of The Florida Times-Union reported on July 25, 2001 that three
Jacksonville, Florida police officers who were indicted in December of
2000 have been linked to as many as a dozen more drug convictions that may
have been fraudulent.
In these twelve drug cases, the defendants were charged with buying drugs
from Officer Sinclair as part of undercover sting operations conducted from 1996 to 1999.
In each case the defendants had told their attorneys that one of three
things had occurred: they never purchased the drugs when solicited
to do so by the officer; the officers attempted to shake them down and
when they refused to give the officers money they were arrested, or they were intimidated into making a
purchase by the officer as a result of violent threats.
With the legal system stacked against them,
all 12 men had pleaded guilty to drug charges rather than risk facing a police officer at trial
and receiving more jail time. The sentences they did receive lasted from a few days to a few months.
Chief Assistant Public Defender Bill White
believes that at least some, if not all, of these defendants are telling
In one case, a man was sentenced to life in
prison based primarily on Officer Sinclair's testimony. That
sentence had to be dropped after the credibility of Officer Sinclair's
testimony was damaged when the officer was charged in a murder, robberies, and drug
trafficking. Prosecutors said they will review new evidence in other cases brought to their attention where there is no
independent corroboration of the indicted officer's testimony.
The credibility of Officers Sinclair, Karl Waldon, and Jason
Pough became an issue after Sinclair was arrested in December and charged in crimes including
robbery and the slaying of convenience store owner and the investigation
revealed possible involvement of the other officers. Former-officer
Pough has pleaded guilty to a robbery and kidnapping and is cooperating against his former colleagues.
Among the many crimes in the federal indictment are
charges that the officers ripped off drugs and money during traffic stops.
Here's an example of the type of crimes these officers allegedly
In 1998 Malik Warthen, a taxi cab driver,
picked up a passenger and was stopped by a patrol car and two undercover narcotics
officers in an unmarked undercover police vehicle for allegedly driving
through a stop sign by . The passenger in the cab was a cousin of one of
the uncover narcotics officers.who allegedly
planted the drugs found during the ensuing search.
The narcotics officers, Pough and Waldon,
contend that they were in an unmarked car when they allegedly saw Warthen drive through a stop sign. They radioed for
assistance and a patrol car came to their assistance and stopped Warthen's
cab. The officer in the patrol car provided back up and observed the
The undercover officers. Waldon and Pough,
approached the stopped cab wearing black ninja masks and had their guns
drawn. They said that they saw Warthen open the cab door as they
were approaching and put a container containing crack cocaine under the
Here's the problem. The patrol officer,
who had a clear view of both the cab driver and the drivers side of the
cab, said he did not see Warthen open his car door. During the
process of a search by Waldon and Pough, the cab driver reports that he
was robbed of several thousand dollars by the narcotics officers.
Warthen, the cab driver, didn't bring up the cash
robbery during his case because a plea agreement was arranged
beforehand. The can driver pleaded guilty to possession of cocaine and was sentenced to six months in jail rather than
risk facing a minimum of three years in prison.
In another example Jacob Wilson was charged with selling marijuana to Sinclair in
1995. Wilson has filed a motion in court seeking his 6-month sentence be set aside because he
claims Sinclair and other officers beat him and planted the marijuana on him. Prosecutors have reviewed the case and haven't decided what action to take.
White said he wants applicable cases set aside by a judge -- hopefully with
an agreement from prosecutors -- to clear the records of those convicted. White's office developed the cases from a list of 230 arrests made by
Sinclair since 1993. Chief Assistant State Attorney Jay Plotkin said each case will be judged
This is just another of many examples of
how our current War on Drugs Policy can go to far and result in the
corruption of police officers and the unfair prosecution of innocent
citizens. Although isolated cases of police misconduct are to be
expected, the vast sums of money involved in the illicit drug trade and
the broad discretionary powers of police and prosecutors makes such
corruption more likely.
I commend the prosecutors and officers who
put themselves on the line to expose and stop this corruption. All
that is necessary for evil to triumph is for people of good will to do
nothing. Fortunately, in this case, people of good will acfed
appropriately and made a difference.
Newshawk: Sledhead - http://www.maximizingharm.com/
Pubdate: Wed, 25 Jul 2001
Source: Florida Times-Union (FL)
Copyright: 2001 The Florida Times-Union
Author: Jim Schoettler
Bookmark: http://www.mapinc.org/corrupt.htm (Corruption)