Just another week of drug prohibition-related law enforcement corruption. An NYPD cop gets caught with a stash in her undies drawer, an Ohio cop has some bad hits, more prison guards get greedy, and a former St. Paul cop goes to prison.
But before we get to it, we need to make a couple of corrections. Last week, we briefly included a former Wisconsin prosecutor who got busted with marijuana and grow equipment in our hall of shame. We shouldn't have. He was a prosecutor long, long ago and for only a brief period, and while he was charged with manufacture and delivery of marijuana, it's not clear that he was dealing. Our apologies to Gene Radcliffe.
More than a year ago, we included Arizona attorney William Reckling in the list of law enforcement bad boys. We shouldn't have. We saw him as a hypocritical prosecutor who used drugs himself, but that's not the case. After belatedly coming across our article, Reckling wrote to clarify that he was a city attorney, who, unlike district or county attorneys, don't prosecutions. Furthermore, Reckling wrote, he shares our views on the cruelty and futility of the drug war, and his experience getting busted has so soured him on his homeland that he is leaving for the more freedom-loving climes of Central America. Good luck to him.
The weekly rundown of corrupt cops is supposed to be just that. Sometimes it's pretty clear cut; sometimes it's more subjective. We don't generally include police who get caught using or possessing drugs. While people who arrest people for doing the same thing they do in their spare time may qualify as hypocrites, that doesn't make them corrupt. Where do you draw the line? This week, we include the Ohio cop who has so far only been arrested on possession charges on the basis of claims in the search warrant that he was dealing. At this point, that cop is a borderline case. Now, if we run into a judge or prosecutor who is persecuting drug offenders during the night but snorting lines at home, we'll probably include him too, just because of the unmitigated hypocrisy of it. I guess we hold them to a slightly higher standard than police and prison guards. These are judgment calls, but that's the way we've tried to make them so far. Okay, let's get to it:
In New York City, an NYPD rookie officer was arrested March 15 after police executing a search warrant on her home found a large stash of drugs in her underwear drawer. Officer Carolina Salgado, 30, was arrested after a month-long probe of drug sales near the home she shared with her boyfriend, Nelson Fernandez, a reputed Latin Kings gang member. During the search of her home, police found 150 small bags of marijuana, two bags of cocaine, $3,000, and a bunch of Latin Kings paraphernalia. Although Salgado and Fernandez were not home at the time, police found them in a car nearby. In the car, police found another 15 bags of pot and two more bags of cocaine. Salgado faces counts of endangering the welfare of a child (three children with no adults present were at the home when it was raided) and drug possession.
In Toledo, Ohio, a Toledo police officer was arrested Saturday on drug possession and related charges. Officer Bryan Traband, 36, and another man were arrested at Traband's home after police serving a search warrant found cocaine and marijuana. According to the search warrant, police received two confidential tips last month that Traband was involved in selling and using drugs, but authorities so far have only charged him with possession of cocaine, marijuana, and drug paraphernalia and permitting drug abuse. The 13-year veteran of the force has resigned and is now out on a personal recognizance bond.
In Amite, Louisiana, a Tangapahoa Parish sheriff's deputy serving as a county jail guard was arrested March 15 after agreeing to smuggle crack cocaine and vodka to an inmate. According to federal officials, Deputy Harris Robertson has confessed to smuggling banned items into the jail at least 10 times since September and receiving from $100 to $300 per delivery. Robertson went down after someone called in a tip that he was delivering drugs, alcohol, cell phones and food to prisoners, and the feds set up a sting. An agent posing as an inmate's friend gave Robertson 15 grams of crack, two bottles of Grey Goose vodka, and $300 for his efforts. Robertson was arrested after accepting the goods and cash. Now he faces up to 40 years in prison on federal possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine charges.
In Sacramento, California, a former state prison guard pleaded guilty last Friday to smuggling methamphetamine into a prison in Amador County. John Charles Whittle, 47, a 22-year veteran of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, went down after internal affairs investigators intercepted a package mailed to Whittle's home and found it contained 10 grams of meth hidden inside a teddy bear. When agents arrived, Whittle had already removed the meth and secreted it in a stab-resistant prison guard vest. Whittle admitted that he was paid $5,150 by friends of inmates to smuggle drugs into the Mule Creek State Prison. He agreed to forfeit his profits and now awaits an April 19 sentencing date, when he faces up to two years in prison.
In St. Paul, Minnesota, a retired St. Paul police sergeant was sentenced to five years in prison last Friday on methamphetamine trafficking charges. Retired Sgt. Clemmie Tucker could have faced up to life in prison after he was caught picking up a meth shipment at the Greyhound Bus terminal in Minneapolis. He pleaded guilty in September to possession with the intent to distribute more than a pound of meth. US District Judge Joan Ericksen said she was going to give Tucker a "substantial break" in sentencing because he had no prior record and little likelihood of reoffending, but gave him a few years "because drugs are so harmful."