Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

An Indiana drug task force faces some questions over seized goods, the NYPD can't find some drug evidence, a Texas crime lab tech gets greedy, and so does an Indiana cop. Let's get to it:

In Muncie, Indiana, the Muncie-Delaware County Drug Task Force is under investigation for its asset forfeiture practices. Since at least 1999, the task force has violated a state law requiring that seized assets be deposited in the general fund of the entity under which the task force operates and then transferred to the state of Indiana to be used for education spending. The task force did deposit seized cash in a pair of Muncie general fund accounts, but those accounts were specifically for the task force, state auditors found. Auditors also found that the task force had illegally spent some of the money on charitable donations, as well as a state of the art gym for police. The controversy has sparked some remarkably frank talk from police defending the task force. "The DTF can't survive without dope dealers' money," said Muncie Police Sgt. Jesse Neal said. Because of reductions in federal Byrne grants in recent years, the task force relies heavily on seizures, he said. "We've had to make adjustments, be more aggressive with asset forfeitures, more aggressive targeting bank accounts, vehicles, tangible property, things we can sell in auctions," Neal said. "The money goes for equipment essential to running a drug task force -- vehicles, cell phones, recording devices, guns and vests for the SWAT team, drug dogs."

In New York City, all the drugs seized as evidence in Brooklyn one day in 2006 can't be found. The missing evidence came to light when prosecutors last year called the NYPD lab for drug test results in one case and the drugs couldn't be found. That led to the discovery that none of the drugs seized in 43 cases on October 20, 2006 could be found. Despite a year-long inquiry, officials still cannot say whether the missing drugs were stolen, lost, or thrown away. The drugs were gathered by a police courier who visited Brooklyn precincts on a daily basis to gather up evidence and take it to the lab. According to investigators, the drug evidence indeed made it to the lab, but then seems to have vanished. The investigation continues.

In Houston, a former Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) technician pleaded guilty Monday to charges he stole cocaine from the DPS crime lab in Jersey Village and resold it over a period of several years. Former DPS tech Jesus Hinojosa, Jr. pleaded guilty to two counts of possession of more than 400 grams of cocaine with intent to deliver. He faces from 15 years to life in prison. Hinojosa went down in February after a peer review of the lab showed that at least 26 kilos of cocaine had been replaced by decoy bricks over the years. One of Hinojosa's co-defendants, Roberto Reynoso, also pleaded guilty today. Reynoso would line up buyers for the stolen cocaine, selling it to them for $11,000 a kilo, well under the going price. Reynoso would keep $1,000 while giving $10,000 back to Hinojosa.

In South Bend, Indiana, a former South Bend police officer has been sentenced to six years in federal prison for extorting drugs and money from a motorist during a traffic stop. Former officer Haven Freeman, 32, pleaded guilty in September to charges of using his official position to unlawfully demand property and to possession of heroin with the intent to distribute. In his plea agreement, Freeman admitted that he stopped a drug supplier's van in summer 2005 after a drug dealer told him it might be carrying a large amount of cash. He displayed his gun and took the supplier's cash and drugs, telling the occupants he would not arrest them if they cooperated.

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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egads! always appalled by cops sleeziness -- like reading this

keep us informed!

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