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Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #601)
Drug War Issues

More fun for the Philly narcs, a New Jersey ICE employee goes down, and a Brooklyn drug squad supervisor gets off easy. Let's get to it:

In Brooklyn, New York, the former supervisor of an NYPD narcotics team was sentenced last Friday to 160 hours community service for stealing $40 from a drug dealer and giving it to an informant who turned out to be an undercover cop. Michael Arenella was arrested in 2007 and charged with conspiring with corrupt cop Jerry Bowers, who agreed to testify against him. But Bowers flipped-out, allegedly killed his girlfriend, and wounded another woman. Bowers is doing time for the corruption case and faces trial for the attacks. Arenalla was acquitted by his trial judge of drug possession and sales charges, and has continued to deny significant involvement in a corruption scandal that put hundreds of cases against drug dealers at risk.

In Newark, New Jersey, a federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) employee was arrested last Friday after allegedly trying to steal what he thought was a 110-pound shipment of cocaine. Valentino Johnson, 25, who worked for ICE's Detention and Removal Operations, was instead busted by federal agents and a New Jersey State Police SWAT team in a sting operation. He and two codefendants are charged with conspiring to possess and distribute cocaine. They face between 10 years and life in prison. Johnston and his pals went down after one of the pals bragged to an ICE informant that the trio had been robbing drug dealers. The informant set up a meet and told Johnson a cocaine shipment would be arriving. Johnson and pals went for the bait. Now, they're in jail.

In Philadelphia, another victim of a Philadelphia police drug squad run amok has filed a federal lawsuit against the city. Jose Duran, owner of Super One Market is suing over a September 2007 raid in which members of the Narcotics Field Unit entered the store, arrested Duran for selling small plastic baggies sometimes used by drug dealers, then proceeded to take what they wanted and trash the place. Part of the raid was captured on store video cameras -- before one of the officers was seen climbing toward a camera and grabbing the wires before the screen went black. The lawsuit contends police destroyed video equipment to "cover up illegal search and seizures" and that the narcs "intentionally and maliciously destroyed property, consumed food and beverages, stole money and merchandise, and deliberately caused food and other items to spoil by their illegal search practices." Duran said $15,000 worth of video equipment was destroyed and that the narcs stole or ruined another $10,000 in cash and merchandise. The Duran case is only one of many being investigated by a joint police Internal Affairs-FBI task force after one drug officer's former snitch publicly alleged that some officers made up information to get judge's to approve search warrants. Four veteran drug officers -- Jeffrey Cujdik and his brother Richard, Robert McDonnell, and Thomas Tolstoy -- have been put on desk duty pending the outcome of the inquiry. Both Cujdiks, Tolstoy, and three other police drug officers are named as defendants in the Duran suit. Jeffrey Cujdik, McDonnell, and two others are named in a separate lawsuit.

Read last issue's corrupt cops stories here.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


BIG MARK (not verified)

Qualified Immunity......Thats what these sorry S.O.B.'s are going to plead. And the Judge will probably go for the plea. Since 911 and prior, some police have been running amok and giving a black-eye to the men and women of law enforcement that honestly serve their communities. Perhaps police should stop raiding patients and medical marijuana dispensaries and start keeping an eye on the corruption within the judicial system ?

Fri, 09/18/2009 - 7:29pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

Cops walk into a store and wreck the place, then they steal food for the munchies, pull out and destory video equipment and arrest the store owner for selling plastic bags. You tell me, are these guys cops that we want our kids to look up to, OR..... are they just crooks hiding behind a badge!

Sat, 09/19/2009 - 4:38am Permalink
attorneywatchdog (not verified)

Well, until there are more attorney watchdogs, corruption in the system will continue. I have been working alone for a few years now, and have met a lot of opposition, but have a lot of satisfaction when a case is dismissed by the evidence I have brought forth when a defendant's attorney, either appointed or retained, refuses to do his job.

Why wait until there is a miscarriage of justice when any citizen, like myself, can make a difference in their own hometown, county, and/or state? The pay is lousy, but the satisfaction, knowing the playing field was leveled for the defendant by your sole efforts, makes it valuable and worth it!

Just remember, you do not have to be a medical doctor to put a bandaid on somebody! So when you see somebody needing help, and the system refuses to provide the simplest of assistance, jump in and get started.........


Sat, 09/19/2009 - 2:34pm Permalink
Rimartinez (not verified)

Excellent point/comments. I agree that money is truly the only way to get "justice" nowadays. Never thought I'd experience it in my lifetime but I saw my mother get railroaded from every direction from the police, investigating detective, the DA, and finally her public defender. All of them just wanted to push paper and move on instead of doing some investigative work which would've clarified things. Fortunately for her, it was a minor dispute between neighbors, so nothing big came out of it, but it really opened my eyes to what can happen to people who aren't "smart" to the system we live in. I think this points to "Attorneywatchdog's" point of helping those who are in need.

Anyways, the saddest part is that corruption and self-interest are EVERYWHERE we look these days (from politicians, to police, to big business leaders, etc.) - just run down the list. Its like morals/values don't even exist (and I'm not talking about everyone going to church, etc. I'm just talking about doing the "right" thing). I sometimes wonder if its just a matter of time before all of this comes to a head and something dramatic happens, or if its just the reality of the world and either we learn to play the game, or we become servants to it. Sorry to get so philosophical here, I do hope that we either change our ways or that we destroy ourselves, for this is pathetic.

Wed, 09/23/2009 - 5:37pm Permalink

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