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.