Thursday, April 9, 2015

FBI Agent Concedes Mistakes In Narco Cop Investigation

By George Anastasia
For Bigtrial.net

Mistakes were made in the investigation of six Philadelphia Police Department narcotics investigators, an FBI agent told a federal jury from the witness stand today.

But the agent, John Hess, would not agree with a defense argument that the 26-count indictment charging the veteran officers with going rogue and stealing more than $500,000 in cash, drugs and valuables from drug dealers was a rush to judgment.

Hess also said he could not answer what Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony Wzorek called the fundamental question in the case -- how high and how wide had corruption spread through the Philadelphia Police Department?

"I still don't know for certain," said Hess, one of the agents who conducted the two-year probe of the narcotics unit.

Under cross-examination by defense attorneys, Hess acknowledged that the government dropped four of the 26 counts in the original indictment shortly before the trial opened last week in U.S. District Court. Two of the counts were dropped because of conflicting statements made by a government witness. But two others were canned because one of the officers charged in the incidents was either on vacation or off duty when the crimes were allegedly committed.

"Obviously we missed this. We made a mistake," Hess said when defense attorney Jack McMahon showed him police work records indicating that Brian Reynolds, one of the officers charged, was on vacation on March 7, 2010.

The indictment originally accused Reynolds of taking part in the shakedown and robbery of a drug dealer on that date.

McMahon, who has emerged as the lead defense attorney in the case, then asked if the FBI had made an error when Reynolds was charged with another incident that occurred on the night of June 23, 2011.

Records indicated Reynolds had worked an 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. shift that day.

"Another mistake?" asked McMahon, his voice rising.  

"Yes," said Hess in the same quiet, controlled manner that marked his four hours on the witness stand.

McMahon, whose volatile examination style has drawn caution warnings from Judge Eduardo Robreno, and the other members of the defense team have used their cross-examinations to raise questions about the motivation and credibility of the prosecution's witnesses -- most of whom are admitted drug dealers. Today the defense also zeroed in on the motivation of the government.

A continuing theme from the defense side of the aisle is that investigators and prosecutors were selective in who they questioned and what they asked because they had determined in advance that the six narcotics officers were guilty.

Hess, for example, was questioned in detail about how he and other investigators corroborated the testimony of the drug dealers who claimed they had been threatened, beaten and robbed by members of the narcotics unit.

The officers, Reynolds, Thomas Liciardello, Michael Spicer, Perry Betts, Linwood Norman and John Speiser, were members of a Narcotics Field Unit that routinely conducted drug investigations in some of the city's worst neighborhood. The indictment lists 19 "episodes" between 2006 and 2012 in which authorities allege the police officers abused their power and stole cash, drugs and other valuables from their targets.

The jury has already heard testimony from a half dozen drug dealer victims. The trial ended today with Michael Procopio on the stand. His testimony will resume tomorrow morning. Procopio claims $18,000, a stash of oxycontin and a Rolex watch were stolen when the officers arrested him in December 2008.

But the focus of today's testimony was Hess' account of the investigation and the approach federal authorities took with the Philadelphia Police Department and several of its ranking members.

Hess said investigators were not able to independently verify many of the claims made by witnesses in the case with regard to the amount of money, drugs and jewelry allegedly taken by the rogue unit. He also said he knew of no attempts to interview neighbors of two drug dealers who each claimed they were threatened by being hung over the railings of their apartment balconies.

At another point in his cross-examination, the agent conceded that several Police Department supervisors with some knowledge of the various "episodes" detailed in the indictment were never questioned and that others were interviewed months after the indictment had been handed up.

One police lieutenant, who ironically is now assigned to work with an FBI drug squad, was not questioned about what he saw during a raid on the apartment of drug dealer Michael Casciolo.

Casciolo has testified that he was beaten, choked and held over the railing of his 19th floor apartment balcony. In response to a question from McMahon, Hess said he was not sure how long the lieutenant was at the scene and didn't know "if he saw anything."

