Seven Former Narcotics Officers Indicted
PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ A federal grand jury indicted seven former narcotics officers Tuesday, charging them with a racketeering conspiracy and extortion of at least $400,000 and large quantities of cocaine from drug dealers.
Police Commissioner Willie Williams called the latest indictments ″another sad day for the Philadelphia police department″ and said he is continuing efforts to root out corruption. But he added that the corruption involves ″only a very small and insignificant number″ of officers.
″For police officers to take money or other property in exchange for allowing drug dealers to continue to deal drugs or for the officers to take and to distribute drugs themselves, that makes other forms of official corruption pale in comparison,″ said acting U.S. Attorney Thomas Lee II.
Lee spoke at a news conference, where one of the indicted men, former Lt. John Wilson, burst in to proclaim his innocence, saying, ″I was investigated for seven years.″ FBI agents forcibly ejected him.
Since a federal inquiry into official corruption here began nearly a decade ago, about 40 city police officers have been convicted, mostly for protecting illegal gambling.
Six of the officers indicted Tuesday are no longer members of Philadelphia’s 7,000-member police department and the seventh, who had remained on th force but not in a narcotics squad, was suspended and given a dismissal notification, Williams said.
Two others who were not police officers were also charged, one with conspiracy to distribute cocaine the police obtained in a narcotics search, and the other with failing to pay income taxes on drug profits.
The indictment alleges the racketeering activity occurred between January 1980 and February 1984 when at least 65 narcotics searches were conducted by officers assigned to a special drug squad that has since been disbanded.
The indictment charged Wilson, Ronald Giongo, David Grove, James Cattalo, Richard Jumper and Francis Hilt with obtaining money and other property, including drugs, for their personal gain by stealing, threats and intimidation, Lee said.
This pattern of activity falls under federal racketeering laws, Lee said, enabling the indictment to seek forfeiture to the government of about $400,000 in proceeds. Racketeering also carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $25,000 fine.
Besides the racketeering charge, Grove and Cattalo are accused of distributing and possessing with intent to distribute cocaine and methamphetamin e. Grove, Cattalo, Wilson and Hilt are charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice.
Another ex-member of the special drug squad, Charles Hund, and civilian Scott Karasinksi were charged with conspiracy to distribute cocaine, while Karasinksi also was charged with failure to file a tax return. Civilian Donald Crawford was charged with two counts of income tax evasion.