Like the Energizer Bunny, the line of corrupt cops just keeps on coming. This week we have a Coast Guardsman who switched sides, a Minnesota top cop with a nasty cocaine habit, Florida deputy with the same problem, a Louisiana drug task force commander hanging out with the wrong relative, and a New Mexico jail guard using his position to gain goodies.
Before we get to it, however, it is worth pointing out the purpose of this feature. It is not to laugh at dumb, greedy cops. Drug War Chronicle does not glory in anyone being sent to prison on drug charges -- even police. Nor is our purpose to encourage law enforcement to try harder to dig out corruption among its ranks. Law enforcement needs no such encouragement; its ravenous drug war appetite can be fed by its own as well as by civilians. Nor do we suggest that someone who uses drugs recreationally is somehow unqualified to be a police officer, although we do find the notion that a police officer might arrest you for doing something he's doing at home in his spare time somewhat troubling.
This feature instead attempts to demonstrate the continuing corrosive effect of drug prohibition on law enforcement. Each police officer who falls prey to the blandishments of easy money through drug war-related corruption is both a victim and a symptom of prohibition's amoral consequences. Like the Chinese water torture, the drip drip drip of enless incidents of law enforcement corruption only serves to further lower the standing of police and illustrate the endless corruption that that drug war produces. To paraphrase an old saying, the drug war is bad enough; the drug war prosecuted by corrupt police is worse.
Now, let's get to it:
In Baltimore, a Coast Guardsman trained to intercept drug smugglers was sentenced July 9 to 17 ½ years in federal prison for orchestrating a cocaine shipment through Baltimore-Washington International Airport, the Maryland US Attorney's Office announced. Petty Officer Wendy Bens, 27, was convicted on charges of cocaine distribution, conspiracy, and related drug and weapons charges after he and another Coast Guardsman, Jonathan Louis DeCarlo, set up a drug deal. According to court records, in January 2004 Bens paid a former Coast Guardsman from Grenada to travel to Curacao and return with a suitcase packed with 5.4 pounds of cocaine. The courier was arrested by customs officers at BWI. Bens and DeCarlo, meanwhile, traveled from Boston armed and wearing Coast Guard-issue bullet-proof vests and intending to meet their courier. Instead, they met Immigration and Customs Enforcment (ICE) agents, Coast Guard personnel, and Baltimore police, who arrested them in their hotel room with the suitcase -- now filled with a fake substance designed to look like cocaine. DeCarlo was earlier sentenced to four years in prison. The courier has pleaded guilty, but has not yet been sentenced.
In St. Paul, Minnesota, former Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension supervisor David Petersen, 46, will serve a few months in prison after being convicted of stealing two pounds of cocaine from a supply locker and inserting it up his nose over a period of months. Judge Salvador Rosas sentenced him to one year in jail on July 9, but told Petersen he could get out in three to six months if he behaved himself. Rosas also handed Peterson a seven-year prison sentence, but stayed that sentence pending Petersen's completion of 30 years of probation. Minnesota sentencing guidelines called for Petersen to serve seven years, and prosecutors asked for that, but didn't get it, the Associated Press reported. Petersen got a pretty soft ride from the beginning, when prosecutors let him plead to a single count of simple drug possession.
In Plaquemine, Louisiana, the commander of the Law Enforcement Against Drugs Narcotics Task Force was arrested Tuesday on charges he was involved in a burglary at task force headquarters and then tried to set the building on fire, the Associated Press reported. Lt. Gerald Jenkins, task force commander and 20-year law enforcement veteran was charged with malfeasance in office, obstruction of justice, burglary, theft, attempted arson, attempted arson with intent to defraud, possession of cocaine with intent to distribute and placing combustible material in a structure. The charges came after an early Monday morning break-in in which cash, drugs, and a gun were stolen, office items were vandalized, and gasoline was poured throughout the offices. Investigators responding to the call saw two vehicles nearby and arrested Jenkins' cousin, Joseph Jenkins in one of them, along with items linked to the burglary. They quickly linked Lt. Jenkins to his cousin and now both are in jail.
In Albuquerque, prison guard Scott Richter, 50, was arrested July 9 on charges he took illegal kickbacks to change the result of drug tests, the Albuquerque Tribune reported. He is also accused of providing an "artificial device" to pass drug tests. And he is accused of fondling the girlfriend of one jail inmate; the charge is criminal sexual contact. Richter, an employee of the Albuquerque Metropolitan Detention Center, didn't work at the jail but in the community corrections program, where he monitored drug test results. Tipped off by someone associated with a jail inmate, the Bernalillo County (Albuquerque) Sheriff's Office investigated Richter for nine months before arresting him and charging him with five counts of soliciting or receiving bribes in exchange for clean drug test results, one count of extortion related to the complaints he solicited bribes, and the criminal sexual contact count. He was jailed on $100,000 bond and is being held in a "modified" area of the jail because of "high risk concerns about his safety," a sheriff's office spokesman said.
In Naples, Florida, Lee County Sheriff's Deputy Mark Muldoon, 27, was fired at the end of June after admitting to having a cocaine habit, the Naples News reported. Called in for a drug test after supervisors received anonymous complaints about his drug use, Muldoon 'fessed up to having used the drug, telling his superiors he would fail the drug test. He was fired the same day. Muldoon said he had been snorting for the past three years and that his intake had recently increased. A spokesman for the sheriff's office said Muldoon faces no criminal charges. Cases in which Muldoon was involved are now being reviewed by the local State Attorney's office to see if his testimony is critical. If so, some cases could be dropped.