Three Ohio police officers have been federally indicted for lying to judges to obtain search warrants against drug dealers.
Only to rob them in return.
In a case of greed and corruption, East Cleveland Police Sergeant Torris Moore along with detectives Antonio Malone and Eric Jones obtained warrants on false pretenses in order to rob known drug dealers upwards to $100,000 in cash.
All three officers were assigned to the street crimes unit between 2012 and June 2014. Apparently the officers saw their new job opportunity as a “get rich quick scheme.” The officers lied to judges to obtain drug raid search warrants.
Once the officers obtained the search warrants, they would go to stash houses of known drug dealers to apprehend the cash.
Instead of turning all of the cash into the evidence room, the officers kept portions of the cash for themselves after each drug raid.
The officers reportedly met in public parks after each raid to divide the stolen drug money. Sergeant Moore was the ring leader of the extortion plot, as she was in charge of the East Cleveland Police Department’s Street Crimes Unit.
In a September 2012 raid, the officers submitted a false affidavit based on information from a nonexistent informer to obtain a search warrant for a drug house. The judge who was oblivious to the false information, granted the search warrant.
The three officers found $20,000 inside the home but turned in just over $11,000, pocketing $3000 in cash each.
In June 2013, the three officers went to the home of a suspect without a search warrant. A relative of the suspect allowed the officers to search the suspect’s bedroom, which had a padlock on the door.
Detective Malone forced his way into the room and seized $100,000 in cash. The money was split three ways with each officer receiving almost $10,000 cash.
In official police documents, Malone only accounted for $74,670 in the search.
In June 2014, Malone pulled over a renowned heroin dealer named Mark Makupson. The detective took $9,000 in cash from the glove department of Makupson’s vehicle.
In exchange, Malone agreed not to arrest Makupson.
The FBI used confidential informants to obtain recorded conversations that incriminated the officers. Cleveland prosecutors confirmed that plenty of drug cases have been dismissed as a result of the investigation.
“the officers willfully combined, conspired and agreed with one another to injure, oppress, threaten, and intimidate persons, in the free exercise and enjoyment of rights and privileges secured to them by the Constitution and laws of the United States, namely the right against unreasonable search and seizure.”
The officers used their authority to take money for themselves under the guise of legitimacy.
Jim Jenkins, who is the attorney for detective Jones, said that his client had a one-time “lapse in judgment” and gave his share of the money to his church.
Jenkins also claimed that “Detective Jones was a good cop who resisted overtures from his fellow officers as long as he could.”
Steven M. Dettelbach, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, and Stephen D. Anthony, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Cleveland Office, said:
“The officers were charged in federal court for their roles in a conspiracy in which they kept thousands of dollars from alleged drug dealers, much of which was seized through illegal searches and fabricated reports”
“The officers charged — unlike the overwhelming majority of police officers — did not protect and serve, but rather pillaged and plundered.
They viewed the drug trade as an opportunity to enrich themselves and lied to the court, their fellow officers and the citizens of East Cleveland to pull off their criminal conspiracy.”
In lieu of being fired, all three officers that were involved made the decision to resign upon learning they were being investigated.