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Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Just another week of drug prohibition-related law enforcement corruption. An NYPD cop gets caught with a stash in her undies drawer, an Ohio cop has some bad hits, more prison guards get greedy, and a former St. Paul cop goes to prison.

But before we get to it, we need to make a couple of corrections. Last week, we briefly included a former Wisconsin prosecutor who got busted with marijuana and grow equipment in our hall of shame. We shouldn't have. He was a prosecutor long, long ago and for only a brief period, and while he was charged with manufacture and delivery of marijuana, it's not clear that he was dealing. Our apologies to Gene Radcliffe.

More than a year ago, we included Arizona attorney William Reckling in the list of law enforcement bad boys. We shouldn't have. We saw him as a hypocritical prosecutor who used drugs himself, but that's not the case. After belatedly coming across our article, Reckling wrote to clarify that he was a city attorney, who, unlike district or county attorneys, don't prosecutions. Furthermore, Reckling wrote, he shares our views on the cruelty and futility of the drug war, and his experience getting busted has so soured him on his homeland that he is leaving for the more freedom-loving climes of Central America. Good luck to him.

The weekly rundown of corrupt cops is supposed to be just that. Sometimes it's pretty clear cut; sometimes it's more subjective. We don't generally include police who get caught using or possessing drugs. While people who arrest people for doing the same thing they do in their spare time may qualify as hypocrites, that doesn't make them corrupt. Where do you draw the line? This week, we include the Ohio cop who has so far only been arrested on possession charges on the basis of claims in the search warrant that he was dealing. At this point, that cop is a borderline case. Now, if we run into a judge or prosecutor who is persecuting drug offenders during the night but snorting lines at home, we'll probably include him too, just because of the unmitigated hypocrisy of it. I guess we hold them to a slightly higher standard than police and prison guards. These are judgment calls, but that's the way we've tried to make them so far. Okay, let's get to it:

In New York City, an NYPD rookie officer was arrested March 15 after police executing a search warrant on her home found a large stash of drugs in her underwear drawer. Officer Carolina Salgado, 30, was arrested after a month-long probe of drug sales near the home she shared with her boyfriend, Nelson Fernandez, a reputed Latin Kings gang member. During the search of her home, police found 150 small bags of marijuana, two bags of cocaine, $3,000, and a bunch of Latin Kings paraphernalia. Although Salgado and Fernandez were not home at the time, police found them in a car nearby. In the car, police found another 15 bags of pot and two more bags of cocaine. Salgado faces counts of endangering the welfare of a child (three children with no adults present were at the home when it was raided) and drug possession.

In Toledo, Ohio, a Toledo police officer was arrested Saturday on drug possession and related charges. Officer Bryan Traband, 36, and another man were arrested at Traband's home after police serving a search warrant found cocaine and marijuana. According to the search warrant, police received two confidential tips last month that Traband was involved in selling and using drugs, but authorities so far have only charged him with possession of cocaine, marijuana, and drug paraphernalia and permitting drug abuse. The 13-year veteran of the force has resigned and is now out on a personal recognizance bond.

In Amite, Louisiana, a Tangapahoa Parish sheriff's deputy serving as a county jail guard was arrested March 15 after agreeing to smuggle crack cocaine and vodka to an inmate. According to federal officials, Deputy Harris Robertson has confessed to smuggling banned items into the jail at least 10 times since September and receiving from $100 to $300 per delivery. Robertson went down after someone called in a tip that he was delivering drugs, alcohol, cell phones and food to prisoners, and the feds set up a sting. An agent posing as an inmate's friend gave Robertson 15 grams of crack, two bottles of Grey Goose vodka, and $300 for his efforts. Robertson was arrested after accepting the goods and cash. Now he faces up to 40 years in prison on federal possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine charges.

In Sacramento, California, a former state prison guard pleaded guilty last Friday to smuggling methamphetamine into a prison in Amador County. John Charles Whittle, 47, a 22-year veteran of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, went down after internal affairs investigators intercepted a package mailed to Whittle's home and found it contained 10 grams of meth hidden inside a teddy bear. When agents arrived, Whittle had already removed the meth and secreted it in a stab-resistant prison guard vest. Whittle admitted that he was paid $5,150 by friends of inmates to smuggle drugs into the Mule Creek State Prison. He agreed to forfeit his profits and now awaits an April 19 sentencing date, when he faces up to two years in prison.