McMahon, his voice rising, his face turning red, said, "You don't know the answer to if unless you go talk to him." 

Hess said he did not question another police lieutenant because "I don't think he was going to tell me the truth."

"Oh, you decide (who is truthful)," McMahon replied, his voice again rising.

Later, speaking of the same lieutenant, Hess quietly and calmly added, "We made a judgment ... I didn't think it would be helpful."

Hess also said that two high ranking department supervisors were not questioned even after they were assured that nothing they said could be used against them. He said the supervisors wanted the interviews to take place in the department's Internal Affairs office. They also asked that the interviews be videotaped and requested that they be given copies of the tapes.

Hess said federal authorities would not agree to those conditions.

McMahon and other defense attorneys have hammered away at the government's failure to tape record and video tape witness interviews, implying that investigators could more easily manipulate testimony if their statements were not recorded.

McMahon was still muttering about the investigative techniques and what he contended was a lack of a genuine search for the truth as he exited the courtroom for today's lunch break.

"This wasn't Sherlock fuckin' Holmes," he said to no one in particular.

George Anastasia can be reached at George@bigtrial.net.

47 comments:

  1. This is the most flawed investigation I have ever heard of.

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  2. What a joke, drop the charges and let these guys get on with their life

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  3. I can't believe how ridiculous this whole trial is. The prosecutors are making a mockery of the justice system.

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  4. Im usually anti-police but this trial is a farce. Clearly if this is all the feds could muster in a 6 year investigation then they should be ashamed of themselves.

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  5. There should be some FBI agents losing their jobs real soon.

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  6. Once again the FBI has over stepped their authority and embarrassed themselves with an investigation far from impartial? Who makes them accountable and why are we supposed to believe a bunch of career dug criminals who not only eluded prosecution but stand to make Millions of taxpayers money from future lawsuits?? Wtf

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  7. 18 months they had wire taps on phones / got nothing. Set up a sting KNOWING the cops would steal/ got nothing. Charged a cop for a crime when he was actually on vacation? And the list goes on and on. At some point isnt the goverment required to do the right thing. I think its about tome to wave the white flag and give these cops their life back. This is a total disgrace. The real crime is that one of these cops is still sitting in prison while the shit is going on.

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    1. And Tom L. The dirty narc wont ever see the streets again as it should be! See, what we see and obviously you dont is the way a good true trial plays out lol. The defense lawyers are simply sharks in shallow water. I cant blame them for taking all of them dirty cops money knowing that these dirty narcs cant win this case anyway...Ha! Listen...the federal prosecuter dangled the carrot right in front of them beddy eyed lawyers and they keep walking right into the grand scheme of things lol. This is what trials are all about. Them ex dirty narcs better enjoy all the freedom and liberty they have left. Cause once in prison(Tom L. alreadys losing friggin mind)...with the time they will be getting...they will slowy begin to lose everything-health...family....kids...friends lol hahahaha and the list goes onnnn.

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    2. There is a mental hospital on Rooselvelt Blvd. Go make yourself comfortable there.

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    3. Take your gun place the barrel in your mouth and end it pal. If u think this Jury is gonna believe these lying pieces of shit ur kidding yourself. These guys are walking . Then lawsuits will be coming afterwards after this display of Misconduct by the US Attorneys office.

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  8. I agree, go make yourself comfortable in a mental hospital. the case is falling apart, the feds sound like a bunch of dumb ass people, all the time, money and resources invested into this in hopes of catching someone dirty and they came up with NOTHING and i'll say it again NOTHING, so good luck with that most high and mighty federal agents.

