Bad cops pay out big in New York, a sheriff cleans house in Florida, a sticky-fingered cop gets in trouble in North Carolina, and a California cop gets caught with his fingers in the dope jar. Let’s get to it:
In Clearwater, Florida, the new Pinellas County sheriff is investigating his narcotics division, which Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said had become “too loose an operation.” The unit has been criticized for conducting surveillance of customers at hydroponic grow stores and for one of its members donning a utility company uniform to seek warrantless entry to a suspected marijuana grow. Nine deputies have been investigated so far, with five disciplined, two with complaints found unfounded, and two still under investigation. In one case, a detective sought reimbursement for a $200 payment to a snitch, but “he never paid the informant.” In another, a deputy back-dated a snitch payment receipt for another deputy who had failed to have the payment witnessed, as required by department policy. In another case, a deputy put department GPS devices on vehicles of his family members. In yet another case, a deputy erased a DVR hard drive seized in a marijuana bust because, he claimed, it might reveal the faces of undercover officers. But a local defense attorney said the tape would have shown deputies trespassing without a warrant. Gualtieri said he was “appalled” when shown court documents about the deputy wearing a utility company uniform, and that marijuana grow houses should not be the department’s highest priority. Gualtieri has referred his findings to local prosecutors. Stay tuned.
In New York City, two Brooklyn undercover officers have been hit with a huge judgment for falsely arresting two brothers for selling cocaine. Brothers Jose and Maximo Colon were at a nightclub in Elmhurst in 2008 when plainclothes Officers Henry Tavarez, Steven Anderson and Alan Figueroa arrived. They were shortly joined by Det. Miguel Caraval, who told the Colon brothers they were under arrest. But security video footage from the club showed that the brothers had never talked to any of the police, and the charges were dismissed. Attorneys for the city suggested that one of the officers had planted cocaine on the pair. The brothers filed a civil rights lawsuit, which the city settled by paying them $150,000 each. Figueroa paid a nominal payment to the brothers for their settlements and charges were dismissed against Caraval. But Officers Tavarez and Anderson did not respond to their complaints, and were slapped last week with default judgments of roughly $210,000 each.
In Carlsbad, California, a Carlsbad police detective has been charged with two felony counts after being arrested in January. Detective Michael Koch, an 18-year-veteran, got caught stealing drugs from the evidence room by coworkers. He had heroin in his pocket when he got busted. He faces one count of felony burglary and one count of felony drug possession at his March 16 arrangement and is looking at up to 3 ½ years in jail. But he’s still on paid leave, and still drawing his $72,000 a year salary.
In Smithfield, North Carolina, a former Benson police officer pleaded guilty Monday to charges that he’d stolen $850 cash that was evidence in a drug investigation. Randall William “Randy” Beasley, 43, was charged in January with obstructing justice and altering, destroying or stealing evidence of criminal conduct. As part of a deal with prosecutors, he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor larceny and obstructing justice, and the other charge was dropped. Beasley got sentenced to 18 months of supervised probation and ordered to perform 24 hours of community service. He also received two 45-day suspended jail sentences, so he won’t serve time unless he violates probation.
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