges of criminal possession of a controlled substance and eight to 20 years in state prison.

In Boston, an MIT police officer was arrested Saturday upon taking possession of a Fedex package containing 340 OxyContin tablets. Fedex workers had become suspicious of the package and notified police it contained a large quantity of prescription drugs. Officer Joseph D'Amelio was in uniform and driving an MIT police cruiser when he went to pick up the pills -- and Boston police were waiting for him. He is now charged with trafficking more than a hundred grams of OxyContin, for which he faces a mandatory minimum 10-year prison sentence if convicted.

In New York City, a former Customs and Border Protection supervisor at JFK International Airport pleaded guilty March 12 to charges relating to bribery and drug importation. Walter Golembiowksi, 66, was arrested during a long-term investigation into the trafficking of large quantities of hashish, other drugs, and other contraband into the US through JFK. The feds seized more than 600 pounds of hash and arrested 60 people involved in the ring. Golembiowski was caught on tape on multiple occasions accepting bribes from co-conspirators to allow illegal drugs and counterfeit goods to pass through Customs without inspection. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to import narcotics, conspiracy to commit bribery, and conspiracy to commit bribery during an undercover sting operation (who knew?). He's looking at up to 50 years in prison.

Asset Forfeiture: Highway Robbery in Texas

Police in small town Tenaha, Texas, near the Louisiana line, have found a way of turning law enforcement into a lucrative racket. According to a recently filed federal lawsuit, police there routinely stopped passing motorists -- the vast majority of them black -- and threatened them with felony arrests on charges such as money laundering unless they agreed to sign over their property on the spot.

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teaching evil: US Dept. of Justice assets forfeiture program logo
More than 140 people accepted that Hobson's choice between June 2006 and June 2008, according to court records cited by the Chicago Tribune, which ran a lengthy article on the practice this week. Among them was a black grandmother who handed over $4,000 in cash and an interracial couple from Houston who handed over $6,000 in cash after police threatened to arrest them and send their children to foster care. Neither the couple nor the grandmother were charged with any crime.

The waiver form that the couple signed giving up their rights is particularly chilling. "We agree that this case may be taken up and considered by the Court without further notice to us during this proceeding. In exchange for this agreement, no criminal charges shall be filed on either of us as a result of this case, and our children shall not be turned over to CPS."

Officials in Tenaha, which sits on a heavily traveled highway between Houston and popular gambling destinations in Louisiana, said they were fighting drug trafficking and were operating in accord with state asset forfeiture law, which allows local police agencies to keep drug money and other goods used in the commission of a crime.

"We try to enforce the law here," said George Bowers, mayor of the town of 1,046 residents, where boarded-up businesses outnumber open ones and City Hall sports a broken window. "We're not doing this to raise money. That's all I'm going to say at this point," he told the Tribune.

But civil rights attorneys said what Tenaha was doing amounted to highway robbery and filed a federal class action law suit to halt the practice. Tenaha officials "have developed an illegal 'stop and seize' practice of targeting, stopping, detaining, searching and often seizing property from apparently non-white citizens and those traveling with non-white citizens," according to the lawsuit, which was filed in US District Court in the Eastern District of Texas.

One of the attorneys involved, David Guillory of Nacogdoches, told the Tribune he combed through county court records and found nearly 200 cases where Tenaha police had seized cash and property from motorists. In only 50 of those cases were drug charges filed. But that didn't stop police from seizing cash, jewelry, cell phones, and even cars from motorists not found with contraband or charged with any crime.

The practice was so routine in Tenaha that Guillory was able to find pre-signed and pre-notarized police affidavits, lacking only the description of the "contraband" to be seized.

"The whole thing is disproportionately targeted toward minorities, particularly African-Americans," Guillory said. "None of these people have been charged with a crime, none were engaged in anything that looked criminal. The sole factor is that they had something that looked valuable."

It's not just Tenaha, and it's not just blacks. Hispanics in Texas allege they are the victims of discriminatory highway stops and seizures, too. The practice is especially prevalent on the handful of US highways heading south from the I-10 corridor toward Mexico.

One prominent state legislator, Sen. John Whitmire, chair of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee, said police across the state are increasingly relying on seizures to fund their operating budgets. "If used properly, it's a good law-enforcement tool to see that crime doesn't pay," said Whitmire. "But in this instance, where people are being pulled over and their property is taken with no charges filed and no convictions, I think that's theft."

Whitmire said the problem extends beyond Tenaha, and he's going to do something about it. On Monday, he filed a bill that would require police to go before a judge before attempting to seize property under the asset forfeiture laws. Ultimately, he said, he is looking for a law that allows police to seize property only after a suspect is charged and convicted in court.

"The law has gotten away from what was intended, which was to take the profits of a bad guy's crime spree and use it for additional crime-fighting," Whitmire said. "Now it's largely being used to pay police salaries -- and it's being abused because you don't even have to be a bad guy to lose your property."