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  9. This is a very sad state of affairs by the feds and Mr Robreno really needs to put this thing to bed before the Prosecution embarrasses its self any further.
    Set these boys free let them go home to there familys. As for the under achiever with kool aid in his veins ur the one who should be ashamed for not backing ur fellow officers the coward here would be u and the other haters on here believeing these lying black drug dealing idiots in the first place. Somebodys ass is gonna get theres but it won.t be these 6

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  10. My job is first and fore most. Ive been in uniform 15yrs...and not once have i done anything remarkably close to what these 6 nit wits have. A discrace...a pure discrace to this uniform. What did these 6 ex narc criminals think they wouldnt get caught? Or wait...maybe they were always hell bent on making us look bad? Well here i am Serpico and im going to blow the lid clear off the roof in 6 more months. Its a discrace what happening on our police force! 12yrs of this nonsense with these 6 idiots and its never enough!!! Theres alot of us here wishing on your convictions your no better them them doppey dope dealers yourself. And by the way...instead of you ex narcs who are on house arrest worrying about smoking weed...snortn drugs....and drinking your life away....worry about this prison sentence your about to get fools!!!! Emabarrasments to the Shield!!!!!!

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    1. Everybody seen something on here knows something on here what a disgrace they are so and so on then why aren.t u boys stepping to the plate oh i got 6 more months to do don.t wanna ruin my pention and break the code. But its ok if they lose theres with the lack of evidence audio and facts. Serpico my ass Jerkoff anonymous is more like it.

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    2. Hey those no good dope dealers are scum and and so are those creep narcos so what the hells the differce some one please let me know?

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    3. Inquiring minds wanna knowApril 10, 2015 at 12:48 PM

      Where there is smoke theres fire. But the lack of evidence 'audio' wrong doing
      caught in the act hasn.t and won.t be proven here. All they had was a officer who was caught in the act (Walker that is) made a deal with the feds lied his ass off to save his feds being greedy as usual put there blinders on ran with there chokes out on this one. Now they get a couple democrats from the hood to fabricate there stories rehearse it with them but half way through they realize these illiterates can.t even read so why check the rest let them make it up on the stand and hope for the best. Hope u understand what were dealing with here because the Jury pretty much has figured it out by now. The whole case is a friggin Joke. Get the proof 'hear say and haters don.t get convictions. Hard work good resources and reliable informents and wittnesses do and that.s all lacking here. I work in construction and can see these things lacking here so will the Jury especially with these idiot democrats here. Trying to be politacally correct don.t want offend anybody. Ray Charles was blind and if he were living today would be able to see these 6 are being screwed here. Hear say i seen he sad she said don.t get it here. And u guys wear badges and know that. These guys might be stone Jerkoffs but that doen.t make them guilty here not with this evidence.

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  11. The Feds are doing a playbook page from the Book of Seth Williams. Put the junkie Billy Doe and let him spin stories that change by the day that they are told and let a jury believe the stories as gospel to ensure three priests and a teacher are convicted and sent to prison where one priest died. Feds think jury is full of dopes who will convict once you push their buttons to do so. On the other hand, jury can surprise everyone by convicting all of the six cops as we need the integrity of 6,000 other cops to ensure the city stays safe.

    What is needed is for narcotic officers to file annual reports on their assets/liabilities. A sudden increase in assets could be explained by an inheritance or sale of property with capital gains tax paid or sale of stock with gains paid. Income tax returns would have to be filed with the Integrity officer of the department and subject to audit by forensic accountants at any time. What kind of a car they drive including leased cars would be on the statement. The purchase of a house on the shore would have to be listed along with the financing involved. Object of this would bed to keep away dishonest cops and those jaded enough to want to seize money from dealers instead of returning it to the police property department. That is the only way to clear things up with the public when we send cops to break down doors and seize cash contraband from drug dealers.

    The vast majority of our cops are honest, upstanding citizens - it is the small minority who are not honest and besmirch the badge when they get caught.

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    1. Salute to all Good law enforcement and our Boys in blue....agree.

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    2. Uncle Seth don.t tell the truth Williams
      another hand Job.

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  12. No need to file any type of reports. The Feds have access to anything and everything that they need. They looked intensly into these 6 cops finances and found nothing...yet they are still on trial. Ultimately, this entire investigation was personal. They had it out for these cops and whether they had proof of wrong doing or not, they were going to ruin their lives. That's our Government for you.

