Thursday, November 02, 2006

Good Cop Dirty Cop

ndictment: Crooked deputies sold guns, drugs to public

From Kevin Bohn
CNN Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A Virginia sheriff covered up a scheme in which a dozen of his deputies sold seized guns and drugs to the public, a federal indictment alleges.

The indictment names Henry County Sheriff Harold Franklin Cassell, known locally as "Frank," and 19 others.

All but two of those indicted were taken into custody on Thursday morning, the Drug Enforcement Administration said.

"It is disgraceful corruption," said U.S. Attorney John L. Brownlee. (Watch how the good guys allegedly became bad guys -- 2:13Video)

"These were drugs and guns that were seized as part of their law enforcement duties that were then stolen from the property room and put back out on the streets."

Brownlee added, "You have law enforcement [officers] risking their lives to take these guns off the streets and then a very few members of law enforcement putting them right back out there."

He acknowledged that the arrests would affect the department's ability to carry on day-to-day operations. Virginia state police are being sent to ensure safety, Brownlee said.

Among the schemes alleged in the indictment:

  • The theft of drugs and firearms in the custody of the sheriff's department
  • Distribution of cocaine, marijuana and a date rape drug
  • Money laundering
  • Obstruction of justice
  • The DEA said 13 of those charged are either current or former sheriff's office employees in Henry County, part of southern Virginia's Piedmont region.

    A U.S. Postal Service employee, a probation officer and five civilians also were charged in the 48-count indictment.

    According to a report by The Associated Press on the indictment, William R. Reed, one of the civilians indicted, began cooperating with authorities after he was arrested last year on narcotics charges.

    The indictment says Reed said he acted as a middleman in the distribution ring, paying a sheriff's sergeant to use a house as a drug distribution point, according to the AP report.

    Officials allege Cassell was advised by authorities of drug transactions going on in his department but took no action. Authorities also allege the sheriff covered up several illegal activities by lying to federal investigators.

    Cassell was elected sheriff in 1992. The department employs 122 people, 96 of them as sworn law enforcement officers.

    "Today's indictment serves as a clear reminder that no one -- not even a senior member of law enforcement -- is above the law," Brownlee said.

    Copyright 2006 CNN. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Associated Press contributed to this report.

This goes back to the ideas brought up in lecture about justice and law prevailing in the classic mystery novel structure. But what do you do when you have to use law on the law? The character of the "dirty cop" is one that we've all seen in TV shows and movies (and in Chandler) but I'm always fascinated when they actually catch one in the act, indict them, and have a story make it to the news. What Noir should have taught me by now is that law enforcement authority figures aren't all worth the costumes they work in which makes me want to know more. How long were they being investigated? What brought on the investigation? Sure they got help a year ago from a witness for plea bargaining leverage, but how much did they know before that? It appears that superiors knew what was going on, but the ringleader Cassel never got more than a warning for it and that they were allowed to take their dirty moonlighting to great lengths. Will the superior officers be held accountable as well as the participants? How much jailtime will these people actually see?

1 comment:

Maggie said...

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