Drug-related police corruption comes in many varieties. We’ve got several this week. Let’s get to it:
In Piscataway, New Jersey, a Piscataway police officer was arrested April 25 on charges he stole cocaine while working as the department’s evidence officer. Albert Annuzzi, 47, is charged with one count each of official misconduct-theft by unlawful taking and tampering with evidence. Prosecutors said he took the cocaine for personal use. They did not announce his arrest until last week.
In Raleigh, North Carolina, one Wake County sheriff’s deputy has been arrested and another is under investigation for the theft of drugs and cash from the department. Deputy Balinda Manley, 34, was fired after her arrest last month when she was charged with two counts of embezzlement and one count of possession with intent to sell and deliver marijuana. She went down after a routine audit showed that she signed out drugs and $6,435 in cash last June, but didn’t return it. When prosecuted requested the evidence for trial, she returned drugs, and then, five days later, what she said was the cash. But when investigators opened the package, they found a pile of blank paper sandwiched between two $100 bills. Investigators found a deposit slip for $1,800 in Manley’s care and one for $940 in the car of a second deputy, Chad Hines. He is now under investigation.
In Duanesburg, New York, a University at Albany police investigator was arrested May 16 along with her husband after a search of their property turned up 100 marijuana plants growing in a pole barn. Wendy Knoebel, 48, and her husband face a federal charge of conspiracy to manufacture marijuana. The pair has been released on bail.
In San Leandro, California, a San Leandro Police narcotics officer was arrested last Friday on charges he furnished marijuana to a confidential informant for sale. Detective Jason Fredriksson, 38, allegedly provided more than a pound of pot to the snitch, who planned to sell it, police said. He is also the subject of an internal investigation for having an “improper relationship” with the snitch. He has been on the San Leandro force for nine years, and most recently has been a detective in the vice/narcotics unit and a member of the 14-person SWAT team.
In Phoenix, a Maricopa County sheriff’s deputy and two detention officers were arrested Tuesday on drug and human trafficking charges. Deputy Ruben Navarette and detention officers Marcella Hernandez and Sylvia Najera face felony charges. Seven other sheriff’s employees were being investigated for their possible involvement. The three arrested are accused of being part of a Phoenix-based international drug smuggling ring. Hernandez told authorities she is eight months pregnant with the child of the ring’s leader, a member of the Sinaloa Cartel. Navarette admitted to passing information about the sheriff’s crime-prevention operations to the group. The deputy also was accused of being part of a separate human trafficking ring that smuggled illegal immigrants from Arizona to California. Deputies found two illegal immigrants when they searched his home. He is also alleged to be an active member of the drug smuggling ring that brought loads of heroin from Mexico to Phoenix. Ten pounds of heroin and nearly $200,000 in cash, weapons, vehicles and stolen property were seized during searches. Hernandez, 28, was found with $16,000 cash when she was arrested Tuesday after arriving for work. She is being held on charges that include transporting drugs and money laundering. Najera is charged with money laundering and controlling a criminal enterprise.
In San Antonio, a former Bexar County sheriff’s deputy was sentenced May 19 to six years in prison for trying to smuggle heroin to inmates using barbacoa tacos. Robert Falcon, 48, went down after another deputy found a note in a jail cell with Falcon’s address on it that spelled out a smuggling strategy. A sting was set up in which $50 in marked bills, the taco ingredients and 4 grams of fake heroin were left on his doorstep. The fake drugs were recovered from his lunch bag when he arrived at work, according to court documents. He pleaded guilty in November to bringing drugs into a correctional facility, a third-degree felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Falcon is on suicide watch after he vowed to kill himself if not granted probation.