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  13. From 2006 to at least 2012, six members of Philadelphia’s narcotics unit stole $500,000 worth of cash, property and drugs from suspected local drug dealers. They were indicted on 26 incidents in total, including robbing suspects’ homes (sometimes while the suspects were in jail), stopping suspects on the road and beating them, dangling them from balconies, and even kidnapping them. Officers filed false reports to cover up their abuses. And they’re not getting off easy: according to Time, “Five of the officers could face life sentences if found guilty, while Officer Speiser could serve a maximum of 40 years.” The police commissioner declared after the indictments that the “malignancy” within the police department had been removed, yet just a few months later, another Philadelphia officer, Christopher Saravello, was arrested for “conspir[ing] with others to rob the dealers and buyers of cash and Oxycontin as well as other controlled substances,” according to CBS Philly.
    (This is an article on US. WORLD News today)

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    1. Can you please read the above article before you comment on it. Lights are on but no one is home!!!

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    2. And your point Anonymous 12.22 are u following this story or falling asleep behind the wheel Geez.!!!

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  14. Hi George from what you have seen and heard so far what way would you be leaning if you were a Juror. I know theres still a lot to be disscussed i won.t call it evidence because i feel that.s lacking here Just my opinion.

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  15. To the douchebags on this site who obviously get their version of events from the news paper. Take a few minutes out of your typing session a head to the courtroom for a first hand vkew of the disaster they call a prosecution. But then again, no matter how much the evidence is in favor of these cops ignorant unintelligent haters are gonna hate.

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    1. Hi im MRS.MASINGILL. LISTEN YOU JERK. I pay taxes held my jib for 20yrs in this city. And definetly no douchbag. But these ex cops need jail time. My son is a resident of a certain neighboorhood ok. He got busted by theses jerks and me ny wife was no what they did to our home and our sons human rights. My son has since long moved (his case was overturned by judges)...but before left he told me what these cops done to him and others...and how. So i know phila do not need officers like. And just as i was set to see my youngest son of to prison for 5 years...i have no feelings what so ever to see these six ex cops away for awhile and its going to happen soon.

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  16. These two paragraphs from the story say it all !!!!

    Hess said investigators were not able to independently verify many of the claims made by witnesses in the case with regard to the amount of money, drugs and jewelry allegedly taken by the rogue unit. He also said he knew of no attempts to interview neighbors of two drug dealers who each claimed they were threatened by being hung over the railings of their apartment balconies.

    At another point in his cross-examination, the agent conceded that several Police Department supervisors with some knowledge of the various "episodes" detailed in the indictment were never questioned and that others were interviewed months after the indictment had been handed up.

    This trial is a disgrace.

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    1. I agree and what makes it even more disgraceful Mr Robreno is a no nonsense guy and the trial is falling apart before his eyes.

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    2. Robreno dednied the one dirty ex narc bail...and place all otther ex dirty narcs on house arrest for a reason(Money,Taxpayer dollars, political motives, and a secrete only those behind the city of Phila close doors will ever know-The Ex Dirty Narcs will be found GUILTY...GUILTY...GUILTY...GUILTY...) Its already in the stars.

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    3. Yo man what up u tripping like this these boys on trial for there lifes yo U need be keeping that hate shit to your self my man these boys are walking true shit yo
      NOT GUILTY YO! !!!

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    4. So, Anon 6:11, what you are saying is that you know that the jury is tainted?

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  17. Sounds like the feds didn't do their homework on this case. Don't know all the facts just what the newspaper reports but things don't look good for the prosecution. Maybe the commish melted the officers badges to soon. The Commish ruined the reputation of a congressman who was not guilty in a homicide investigation in his last commissioner's job..... Maybe we should melt his badge and send him on his way.

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  18. Sounds like the feds didn't do their homework on this case. Don't know all the facts just what the newspaper reports but things don't look good for the prosecution. Maybe the commish melted the officers badges to soon. The Commish ruined the reputation of a congressman who was not guilty in a homicide investigation in his last commissioner's job..... Maybe we should melt his badge and send him on his way.

