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    Thursday, December 4, 2008

    10 Cook County Correctional Officers Arrested for Cocaine Drug-Deals in UnderCover FBI Sting

    U.S. Department of Justice
    United States Attorney
    Northern District of Illinois

    Patrick J. Fitzgerald Federal Building
    United States Attorney 219 South Dearborn Street, 5th Floor
    Chicago, Illinois 60604
    (312) 353-5300

    AUSA M. David Weisman (312) 353-2119 AUSA April Perry (312) 886-5966
    Randall Samborn (312) 353-5318


    CHICAGO – A six-passenger, twin propeller engine aircraft flew on May 13 this year into west suburban DuPage Airport where three men awaited its arrival. Two of them – Ahyetoro A. Taylor and Raphael Manuel, both Cook County Sheriff’s Office Correctional Officers – accompanied an individual whom they believed brokered large-scale drug transactions but, in fact, was an undercover FBI agent. They boarded the aircraft, which was operated by two other undercover agents, and began counting packages of what was purported to be at least 80 kilograms of cocaine stashed inside four duffel bags. Taylor, Manuel and the undercover agent they accompanied removed the duffels from the plane and took them through the airport lobby to the trunk of the agent’s car in the parking lot. Taylor and Manuel, in a separate car, followed the agent to a nearby retail parking lot, where the agent parked and got into the officers’ vehicle. Together, the trio watched as yet another undercover agent arrived, removed the duffels from the trunk of the parked car, placed them in a Mercedes and drove away. The FBI agent posing as the drug broker then paid Taylor and Manuel $4,000 each - allegedly their most profitable payday in the corrupt relationship they began with the undercover agent at least a year earlier.
    The undercover agent, while posing as an employee of a business in south suburban Harvey, was the hub in multiple spokes of police corruption in which Taylor and Manuel – often together with other officers they recruited – allegedly provided armed security for purported cocaine and heroin transactions throughout the south suburbs in 2007 and 2008. The investigation resulted in the unsealing today of federal charges against 17 defendants – 15 of them sworn law enforcement officers, including 10 Cook County Sheriff’s Office Correctional Officers , 4 Village of Harvey police officers and a Chicago police officer. The defendants allegedly accepted between $400 and $4,000 each on one or more occasions to serve as lookouts and be ready to intervene in the event real police or rival drug dealers attempted to interfere with any of a dozen different purported transfers of kilogram quantities of cocaine and heroin.

    Today’s arrests and charges were announced by Patrick J. Fitzgerald, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and Robert D. Grant, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. They commended the assistance of the Cook County Sheriff’s Office in the investigation.

    All 17 defendants were charged with conspiracy to possess and distribute kilogram quantities of cocaine and/or heroin in eight separate criminal complaints that were unsealed following arrests early today. Seven of the eight complaints were supported by a single, 61-page FBI affidavit that tells the story of an undercover investigation that involved such activity as police officers allegedly protecting a purported high-stakes poker game, protecting transportation of large amounts of cash and two law enforcement officers actually selling powder cocaine, in addition to the routine activity of providing security for purported narcotics transactions.

    Fourteen of the defendants were either arrested or surrendered today and were expected to appear at 3 p.m. before U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael Mason in U.S. District Court. Arrest warrants were issued for Taylor, 28, of Joliet, and Jermaine E. Bell, 37, of Lynwood, also a Cook County Sheriff’s officer, both of who are on active military duty with Army National Guard units in Afghanistan. Another defendant, Archie Stallworth, 36, of Harvey and a Harvey police officer, was arrested on Nov. 19 but the charges remained under seal until today. He was released on bond and a preliminary hearing was scheduled for Dec. 4.

    Stallworth was accused of also accompanying the undercover agent to the DuPage Airport in a second, separate sting that occurred there on Aug. 11 this year. Armed with a Smith and Wesson handgun, Stallworth allegedly accepted $1,000 after assisting the undercover agent obtain three duffels purportedly containing 30 kilograms of cocaine from a second undercover agent who was waiting in the airport lobby. After placing the duffels in the first undercover agent’s car, Stallworth and the agent drove separately to a nearby retail lot and then sat together in Stallworth’s car as they watched yet another undercover agent remove the duffels and drive away, according to the charges.

    While sitting in the car with their conversation being recorded, Stallworth allegedly said: "It’s kinda suspect, you walk in, he come in with three bags, you walk out with three bags. He go this way, you go that way. In an airport, that’s probably cause. It arouses suspicion."
    About two weeks earlier, in another recorded conversation, Stallworth allegedly told the undercover agent: "The best spot for ya’ll to do that, believe it or not, is the train station. Fast food places, that’s where we (law enforcement) be looking. Sit there all day or they set up surveillance cameras," according to a separate affidavit that was attached to the complaint against him.

    "Ideally, it should be hard to find one corrupt police officer and it should never be easy to find 15 who allegedly used their guns and badges to protect people they believed were dealing drugs instead of arresting them," Mr. Fitzgerald said. "And the involvement of some in off-loading and delivering what they thought were large shipments of drugs flown in by plane is particularly shocking," he added.

    Mr. Grant said: "The almost systemic corruption that this investigation uncovered is quite troubling, especially given that most of those charged are sworn law enforcement officers. One would have hoped that the many public corruption investigations that have previously been announced would have served to deter this type of conduct. Apparently, that is not the case."
    According to the common affidavit, the undercover agent paid a total of $44,000 to 16 of the defendants, not including an additional $1,000 to Stallworth. The largest shares allegedly were paid to Taylor ($15,000) and Manuel ($14,500), respectively, for providing security during alleged drug transactions. The "deals" involving the agent’s purported drug sources and customers – all of whom were undercover FBI agents – typically occurred in retail and hotel parking lots in the south suburbs of Homewood, Tinley Park, Oak Lawn, Matteson and Bolingbrook and were captured on audio and video recordings by the undercover and surveillance agents.

