Michigan gives us two spectacularly egregious cases of corrupt policing, one of which included prosecutors and a judge, and we throw in the obligatory greedy jail guards. Let’s get to it:
In Detroit, an Inkster narcotics officer pleaded guilty Monday in a case in which police, prosecutors, and the judge agreed to allow perjured testimony to be used in a bid to convict a cocaine trafficking defendant. Veteran officer Scott Rechtzigel admitted to lying under oath and agreed to testify if called in the pending trials of his partner and the prosecutor in the case, Karen Plants. Plants, the former chief of the prosecutor’s drug unit, faces a life sentence as she goes on trial this week on conspiracy and official misconduct charges, and the now retired judge, Mary Waterstone, faces a single count of official misconduct and up to five years. They all conspired to cover up the fact that a witness in the case was a secret police informant who stood to earn $100,000 for his work. Rechtzigel, a sergeant who ran Inkster’s Special Investigative Unit, had faced life in prison, but ended up pleading guilty to a single count of willful neglect of duty, and will not do a day of prison time.
In Lansing, Michigan, two Michigan State Police lieutenants were arrested February 23 on a slew of corruption charges accusing them of running a criminal enterprise from the Monroe state police narcotics investigation office. Lts. Luke Davis, 48, and Emmanuel Riopelle, 42, are accused of systematically embezzling money and property seized from suspects between March 2006 and December 2008. In a search of Davis’s home that month, police found drugs and stolen property, including Vicodin, Oxycontin, steroids, a wall covered with a large quantity of men’s and women’s jewelry, 30 designer purses, 22 cell phones, computers, televisions, motorcycles, and a golf cart, among other items. The scheme blew apart after a complaint from a suspect that Davis stole personal property from his home. The following investigation showed that the pair developed a slick scheme to embezzle property through fraudulent auction sales. The items would later be resold. Davis faces 24 counts including 13 counts of embezzlement, five counts of misconduct in office, three counts of possession of a controlled substance, one count of conducting a criminal enterprise, one count of forgery, and one count of use tax violation. Riopelle faces 11 counts, including four counts of misconduct in office, three counts of forgery, three counts of embezzlement, and one count of conducting a criminal enterprise. Both face well over a hundred years in prison.
In New Iberia, Louisiana, an Iberia Parish Sheriff’s deputy was arrested Monday on charges he intended to smuggle marijuana into the Iberia Parish Jail. Deputy Richard Coons, 23, was busted on a tip and caught with marijuana by narcotics agents. He is charged with malfeasance in office and possession of Schedule I narcotics with the intent to distribute. He was booked into his place of work and at last report was still there.
In Spartanburg, South Carolina, a Spartanburg County Detention Center guard was arrested and fired February 24 for smuggling contraband drugs into the jail. Officer Thomas Brown, 42, went down after narcotics officers got a tip that he was supplying pills to inmates. He is charged with possession of prescription drugs without a prescription, carrying contraband into the jail, and possession of marijuana.