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

From murder most foul to ripping off Crimestoppers, our corrupt cops run the gamut this week. Let's get to it:

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evidence locker
In New York City, a former NYPD narc who resigned last year in the face of corruption charges was arrested Monday in the shooting death of his ex-girlfriend. Former officer Jerry Bowens, 43, was one of five officers arrested last year in a scandal in which they were accused of taking drugs and cash they had seized and using it to pay a confidential informant. After those arrests, the Brooklyn District Attorney's Office dismissed charges or vacated convictions in 183 cases involving those officers. That investigation is continuing, but probably now means little to Bowens, who is facing a murder charge.

In Philadelphia, a jailed former Philadelphia police officer was charged March 3 with plotting from his jail cell to assault two suspected drug dealers he believed were cooperating with authorities against him. Former officer Malik Snell is in federal detention awaiting retrial on charges he participated in an attempted robbery of a drug house and ripped off other drug dealers. He is now accused of threatening "to inflict bodily injury" on the two men he suspected were government witnesses. He also is accused of stealing $40,000 in cash at gunpoint from one of the men.

In Vivian, Louisiana, a Vivian police officer was arrested last Friday on charges he bought a stolen gun on the street and sold it back to a drug dealer when he found out it was stolen. Officer James Arthur, 34, went down after one of four rifles reported stolen in nearby Shreveport in March 2008 turned up in a drug raid in November. The Caddo Parish Sheriff's Department investigated and found out that Arthur had bought the gun, a Bushmaster XM15 assault rifle worth $1,250, for $300 on the street, but had then resold it to a "known drug dealer" after checking a national firearms registry and seeing it listed as stolen.

In Erie, Pennsylvania, a former Erie police lieutenant was sentenced March 4 for repeatedly stealing cocaine from the department evidence locker. Robert Liebel, 47, had pleaded guilty in January to nine misdemeanors for the 2007 and 2008 thefts. He was sentenced to at least 77 days in prison and between nine and 22 months on house arrest, plus three years probation. Liebel admitted stealing the coke for his personal use.

In Lebanon, Ohio, a Warren Correctional Institution guard was charged March 5 with trying to sneak 200 grams of marijuana into the prison. Guard Stephen Howard, 49, was arrested two days earlier after being caught trying to smuggle the dope inside hollowed-out markers and a Subway sandwich. He faces charges of attempting to convey drugs onto the grounds of a detention facility and possession of criminal tools, both felonies.

In Jacksonville, Florida, a Jacksonville Police narcotics detective was fired Wednesday over his role in a Crimestoppers hot-line scam. Detective James Narcise was accused of providing inside information on the location of criminals to a female friend, who would then use it to collect the reward money. The department apparently took that offense more seriously than his fatal shooting of an 80-year-old man during a drug sting in 2007. He was cleared of any wrongdoing in that case.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

It's jail and prison guards gone wild this week, and a veteran California cop whose pill problem got the best of him. Let's get to it:

In Bangor, Maine, a former Penobscot County jail guard was sentenced Tuesday to six months in jail for smuggling marijuana and prescription drugs into the jail for prisoners. Lori Call pleaded guilty to two counts of trafficking in prison contraband. She also faces two years probation, random drug tests, and substance abuse counseling.

In New York City, a guard at the Sing Sing state prison was indicted Monday for accepting cash and cocaine from an undercover agent. Ashley Harris, 47, was arrested February 19 at a Bronx gas station after taking $500 and eight ounces of cocaine from the agent, who was posing as a drug dealer. Harris was indicted on six counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance, which prosecutors said was destined for the prison. His arrest was the culmination of a three-month sting by state narcs and the Department of Correctional Services.

In Kingston, New York, an Ulster Country Jail guard was arrested last Friday on charges he trafficked drugs at the jail. Guard Peter Portalatin, 23, went down after investigators determined he had smuggled heroin, Oxycontin, marijuana, and tobacco into the jail and set him up in a sting. He now faces charges of bribe receiving in the second degree, attempted criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree, receiving reward for official misconduct in the second degree, attempted promoting prison contraband in the first degree and tampering with physical evidence, all felonies. He was also charged with official misconduct and resisting arrest, both misdemeanors. He returned to the county jail as a prisoner until he makes his $10,000 cash bail. Oh, and he's now a former jail guard. He was fired the same day he was arrested.

In Texarkana, Arkansas, a former Miller County jail guard was sentenced February 26 to a whopping 28 years in prison for smuggling contraband hidden in food items to inmates. Jordan Michael Waller, 26, carried tacos, pizzas, and chili to work with him and used the food to hide cell phones, chargers, methamphetamine, marijuana, syringes, tobacco, and rolling papers. Family members testified that Waller suffered from paranoid schizophrenia, but that it was manageable with medication.