    In each instance, the undercover agent allegedly would determine that each officer was carrying a firearm and advised them that they were providing protection for transfers of narcotics, providing the specific amount of purported cocaine and/or heroin that was involved. The undercover agent would then pay each defendant after each transaction was completed. After establishing an allegedly corrupt relationship with Taylor and Manuel, the agent typically contacted them and asked them to recruit a specific number of other officers to work each security detail, the charges allege. The undercover agent also would meet with the members of each crew beforehand to discuss the quantity and type of drugs that were purportedly being transferred.

    The escalating series of 12 purported drug transactions occurred between Aug. 1, 2007 and Aug. 11, 2008, with one additional staged deal that was planned but cancelled. After Taylor alone allegedly provided the undercover agent with security for the first transaction, Taylor and Manuel teamed up with another defendant, Tavis Ramsey, 31, of Chicago, who is not a law enforcement officer, to provide security for the second staged deal on Aug. 22, 2007. Discussing his close relationship with Taylor, Manuel allegedly told the undercover agent during a recorded conversation a week earlier that he and Taylor could intercede with local law enforcement if needed. "We know how to politic with the local authorities in case they try to stick their noses in that stuff like that. Then that way it gives everybody else a chance to split," Manuel said.
    Manuel, 32,of Glenwood, allegedly sold an ounce of cocaine to the undercover agent on Dec. 5, 2007, and Manuel and Taylor allegedly sold the agent two ounces of cocaine on April 18, 2008.
    In the third staged deal, on Aug. 29, 2007, the undercover agent allegedly paid $400 to each of two Harvey police officers – Dwayne Williams, 42, of Country Club Hills, and Antoine D. Dudley, 28, of Harvey – for providing security. According to the affidavit, in late May 2007 before the security stings began, Williams had accepted $400 for providing security for a purported $100,000 poker game being staged by undercover FBI agents, and Dudley had received $400 for providing the undercover agent with a security escort to a local business.

    Williams and Dudley allegedly teamed-up again – this time with fellow Harvey police officer James Engram, Jr., 41, of Calumet City – in providing protection for a purported deal involving 25 kilograms of cocaine on Feb. 29, 2008. During a recorded conversation preceding the deal, Engram allegedly discussed his background with the undercover agent, saying: "I ain’t always been in law enforcement .... So I know about other dealers watching. I use my street knowledge as well as what they taught me on the force to watch and learn body language, cars and we can do things on an as to know basis."

    The following lists the eight separate cases and defendants charged in each complaint:
    United States v. Manuel and Bell
    Manuel allegedly accepted a total of $14,500 for providing security for eight separate staged drug transactions, including one on Sept. 14, 2007, with Taylor and Bell, who allegedly accepted $500 for working a single staged deal on that date.

    United States v. Ramsey and Kyle T. Wilson
    Ramsey allegedly accepted a total of $1,900 for providing security for four separate purported drug transactions, including one on Oct. 24, 2007, with Taylor, Manuel and Wilson, 31, of Chicago and a Chicago police officer, who allegedly accepted $500 for working a single staged deal.

    United States v. Timothy Funches, Jr., and Diallo S. Mingo
    Timothy Funches, 26, of Bellwood and Mingo, 34, of Calumet City, both of the Cook County Sheriff’s Office, allegedly accepted $1,000 each for providing security with Taylor and Manuel for a single purported transaction involving 50 kilograms of cocaine and 2 kilograms of heroin on Nov. 16, 2007.

    United States v. Taylor, Antwon Funches and Antonio B. McCaskill
    Taylor allegedly accepted a total of $15,000 for providing security for nine separate staged drug transactions, including one on Nov. 30, 2007, with Manuel, Antwon Funches, 34, of Chicago, a Cook County Sheriff’s officer, and McCaskill, 30, of Harvey, who is not a law enforcement officer, with the latter two allegedly accepting $1,000 each for working a single staged deal.

    United States v. Daniel L. Lee and Julius L. Scott, Jr.
    Lee, 31, of Chicago, and Scott, 34, of Richton Park, both of Cook County Sheriff’s Office, allegedly accepted $1,000 each for providing security with Taylor and Manuel for a single purported transaction involving two kilograms of heroin on Dec. 10, 2007.

    United States v. Richard O. Hall, Jr., and Robert L. Kelly, Jr.
    Hall, 35, of Chicago, and Kelly, 32, of Glenwood, both of the Cook County Sheriff’s Office, allegedly accepted $1,000 each for providing security with Taylor and Manuel for a single purported transaction involving two kilograms of heroin on Dec. 17, 2007.

    United States v. Dudley, Engram and Williams
    In events described above, Williams allegedly received a total of $1,400, including $400 for a May 2007 security escort, and Williams and Engram received $1,000 each, and Dudley accepted $1,200, the charges allege, for providing security for a purported transaction involving 25 kilograms of cocaine on Feb. 29, 2008.

    United States v. Stallworth
    As described above, Stallworth allegedly received $1,000 for providing security for the purported transfer of 30 kilograms of cocaine at the DuPage Airport on Aug. 11, 2008. The Government is being represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys April Perry and M. David Weisman. If convicted of conspiracy to possess and distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine and/or one kilogram of heroin, faces a mandatory minium sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum of life in prison and a maximum fine of $4 million. The Court, however, would determine the appropriate sentence to be imposed under the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines. The public is reminded that complaints contain only charges and are not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and are entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. # # # #

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