In St. Paul, Minnesota, a retired St. Paul police sergeant was sentenced to five years in prison last Friday on methamphetamine trafficking charges. Retired Sgt. Clemmie Tucker could have faced up to life in prison after he was caught picking up a meth shipment at the Greyhound Bus terminal in Minneapolis. He pleaded guilty in September to possession with the intent to distribute more than a pound of meth. US District Judge Joan Ericksen said she was going to give Tucker a "substantial break" in sentencing because he had no prior record and little likelihood of reoffending, but gave him a few years "because drugs are so harmful."

Drugs said involved in Guatemala deaths

Location: 
Guatemala City
Guatemala
Publication/Source: 
Angola Press
URL: 
http://www.angolapress-angop.ao/noticia-e.asp?ID=517554

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

An Oregon parole officer, a former Wisconsin prosecutor, a Houston crime lab tech, and a pair of New Haven narcs have all crossed over to the dark side this week. Let's get to it:

In New Haven, Connecticut, the city's top narc was arrested Tuesday on charges he stole thousands of dollars on the job. Lt. William White, head of the New Haven Police Department Narcotics Division, was arrested by the FBI after it caught him on video transferring $27,000 in department cash to his car. White is charged with theft of government funds and criminal conspiracy. Also arrested was narcotics Det. Justen Kasperzyk, who was charged with stealing less than $1,000, and three local bail bondsmen, who are charged with bribing White and other police officers to recapture fugitives they were seeking. On Wednesday, New Haven police announced they were disbanding the narcotics unit.

In Houston, a former Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) lab technician was arrested last month on charges he stole more than 50 pounds of cocaine from the agency's Houston crime lab and sold it over a five-year period. Technician Jesus Hinojosa, 30, smuggled the stuff out a brick at a time, selling them for $11,000 to $13,000 each, according to authorities. In all, a DPS investigation has found 57 pounds of cocaine missing from the lab. Internal DPS audit reports show that the agency was aware of security breaches at the lab since 2003. Hinojosa is charged with possession of cocaine with intent to distribute and is jailed on a $1 million bond.

In Portland, Oregon, a Multnomah County parole supervisor has resigned after admitting to stealing marijuana from a department property room and smoking it in front of coworkers at a holiday party. Shadman Afzal, 43, had been on leave since the December 9 party at his house, where he began hitting on a joint in front of his fellow parole officers. One of them recognized the container the weed came in as having been seized earlier and logged in at the department's north office. No criminal charges have been filed. Although Azfal hasn't worked since December and officially resigned in January, he is using up vacation time until March 19.

Afghan official served time for selling drugs

Location: 
Kabul
Afghanistan
Publication/Source: 
The Kansas City Star
URL: 
http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascity/news/16864371.htm

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Our "This Week's Corrupt Cops" feature may have been on hiatus while your editor was down South America way, but it's been pretty much business as usual. We're back now, and here's this week's edition with the usual cast of crooked cops and greedy guards. Let's get to it:

In Randolph County, North Carolina, a juvenile detention supervisor has been indicted on federal cocaine trafficking charges. James Ledwell, 37, who spent the last nine years teaching young people about the dangers of drugs, was arrested February 28 on federal charges. The indictment came three weeks after Ledwell was busted trying to sell more than a half-pound of coke to a Greensboro police officer.

In Hollywood, Florida, a veteran detective has surrendered after being charged along with three other officers in a sting where they thought they were protecting mob shipments of drugs and stolen art, diamonds, and watches. Hollywood Detective Thomas Simcox, 50, surrendered to federal agents February 28 and was released later that same day on a $350,000 bond. The four officers were charged with drug trafficking and other offenses after a two-year FBI sting in which they agreed to "protect and facilitate" criminal activities for what was supposed to be a "criminal organization based out of New York." Instead, it was feds posing as mobsters. Now the cops face up to life in prison.

In Scranton, Pennsylvania, a Scranton police officer was arrested March 1 after allegedly dealing drugs while on duty. Officer Mark Conway, 36, was in uniform when Lackawanna County detectives found five Oxycontin tablets and 33 methadone tablets in his car. Conway went down after an informant told police Conway had been addicted to heroin for more than a year and the informant had scored for him numerous times. A second informant recorded a conversation with Conway in which the officer agreed to deliver Oxycontin and methadone for $780. Conway was charged with possession of methadone, possession of OxyContin, unlawful delivery of OxyContin and two counts of using a telephone for a drug transaction. He is out on $25,000 bail.

