It's mainly good, old-fashioned larceny this week, with sticky-fingered cops in Kansas, New Mexico and Texas making the news, while a Louisiana justice of the peace was trying to earn a little on the side. Let's get right to it:
In Pointe a la Hache, Louisiana, a Plaquemine Parish justice of the peace was arrested on cocaine charges last week. Trish Buras, 26, was arrested as she he accompanied her boyfriend as he allegedly sold cocaine to undercover narcotics agents in Gretna. She is charged with conspiracy to distribute cocaine and possession of narcotics in the presence of a juvenile -- her six-month-old daughter, who was sitting in the car as the deal went down. According to the Plaquemine Parish Sheriff's Office, Buras and her boyfriend, LC Williams, 29, were suspected of dealing drugs and targeted for a sting. It was a small-time bust, though; the narcs gave Williams $200 to score, then arrested the pair when he returned with the coke.
In Topeka, Kansas, the case of former narcotics officer Tom Pfortmiller continues to reverberate. As noted earlier in this space, Pfortmiller was arrested in February on more than a hundred counts of misuse of public funds, theft, perjury, forgery and official misconduct for allegedly ripping off police drug-buy money. Then, in April, prosecutors announced they had to drop charges in a major methamphetamine case because Pfortmiller had stolen the evidence -- 4.5 pounds of speed. Now, Topeka's TV 13 News has reported that Shawnee County District Attorney Robert Hecht's investigation into the Pfortmiller case has implicated more officers and that as many as two dozen more drug cases could be dismissed as a result. Some officers have been placed on leave or reassigned, said Topeka Police Chief Eddie Klumpp. Stay tuned in Topeka.
In Albuquerque, KRQE News 13 reported July 22 that the New Mexico State Police have stolen evidence problems and police officers are the prime suspects. Among the missing items are $12,000 in cash, including $1900 seized from a Mexican national when white powder was found in his car. The powder turned out not to be dope, the Mexican was released, but his money was nowhere to be found. "Through the course of the investigation and the processing the money suddenly disappeared, it was no longer there," said State Police Chief Carlos Maldonado. "As near as we can tell, based on the evidence and based on the investigations that were conducted, an employee was responsible for taking that money." That employee was named as narcotics agent Steve Montoya. Bernalillo County prosecutors declined to press charges, but Montoya has been relieved of duty and is on administrative leave.
In Beaumont, Texas, the former head of the Orange County Sheriff's Office narcotics division pleaded guilty to felony theft July 22. Former Lt. Steve Mardis was sentenced to six years probation and fined $5,000 for trying to steal that same amount out of a cash seizure during a June 13 traffic stop. Deputies observed Mardis stuffing a wad of cash in his pants at the scene. Mardis put the money back before it was officially counted, but the damage had been done. He was fired four days later.