Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

In New York City, the Brooklyn South Narcotics Squad is again under investigation, this time after two undercover cops were taped referring to blacks as "niggers" and a third generated large numbers of civilian complaints. The foul-mouthed narcs, who posed as drug users for buy-and-bust operations in Coney Island, were chatting with each other and not assuming undercover personas when they made the remarks. They are now on desk duty pending further investigation. The third officer, a plainclothes detective also working the drug squad, was put on desk duty last month for receiving a high number of complaints from the Civilian Complaint Review Board. This is just the latest problem for Brooklyn South. Last year, 40 sergeants and lieutenants in the Brooklyn South vice squad were transferred after a handful of cops stole high-end electronics during raids on gambling dens and clubs and placed them in the station house. Three more Brooklyn South officers are accused of breaking into a massage parlor they had raided to steal surveillance tapes that may have cleared suspects. Four years ago, 26 detectives with the Narcotics Squad were demoted to patrolman after they were caught in an overtime scam, and that same year, a female lieutenant sued her narc supervisors for sexual harassment. The beat goes on.

In Santa Fe, New Mexico, the Santa Fe police drug squad is back in business after operations had been suspended for a year while federal investigators looked into the department's narcotics and burglary division. Police Chief Eric Johnson stopped all city narcotics investigations in November 2006, when the FBI informed him of their investigation. It has so far resulted in the arrests of Sgt. Steve Altonji and Det. Danny Ramirez, who are accused of stealing money from drug dealers. Now, Chief Johnson says two Santa Fe officers have been assigned to the Region Three Narcotics Task Force, and they have already conducted their first undercover sting at a local park.

In Boston, a former Boston police officer was sentenced to 13 years in federal prison December 12 for protecting a cocaine shipment for what he thought were Miami drug dealers but who turned out to be undercover federal agents. Former Officer Carlos Pizarro, 37, was one of three Boston cops arrested last year after going to Miami to collect $35,000 from the "dealers" to escort a truck they thought was carrying 100 kilos of cocaine. Pizarro, and the other two cops, Roberto Pulido and Nelson Carraquillo, had all pleaded guilty to conspiracy and attempted possession with intent to distribute cocaine. Pizarro is the first to be sentenced.

In Daytona Beach, Florida, a Daytona Beach police officer was arrested Saturday after being caught stealing cash and drug paraphernalia left as bait by investigators. Robert Rush, 29, a Crime Suppression Team member, is charged with official misconduct. Daytona Beach Police said they acted after repeated citizens' complaints about Rush. On December 13, they put $90 and a crack pipe in a van and set Rush and his partner to investigate for drug sales activity. As investigators watched, Rush returned to the station and entered the crack pipe as evidence, but never admitted to seeing or taking the cash. When he left duty, other officers pulled him over and found the $90, which he claimed he just forget to tag. He was suspended on Saturday and fired this Wednesday.

In Austin, Minnesota, an Austin police captain was arrested Monday for stealing two prescription pill bottles of Oxycontin filed as evidence. Captain Curt Rude has admitted to taking the pill bottles and now faces charges of felony theft, felony 5th degree drug crime and gross misdemeanor interference with property in official custody. He was placed on administrative leave last month, after the theft was first reported. He is currently on paid administrative leave. Rude faces up to 10 years in prison on the theft count and five years on the drug count. [Ed: Corruption or desperation?]

In Zanesville, Ohio, a Zanesville police officer was among five people arrested on drug charges December 12. Officer Donald Peterson, 53, is accused of arranging cocaine deals and selling prescription drugs, some of which he confiscated during traffic stops, while in uniform. According to a criminal complaint unsealed the following day, Peterson said there were others in the department who could provide him with prescription drugs. He went down thanks to a "cooperating informant," who said Peterson arranged for him to buy eight $20 bags of crack on one occasion, sold him six morphine tablets and two painkillers on another, and offered to pay him in drugs if he would baby sit Peterson's children on yet another. Peterson wife, Serritha, 29, was also arrested on charges she sold morphine tablets and other painkillers to the informant. All five arrested are charged with distribution of a controlled substance and conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance and each faces up to 40 years in prison if convicted. Peterson's downfall came in the wake of the October arrest of Zanesville officers Sean Beck and Trevor Fusner, who were plotting a fake police raid to steal a cocaine shipment. During the investigation of that pair, Peterson's name came to light.

In Longview, Texas, a Gregg County jail guard was arrested Monday for bringing illegal drugs into the North jail facility. Eric Sanders, 21, is accused of delivering contraband to jail inmates and has now become one himself, at the main Gregg County Jail. He is charged with having a prohibited substance in a correctional facility, a third-degree felony. He has also been fired. No word on just what drug it was.

In La Grange, Kentucky, a Texas Department of Corrections guard was arrested December 15 and charged with bringing marijuana, alcohol, a pornographic DVD, and tobacco into the Roederer Correctional Complex in La Grange. Guard Joshua Bertholf, 26, faces two counts of first-degree promoting contraband for the pot and booze and two counts of 2nd-degree promoting contraband for the porn and smokes. He has now been demoted from working at the state prison to residing at the Oldham County Detention Center.

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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