In Fishkill, New York, an Ulster County jail guard was arrested Monday after being caught with 10 ounces of cocaine. Shawn Forte, 30, faces a charge of first degree criminal possession of a controlled substance after he was stopped for "speeding" on Interstate 84 in Fishkill. According to state police, the charges stemmed from an investigation by the Ulster County Sheriff's Office and the Ulster Regional Gang Enforcement Narcotics Team. Forte was being held without bail at the Dutchess County Jail as of mid-week, and more charges could be pending.

In Beaver, Pennsylvania, an outside report has found that the Beaver County Jail is "tainted" with sex, drugs, and violence, and jail guards are involved. The report found guards having sex with prisoners, guards physically abusing prisoners, guards accused of providing drugs to prisoners, and nearly half of prisoners who had been in for at least 60 days and were tested for drugs came back positive. Beaver County Controller Richard Towcimak, who chairs the prison board, said board members were "completely disheartened" by the report, while Beaver County District Attorney Tony Berosh said he would turn it over to the state attorney general's office.

Latin America: Killing of Salvadoran Politicians By Police in Guatemala Opens Window on Drug Corruption in Central America, Killing of Killers Closes It

Four Guatemalan police officers in an anti-drug and organized crime unit who were arrested in the gruesome February 19 murders of three Salvadoran politicians were themselves killed Sunday in a brazen assassination inside the prison where they were being held. The two sets of murders are raising serious questions about drug corruption in Central America and, in particular, links between Guatemalan police and organized crime, but the deaths of the police officers means that whatever they knew will go to the grave with them.

On February 19, Salvadoran politicians William Pichinte, Eduardo D'Aubuisson and Jose Ramon Gonzalez -- all members of El Salvador's ruling Arena party -- and their driver were found shot and burned to death in their vehicle on the outskirts of Guatemala City, where they had gone to attend a regional political meeting. With D'Aubuisson being the son of the late Roberto D'Auboisson, who led right-wing death squads in El Salvador in the 1980s, early speculation was that the killings were a political assassination.

But when Luis Arturo Herrera, head of the Guatemalan police organized crime unit, and three of his subordinates were arrested in the crime three days later, various theories related to a drug hit came to the fore. According to speculation in the Central American press, the hit on the Salvadoran politicians came as corrupt Guatemalan police looked for drug money secreted in a hidden compartment in the vehicle. Another version, via Salvadoran police chief Rodrigo Avila, has it that Herrera and his men were tricked into killing the trio by unknowns who told them they were drug traffickers.

Based on GPS devices in Herrera's vehicle, which place it at the scene of the crime, he and his three subordinates were arrested and jailed at the notorious El Boqueron prison some 40 miles east of Guatemala City. On Sunday afternoon, according to eyewitness accounts from inmates' relatives who were visiting the prison, prison guards forced visitors to leave, unknown armed men entered the prison, and the sound of gunshots was heard. The four policemen were found shot to death in their cell.

"They told them [the visitors] that they had to leave because there was going to be a search, and they began pushing the visitors out," said the mother of one prisoner, whose daughter-in-law called her from outside the prison. "When they went outside, they saw armed men enter the prison. Then, when everybody was outside, they heard various gunshots," she said.

"What has happened is that they tried to shut the mouths of those subjects so that they didn't implicate other similar organizations," Salvadoran police chief Avila told reporters. The dead policemen were the victims of "police hit-men," he added. "It is obvious that the persons who committed the murders within the prison have a level of influence within the police structures, or the prison structures, or the structures of the state," Avila said.

Otto Perez Molina, former chief of Guatemalan military intelligence, was thinking along similar lines. "They killed those four because they knew too much about the criminality within the national civil police and they could have implicated the authorities." According to Perez Molina, at least two death squads are operating within Guatemalan law enforcement agencies. "These groups are operating with the complicity of the authorities," he said.

Guatemalan prison authorities Sunday attempted to obscure the circumstances of the killings by trying to tie them to an uprising in the prison that same day by members of Mara Salvatrucha, the Central American gang. But Salvatrucha members who called the press from inside the prison said they rioted after the killings out of fear of being blamed for the officers' deaths.

While the deaths of the four imprisoned police officers means the real reason behind the killings of the Salvadoran politicians may never be known, the two sets of murders are raising questions that could eventually lead to an unveiling of the dark and ugly underside of Central American organized crime and drug law enforcement.