In Alameda, California, an Alameda police officer was arrested February 26 for visiting the residence of a terminally ill person and telling the family police provided medication disposal services, but keeping the pills for his own use. It did not appear to be an isolated incident, said police commanders. Sgt. Ronald Jones, a 26-year-year veteran of the department, was charged with two felony counts of using fraud, deceit or misrepresentation to obtain a controlled substance. He is on administrative leave.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

A pair of cops turned thugs in St. Louis are jeopardizing a pile of drug convictions, a cop turned thug in Dallas will stay behind bars until trial, a Customs and Border Patrol officer heads to prison, and a Massachusetts town still can't find pot that went missing from its police department half a decade ago -- but it's trying. Let's get to it:

In Los Angeles, a former Customs and Border Patrol officer was sentenced last Friday to seven years in federal prison for conspiring to smuggle marijuana and illegal immigrants across the border. Former officer Luis Francisco Alarid, 32, also forfeited $175,000 in bribes he had received for his efforts. He pleaded guilty in November to conspiring to smuggle more than 100 kilograms of marijuana and bribery. Court documents reveal that Alarid allowed several vehicles containing contraband to cross the border unmolested during his seven-month tenure at the Otay Mesa border crossing, including a minivan loaded with 260 pounds of pot and four illegal immigrants. He went down in May, when the Border Corruption Task Force caught him trying to admit vehicles containing undocumented immigrants and 23 pounds of pot.

In Dallas, a former Dallas County sheriff's deputy will remain behind bars pending trial for allegedly stealing cocaine from a man he thought was a South Texas drug trafficker, but who was really an undercover officer. The judge in the case made the bail decision February 19 after watching a video of former deputy Standric Choice, 36, doing the rip-off at a local truck stop. Choice faces charges of engaging in a drug conspiracy while wearing his weapon. Choice was one of three men charged in the scheme. One pleaded guilty February 17, another has pleaded not guilty. Choice's trial date is April 13.

In Dracut, Massachusetts, the Dracut Police Department is still trying to figure out who got away with $80,000 worth of marijuana in 2003. The pot was stored in a padlocked outdoor storage locker at the back of the police station when it vanished more than five and a half years ago. Investigations by then Middlesex County DA Martha Coakley (now Massachusetts attorney general) and the State Police in 2003 and by Coakley's replacement, Gerry Leone, in 2007 didn't come up with enough evidence to arrest anyone. Now city selectmen have begun a third investigation, calling in the North Eastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council, which conducts investigations of local departments if invited. Lie detector tests of police officers began in December. But the clock is ticking; the statute of limitations on prosecuting the crime will run out in a few weeks.

In St. Louis, more than a thousand drug convictions are under review because of corruption cases filed against two St. Louis police officers in December. Officers Bobby Lee Garrett, 48, and Vincent Carr, 46, were arrested by the FBI and accused of stealing thousands of dollars from a drug dealer, planting money, drugs, and a gun, and covering it all up. Carr pleaded guilty February 13, while Garrett is pleading not guilty. The cases against Garrett and Carr have already caused St. Louis prosecutors to drop 47 cases, and they are reviewing another 986 convictions to see whether the pair played a significant role in them. Federal prosecutors have already "put the brakes on" three cases before charges were filed and are reviewing another 45 to 50 more.

Law Enforcement: Belated Justice for Kathryn Johnston as Judge Sentences Atlanta Narcs Who Killed Her to Prison

A federal judge in Atlanta Tuesday sent three former Atlanta narcotics officers to prison for their roles in a misbegotten drug raid that ended in the death of a 92-year-old woman and shone a disturbing light on police practices in the Atlanta police drug squad. The victim, Kathryn Johnston, was killed when the three officers fired 39 rounds at her after she fired one shot at them as they were breaking down her door on a bogus drug raid.

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Kathryn Johnston
US District Court Judge Julie Carnes sentenced former officer Arthur Tesler to five years in prison, Gregg Junnier to six years, and Jason Smith to 10 years. All three sentences were less than those called for by federal sentencing guidelines.

Johnston was killed about 7 p.m. on November 21, 2006. Three hours earlier, Tesler arrested and roughed-up a small-time drug dealer named Fabian Sheats and threatened to send him to prison unless he gave up another drug dealer. Sheats eventually pointed out Johnston's home, apparently at random, telling Tesler and his partners he saw a dealer named "Sam" with a kilo of cocaine there.

The three officers wanted to make a buy, but didn't consider Sheats reliable, so they called an informant named Alex White to come make the buy. But White was unavailable, so the trio simply wrote a false affidavit saying they had watched White make a cocaine buy at Johnston's home. Shortly before 6:00 p.m., they had their no-knock search warrant. An hour later, Johnston was dead after firing upon the intruders she apparently thought were robbers.

Then the cover-up kicked in, with the trio creating more false documents to hide the truth. But their cover-up fell apart when their informant, Alex White, grew frightened and went to the FBI.

In her sentencing statement, Judge Carnes criticized the Atlanta Police Department for its performance quotas for search warrants and arrests, saying the "pressures brought to bear did have an impact on these and other officers on the force." If anything good came from Johnston's death, it will be "a renewed effort by the Atlanta Police Department to prevent something like this from ever happening again," Carnes said. "It is my fervent hope the APD will take to heart what has happened here," the judge said.

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