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  19. Both sides are no Angels but the Boys in Blue is are Being Railroaded. FBI and Lying Prosecutors like Zworick has lied and will continue to Lie on the Stand just for the Benefit saying it is his job. They the Prosecution know which is the truth and what is NOT TRUE but still PLANTS IDEA in the Jury's Head that The Boys in Blue are all Guilty even before the Trial Started.. Who do they think, they are? GOD? Withholding evidence and planting Lying Witness on the Stand is the BIG NO NO in my Book. I truly believe in the American Justice System but having experience with some of the Prosecution in Both Municipal and Federal Level, I have seen time and time again that they don't care about People's Family nor who they hurt by lying and the Jury falls for it. Their Goal! Don't care how you win, but as long as they WIN. LYING and Withholding Evidence contrary to the Brady Law. GOOD LUCK, Boys in BLUE!

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  20. Ralph where were you during the Traffic Court trial ? The defense attorneys caught the FBI agent on the case, in one lie after another, he lied to a grand jury to get the indictments and again at trial. In fact all but one defense attorney mentioned his behavior in their closing arguments. They asked the jury to show as much leniency to their clients as they had shown to the FBI agent. I am not sure what was more upsetting, watching an FBI agent lie and get caught by the defense attorneys or that the media did not report one word in the press. Should have been national news, headlines could have read" FBI AGENT LIES TO GRAND JURY", there certainly were enough reporters present at any one time, but not one word reached the media . There is no accountability for the prosecutors or FBI agents, they get to lie, ruin peoples lives and reputations, drain their life savings, ruin families. There is no review of their work, no discipline ,ultimate power. I would never have believed that my government would lie or an FBI agent would lie. Never would I have doubted my government .The general public is so used to believing their government as truthful, it was unthinkable to me to even consider that my government would lie, but when you witness it first hand, life looks very different moving forward . The media is given information the prosecutors want to be used against the defendants , using the press to convict the accused even before they get to trial. Traffic Court should have never been more than an ethical violation issue,as one of the defense attorneys said " there is a building In Harrisburg already set up to handle ethic violations".. We have turned into a nation of haters watching our fellow man get kicked, humiliated, disgraced is the new norm. Its really just a game to the prosecutors, another notch on their belts. Why waste our countries resources on issues that can be handled internally , every professional organization has an ethics department. We need the federal government to protect us against terrorist and foreign powers that are planning our demise ,we don't need the feds to participate in ruining the fabric of our society. What is the government teaching us ? We deserves more from the very people we were taught to trust. I cant think a worse fate to befall the Americans people than to lose faith in the judicial system. During the Traffic Court trial in her opening arguments for the government prosecutor Denise Wolf sounded a lot like Dr. Evil when she was reciting the small amounts of money per ticket, that never made it into Harrisburg's coffers, when do we find out how much never made it to Harrisburg or Washington for education or health care that was instead spent on a needless federal case. Million spent by the justice department on what should have been ethical violations handled by the proper channels. If the Supreme Court found fault with the day to day activity of Traffic Court there were proper channels to correct the situation , but that was never the desired outcome. Revenge was the order of the day,the outcome was a calculated, politically driven pay back. I would also suggest that politicians ,mayors , police commissioners, refrain from condemning people accused of a crime before they get to trial, when did it become acceptable to judge another persons innocence or guilt ? We don't need elected officials to voice an opinion giving the feds any more leverage. There really is no hope for our country unless we hold the prosecutors accountable for their actions, there will be more civil unrest, more disregard for authority, more hatred and discontent nationwide. Who can we hold responsible for the anger and mistrust now shared by thousands of Philadelphians in the Traffic Court and Police Trials, deceit on the part of the government breeds more mistrust. We look to you ,our judicial system, be our example ,we look to you to uphold those who you are sworn to protect, the American people.