Drug turf war advances into 'safest city in Mexico'

Location: 
San Pedro Garza Garcia
Mexico
Publication/Source: 
The Kansas City Star
URL: 
http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascity/news/world/16695933.htm

Drug-fuelled violence takes toll on Mexico

Location: 
Mexico
Publication/Source: 
Toronto Star (Canada)
URL: 
http://www.thestar.com/News/article/179501

7 slain in Mexico police stations. The two Acapulco attacks are carried out by gunmen dressed as soldiers. Authorities see a link to drug cartels.

Location: 
Acapulco, GRO
Mexico
Publication/Source: 
Los Angeles Times
URL: 
http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-mexshooting7feb07,1,241860.story?coll=la-headlines-world

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Ah, the drug war -- what a cornucopia of corruption it generates. Week in, week out, law enforcement officers fall prey to temptation. This week is no different. Let's get to it:

In New York City, a former NYPD officer was sentenced to 15 years in prison for plotting to rob a drug dealer of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Former officer Porfirio Mejia, 31, was part of a six-man group who planned to rob a man they thought was a Colombian dealer in the Bronx of 10 kilograms of heroin and $450,000 in cash. At the time of the planned robbery, Mejia was in uniform. Mejia and the others were arrested by members of the New York Drug Enforcement Task Force. He was sentenced January 31.

In Roanoke, Virginia, the Henry County Sheriff's Department implosion into corruption-related scandal continues to work its way through the courts. In the latest news, a former department dog handler and two civilians charged in the case pleaded guilty to taking part in a scheme involving the sheriff and 11 deputies to re-sell drugs seized from dealers. That makes 13 out of 20 defendants who have now copped pleas in a case where deputies are charged with peddling tens of thousands of dollars worth of seized drugs, along with stolen guns and other evidence. Department dog handler Walter Hairston pleaded guilty February 2 to one count of racketeering conspiracy. He was accused of passing along drugs he used for drug dog training to deputies who would then resell them. Former Sheriff H. Franklin Cassell, who is charged with covering up his deputies' misdeeds, is seeking to have his trial moved outside the Roanoke area.

In Youngstown, Ohio, a former Mahoning County sheriff's deputy pleaded guilty last Friday to three counts of drug trafficking and three counts of drug possession. Michael "Beef" Terlecky, 51, was caught peddling Oxycontin tablets along US Highway 224 by undercover agents, and the cops found more Oxycontin and Valium at his home. Terlecky is in ill health and had been taking post-surgery pain medications, which prosecutors said could have affected his judgment. Prosecutors will recommend a two-year prison stretch at his March 29 sentencing. His defense attorney, who argued that Terlecky sold some of the drugs to pay his medical expenses, is urging probation.

In Saranac Lake, New York, a state prison guard pleaded guilty last Friday to trying to smuggle heroin into the prison where he worked. Michael Bradish, 34, pleaded guilty to attempted promoting prison contraband and attempted criminal possession of controlled substance, plus misdemeanor official misconduct. Bradish, who worked at Bare Hill Correctional Facility in Malone, is being held without bail at Franklin County Jail. He could receive up to four years in state prison when he's sentenced in March. He was caught on videotape in September being handed 37 bundles of heroin as part of an investigation into prison contraband by the state police, the state Department of Corrections, the Inspector General, and the Franklin County District Attorney's office. Police stopped Bradish on his way to work the next day and found the drugs. Two other prison guards, Lt. Timothy Flint, 40, and Daniel Oakes, 32, face criminal charges in the probe. An unknown number of other guards have quit or been fired.

In Council Bluffs, Iowa, a prosecutor has been fired after evidence from a drug case was "mishandled." Assistant Pottawattamie County Attorney Jeff TeKippe was put on paid leave last week, but got the ax this week as an investigation by the Iowa Department of Criminal Investigation gets underway. They were called in by Council Bluffs police and County Attorney Matt Wilber after "they discovered evidence from a narcotics case appeared to have been mishandled," a terse DCI statement said. TeKippe was a 10-year veteran of the prosecutors office who handled primarily drug cases.

In Greenville, South Carolina, a former Anderson police officer has been charged with misconduct in office after making off with the evidence in drug cases. Former officer Clint Fuller, 31, was arrested Saturday for failing to log in evidence from twelve 2006 arrests he made where he seized "a green leafy substance believed to be marijuana." Some of Fuller's cases have been dismissed because of lack of evidence, others because he failed to show up for court, the department said. If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in prison.

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