A bunch of cops in Philadelphia were arrested by the FBI for allegedly planting drugs on suspects and stealing cash and drugs from dealers for more than two decades. One of the officers is the star witness, testifying that this was standard operating procedure in the department.
A disgraced ex-police officer testifying against his drug squad colleagues acknowledged Tuesday that he stole drug money, planted evidence and lied on police paperwork too many times to count.
Jeffrey Walker told jurors that the Philadelphia Police Department drug squad targeted white “college-boy … khaki-pants types” who were “easy to intimidate.”
That matches the description of some of the drug dealers who have testified at the six-week police corruption trial that the squad stole as much as $110,000 at a time during violent, no-warrant raids.
Lead defendant Thomas Liciardello always got a cut of the stolen money, while the others split “jobs” that they worked, Walker said. The city’s police brass often celebrated the squad’s work with splashy news conferences to announce large seizures.
“They liked that, as far as the bosses and supervisors were concerned. It made them look good. It was nothing but a dog and pony show,” Walker testified.
More than 160 drug convictions have been overturned since Walker pleaded guilty and the others were named in a 26-count indictment. Scores of civil-rights lawsuits are pending over the arrests. Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey has voiced his disgust with the squad’s alleged crimes while continuing his effort to clean out and reform the 7,000-member department…Walker agreed to cooperate after the FBI caught him stealing $15,000 from a suspect and planting drugs in his car. He has been in custody ever since and hopes to avoid a life sentence through his testimony.
Liciardello, he said, warned squad members not to change their spending habits so dramatically that they attracted attention. The other ex-squad members on trial are Brian Reynolds, Michael Spicer, Perry Betts and John Speiser.
Walker said he once worked closely with Liciardello and Reynolds but was ostracized as he went through a divorce, weight loss surgery and other personal problems. Assistant U.S. Attorney Maureen late Tuesday introduced a series of threatening texts Liciardello sent Walker once he suspected Walker was talking to Internal Affairs.
“Your now a rat I hope you die,” Liciardello wrote. “I will have you locked up by midnight. Goodbye loner.”
And this is why good cops rarely inform on the bad ones, and thus why this kind of thing is so rampant.