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    1. So True, So True and well Spoken. For every minor ethical Charges, the way the Federal Prosecutors charges, there would be no room for all the Lies that the Prosecutors themselves who perjured themselves, along with all the Law Enforcement Officers who made honest or unintentional Mistakes. The Jails would be full and all of us as Americans Citizens that have Broken an American Law at one time or the other. And for those Who Said they have never Committed Crime intentionally or unintentionally As An American Citizen, Congratulations, you Should be Commended for your Honestly because you Certainly deserved to be Sitting on the Right Hand Side of the Lord when you time comes.

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    2. It seems as though the defense attornies in this case are stongly going after the investigation tactics of the Feds. Hopefully, when they are found Not Guilty, the fbi will then be held accountable for their actions.

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  21. Here is how it works, the feds get someone of questionable character, someone in jail or threaten with jail time to lie for them. Most times the so called witness are threatened to lie and feel they have no other option as they are promised favorable treatment such as no jail time, reduced sentencing, no fines, no ruined reputation if they cooperate . The so called witness perjures themselves saying the defendant told them they committed a crime, or they know of a crime the defendant committed, in exchange for leniency. It must be in the handbook they give out in prosecutor school. Audio that could help a defendant goes missing, witness that could exonerate a defendant are not able to found or not interviewed . Once your indicted its either plead guilty to a lesser sentence to avoid a jury trial and the threat of a lengthy jail sentence and go to jail or go to trail and go to jail after the jury fines you guilty, since the government does not lie. How do you think they keep the conviction rates at 97%. Could not do it honestly. Federal prosecutors, sounds like a job only Kim Jung-un wannabees could love.

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  22. Question:Have Tom L. The dirty ex narc and his 5 minions like Elvis Presley ? Cause how i got this trial going after Ole Jeffrey boy testifies this week-ALL SIX DIRTY EX NARCS WILL BE DANCING TO THE JAILHOUSE ROCK!!!!

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    1. Listen these guys really must of ran it right up your ass. Well news flash im sure that.ll happen again soon because f---ups like u its just inevitable.

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    2. Or maybe THE JAIL HOUSE BLUES... HEY TOM....THEY STILL BREAK ROCKS AT LEAVENWORTH PEN LMBO. THE OTHER 5 EX DIRTY NARCS WILL END UP IN SOME SOFTER CAMPS, BUT THE BIG DOGS A CHASE ALL YOU MUTTS TO LOCK UP(PROTECTIVE CUSTODY). SEE THERES NO ROOM FOR DIRTY EX COPS IN THE REGULAR PRISON POPULATION NOPE...DIRTY NARCS IN JAIL ARE AS EQUAL TO RAPIST RATS AND FAGGGS. HOLD ON TO SOME ONES BELT LOOP BOYS CAUSE YOUR ABOUT TO BE SOME BIG BLACK MANS WOMAN HELLO!!!! Try the Ramen noodles with cheese curls its one heck of a home coocked meal im sure you boys will be enjoys after your convicted AND HAULED THE HELL OFF TO PRISON!!!!!!

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  23. Reminds me of the huge LAPD "corruption" investigation when one member of an elite squad was found to be crooked. He implicated every other member of the squad and the media went wild over it. The feds jumped in to "oversee" the LAPD.

    When the dust cleared, it was determined that the only corrupt officer was the first one....and he had dumped on the others to try to save himself. Naturally, the media was silent and the feds stayed.

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    1. It was called the "LAPD Ramparts Scandal" and involved the C.R.A.S.H. unit. The only dirty officer was found to be Rafael Perez, the one who threw the other innocent officers under the bus hoping the proscution would cut him a break.

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  24. F.B.I. = Famous, But Incompetent.

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    1. Laughing. Technology=Think before you comment.

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  25. Use all wanna put a comment bout these cops be innocent,fact of matter is they are all dirty as hell an are going to get everything they deserve hopefully they all get life for all the wrong they did they are suppose to serve an protect not rob, lie and steal from people because they have authority an think its ok.

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    1. I agree. This is one of the truest comments .

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