Tarnished badges abound this week. We've got a cop who got too high on his own brownies, missing drug evidence, a head narc busted for ripping-off drug dealers, a cop busted for taking bribes from drug dealers, a couple more cops pleading guilty to protecting drug shipments, and the requisite jail guard dealing drugs. Let's get to it:
In Dearborn, Michigan, a Dearborn police officer resigned after admitting taking marijuana from a suspect and cooking it up into pot brownies with his wife. Former Cpl. Edward Sanchez went down after he got too high on his creation and called 911 to report he was afraid he and his wife were in danger of a fatal overdose. "I think we're dying," he said in the call. "We made brownies and I think we're dead, I really do," Sanchez continued. (Listen to the call here.) During a departmental investigation after that call, Sanchez admitted taking marijuana from suspects on previous occasions. Sanchez's wife, Stacy, admitted that on another occasion she had removed enough cocaine from her husband's patrol car to go on a three-week binge. The cocaine was purportedly in the car for drug dog training. Neither has been charged with a crime.
In Schenectady, New York, a Schenectady County grand jury is looking into missing drug evidence at the Schenectady Police Department. The probe into the city's vice squad comes after a State Police investigation found crack cocaine and marijuana evidence missing in 16 drug cases. The grand jury will reportedly look at departmental procedures for storing and tracking drug evidence. In the wake of the discovery of missing drug evidence, the department has already instituted some changes, including requiring that two officers be present whenever an officer enters the drug storage area.
In Santa Fe, New Mexico, the head of the narcotics division and one other officer are accused of ripping-off a drug dealer for thousands of dollars. The head narc, Sgt. Steve Altonji, and Officer Danny Ramirez were arrested by FBI agents May 11 and face a combined 24 federal counts. The FBI alleges that Altonji and Ramirez arrested a drug dealer in May 2006 and discovered marijuana, cocaine, and $180,000 cash. They are accused of taking $5,000 for themselves. Altonji faces additional charges that he stole money from another dealer and beat up a third man, while Ramirez continues to be investigated for several large cash bank deposits. Suspicions about Altonji have been going on for months, earlier prompting Santa Fe Police Chief Eric Johnson to shut down drug investigations while the city does an internal review.
In Lake City, Florida, a Lake City police officer was charged Tuesday with taking money from a drug dealer. Lake City Police Investigator Debra Williams, a seven-year veteran of the department, has been under investigation since December for allegedly taking the cash and telling the dealer she would have drug charges against him dismissed. She has been suspended since March. Now she faces one count of misconduct in office.
In Boston, a Suffolk County jail guard was arrested May 11 for selling drugs to inmates. Kenneth Nobile, 39, was arrested as he arrived at work at the South Bay Correctional Facility, and police allegedly found seven grams of heroin and 21 grams of marijuana packaged for sale in his car. He faces various drug charges, including possession of heroin with intent to distribute. Bail was set at $25,000.
In Hollywood, Florida, two more Hollywood police officers pleaded guilty last week to protecting heroin shipments. Officer Thomas Simcox pleaded guilty May 9 and Sgt. Jeffrey Courtney pleaded guilty May 11 to a single charge of conspiracy to possess heroin with the intent to distribute for their roles in protecting heroin shipments in what was actually an FBI sting. Two other officers have already pleaded guilty in the sting, known as Operation Tarnished Badge, in which the four also provided protection for shipments of stolen guns and jewelry. All four face mandatory minimum 10-year sentences, but all are seeking reductions for cooperating with investigators investigating who leaked the fact that there was an investigation.