Drug-Case Tip Led to Downfall of 4 S.D. Cops 

Drug-Case Tip Led to Downfall of 4 S.D. Cops 
Posted by FoM on July 20, 2000 at 12:50:47 PT
By Kelly Thornton, Union-Tribune Staff Writer 
Source: Union-Tribune
It started as a routine marijuana-trafficking investigation that took federal authorities from Ohio to Florida to Massachusetts. Ultimately, it led to the downfall of four San Diego police officers.Three have been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges they operated an elaborate scheme to profit from the sale of stolen Jacuzzis, sinks and toilets. Dozens of unwitting fellow officers bought at least $100,000 worth at a discounted price.
One officer, James C. Coleman, pleaded guilty to five felonies yesterday. Another, Frank G. Almond, is out on bail. And the officer authorities have identified as the central figure, Anthony Joseph Rodriguez, remained in federal jail in lieu of $50,000 bail. His wife and father were also jailed.A fourth officer, Detective Sherri D. Jackson, 38, was indicted on suspicion of tipping off Rodriguez's ex-wife that federal agents were tapping his phone. All have resigned from the department.In a federal grand jury indictment unsealed yesterday, Rodriguez, 37, faces charges that he, his wife, Janet Michelle Rodriguez, 31, and associates around the country transported hundreds of pounds of marijuana in 1996 in a secret compartment he built beneath a motor home.It was a figure in that drug investigation, Kelly Moore, who tipped authorities to Rodriguez's alleged stolen-property operation out of San Diego in a plea bargain to save himself.Moore, the ex-husband of Rodriguez's current wife, made a deal with investigators to wear a recording device and share information about the stolen property ring.As a result, the FBI in San Diego launched a one-year probe that climaxed Monday with the grand jury indictments, which officials touted yesterday as an example of vigilance to rid law enforcement of bad apples."One cannot hide behind their badge or their position because along with the federal investigative agencies here you will be investigated and if appropriate you will be prosecuted," said U.S. Attorney Gregory Vega.San Diego Police Chief David Bejarano said he is troubled by the actions of the officers and regrets that the reputations of the "99.9 percent" of dedicated officers may be tarnished by the actions of a few."It disturbs me quite a bit," the chief said. "It violates the trust of the community and the department. . . . We have a zero-tolerance policy against criminal misconduct, dishonesty, corruption and abuse of authority, and we will take aggressive action."In the indictments, Rodriguez and his father, Joseph Rodriguez, 59, of Chicago Heights, Ill., are accused of paying two warehouse employees from Builder's Plumbing and Heating Supply Co. in South Holland, Ill., with cash, sexual favors and trips to Las Vegas in exchange for the stolen goods.The employees, Javier Peralta, 38, of Steger, Ill., and manager Perfecto Ochoa III, 44, of Chicago, were charged with conspiracy to transport stolen goods.Ochoa pleaded guilty yesterday, admitting in federal court in San Diego that he stole plumbing supplies at the direction of Rodriguez and his father, said U.S. Attorney Vega.Authorities said Rodriguez recruited fellow traffic officers Almond, 47, and Coleman, 36, to help him transport truckloads of the goods from Chicago to their homes in Ramona and Lakeside and then sell it to dozens of unwitting friends and colleagues at the department. Some items were sent via overnight mail.As an informant, Moore gave Rodriguez a two-page list of items he wanted to purchase, and Rodriguez obliged with the help of Ochoa, the indictment said.During the probe, authorities discovered that Rodriguez repeatedly used law enforcement computers while on duty to check records on behalf of drug traffickers to aid their organization, according to the indictment.Coleman and Rodriguez were also charged with illegal possession of firearms, including two silencers and two automatic weapons.FBI agents armed with search warrants searched the officers' homes Feb. 17 and found building materials, documents, sinks, faucets, power tools and other evidence, said Bill Gore, head of the San Diego FBI office. Gore said investigators believe the ring has been operating since 1989.The matter is a federal investigation because authorities believe stolen property was transported across state lines.NewsHawk: CD1San Diego, Calif. Published: July 20, 2000  Copyright 2000 Union-Tribune Publishing Co. CannabisNews Police Archives:
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Comment #2 posted by CD1 on July 21, 2000 at 08:35:52 PT
I found it quite amusing that it was the draconian drug laws that force people to turn in fellow drug users in order to escape mandatory minimum sentencing that brought these pigs down. I wonder how much they support harsher drug laws now.
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Comment #1 posted by Dan B on July 20, 2000 at 21:14:02 PT:
 Wake up, Chief!
"'It disturbs me quite a bit,' the chief said. 'It violates the trust of the community and the department. . . . We have a zero-tolerance policy against criminal misconduct, dishonesty, corruption and abuse of authority, and we will take aggressive action.'"The only truly zero-tolerance position against criminal misconduct, dishonesty, corruption and abuse of authority is one that recognizes the fraud that is the war on drugs. These four were caught; he can be sure that virtually every other cop that has ever been involved with a drug bust under his authority has committed acts of criminal misconduct, dishonesty, corruption and abuse. The drug war is, in its very essence, an act of dishonesty (to put it mildly). Until this cop learns to treat it as such, he will always have criminal misconduct, dishonesty, corruption and abuse in his precinct.
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