Hunt Is On For Other Police Corruption
by Shelley Murphy, (22 Jul 2006) Boston Globe Massachusetts
US Attorney Vows To Follow The Evidence
Boston police and the FBI will investigate whether a corruption case reaches deeper and higher into the department than three officers accused in an intricate network of schemes that included stealing the identities of unsuspecting motorists, protecting truckloads of cocaine, smuggling illegal immigrants, and guarding after-hours parties where uniformed officers mingled with drug dealers and prostitutes.
"If there is sufficient evidence to charge any other individuals, they will be charged," US Attorney Michael J. Sullivan said yesterday as he announced the three officers' arrests after a 2 1/2-year undercover FBI investigation.
The explosive allegations have dealt another devastating blow to the Police Department.
"This is not a good day for us," Acting Police Commissioner Albert Goslin said at a press conference yesterday. "It is very hard for us to see that some of our own have conducted themselves in such an unprofessional and atrocious manner."
The alleged ringleader of the group, motorcycle officer Roberto "Kiko" Pulido, was deeply involved in all the schemes, officials said. He recruited two other officers -- one he met at the police academy, the other a colleague -- into some schemes, officials said.
Pulido was paid $600 for protecting each of the illegal parties, held monthly for the past five years, and, according to an affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, said that he turned some of the money over to one or more of his superior officers.
Pulido, whose cellphone and other conversations were recorded by investigators, "unwittingly provided extensive information about the illegal conduct of other Boston officers, other public officials, and private citizens," wrote FBI Special Agent Michael J. Kreizenbeck in the affidavit filed in US District Court in Boston.
Kenneth W. Kaiser, the special agent in charge of the FBI's Boston office, said investigators "took great lengths to explore to see if there were additional officers involved in this conspiracy." That was, in part, why it took so long to bring the charges against Pulido and the other two officers.
Sullivan, who vowed to "get to the bottom" of any allegations that arise, said the ongoing investigation will focus on whether additional officers should face criminal prosecution or disciplinary action.
Pulido, 41, of Hyde Park, a 10-year department veteran now assigned to the motorcycle unit; Carlos A. Pizarro, 36, of Boston, an officer for 10 years now on injured leave; and Nelson Carrasquillo, 35, of Dorchester, a seven-year department veteran also now in the motorcycle unit, were arrested Thursday night in Miami when they showed up for what they allegedly believed was a celebratory meeting with drug dealers who were supposed to pay them the final $35,000 of $50,000 in payments for guarding 100 kilograms of cocaine last month while it was being trucked from Western Massachusetts to a Jamaica Plain garage.
Instead, they were arrested by undercover FBI agents posing as drug dealers.
The officers appeared briefly yesterday in federal court in Miami but did not enter pleas, according to the Associated Press. A judge ordered them held until a detention hearing Wednesday and set an Aug. 2 hearing on their extradition to Boston.
The three officers were charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 100 kilograms of cocaine, but Sullivan said additional charges are expected against them. If convicted on the current charges, the officers could each face 30 years to life in prison. The department suspended them with pay yesterday.
The allegations "reveal a sad and troubling tale of the extraordinary breadth of criminal activity by Officer Pulido and the willingness of other officers to join him in ignoring their duty to uphold the law and instead to sell their badges to drug dealers," Sullivan said.
Thomas Nee, president of the Boston Police Patrolmen's Association, declined to comment on the case. The union's lawyer, Thomas Drechsler, also declined to comment on behalf of the three officers, saying, "We simply have not been involved at this point."
Already, the case represents one of the biggest corruption scandals to ever hit the department, which lost its commissioner July 1. Kathleen M. O'Toole left the post to take a job in Ireland.
Goslin, who rose through the ranks of the department and was promoted when O'Toole departed, traveled to district stations across the city yesterday with several other top commanders to try to lift the spirits of officers demoralized by the allegations.
"I firmly believe that 99 percent of the officers in this department do their jobs faithfully, with integrity and professionalism," Goslin said in a message posted on the department's website. "To serve as a police officer in this department is a privilege, and anyone who would throw it away by engaging in criminal activity is beneath our contempt."
The FBI launched its investigation of Pulido in November 2003 during an investigation into an East Coast identity theft ring, and almost immediately involved the Boston police anticorruption unit. Someone involved in the ring was cooperating with the FBI and met with Pulido, who said he was interested in buying gift cards that were purchased with stolen identities. Pulido later obtained $148,000 worth of gift cards from the cooperating witness, according to the affidavit.
The witness said Pulido provided him with the names, addresses, Social Security numbers, and dates of birth of motorists Pulido had stopped. The affidavit said Pulido would also run license plates of particularly fancy cars he spotted on the street. In all, Pulido allegedly sold information belonging to more than 160 people for about $35,000.
Yesterday, Sullivan said that all of the information was turned over by the witness to the FBI, so the identity theft ring was never able to make use of it.
The affidavit also alleges that Pulido sold and used steroids that he imported from a drug dealer living in Greece and that Pizarro had been a heroin trafficker and at one time had been buying 500 to 1,000 bricks of heroin a month.
Pulido and Pizarro are also accused of insurance fraud in allegedly asking the witness to sell two trucks to a chop shop, then reporting them stolen.
Pulido was allegedly ruthless when it came to dealing with at least two business partners. In March 2005, according to the affidavit, he framed a former business partner by having a gun and heroin planted in his car, then orchestrated the man's arrest. While the partner was being held on the charges, Pulido allegedly enlisted another associate to go to the partner's home and steal $40,000. The partner told police he had been framed and, Sullivan said, the charges were dropped.
In a conversation secretly recorded by the FBI last year, Pulido boasted that he was in the construction business with an illegal immigrant and routinely laundered money for him, charging a 10 percent fee. During other conversations, Pulido said he had smuggled foreigners into the United States for $5,000 a person, leaked sensitive Police Department information, fixed tickets, trafficked in stolen electronics, and aided loan-sharking, according to the affidavit.
Thursday's arrest is not the first time Pulido, who was in the MBTA Transit Police and Municipal Police before becoming a Boston officer, has been in trouble with the department.
In March 2000, Pulido agreed to accept a 45-day suspension after he tested positive for an unspecified drug, department records show. He was reinstated after serving the suspension.
A Boston police spokesman, Officer Michael McCarthy, said yesterday that no other complaints against Pulido have been sustained by Internal Affairs.
Pizarro has had two complaints sustained, but police did not provide the specifics. Carrasquillo has never had a complaint sustained, McCarthy said. The department said it could not provide unsubstantiated complaints that had been filed against the officers.
Pulido was shot in March 2002 while patrolling alone in Jamaica Plain. He was struck in the chest while wearing a bulletproof vest and was not seriously injured. Pulido provided only a vague description of a black male.
No arrest was made in the shooting despite a massive manhunt. A department official with knowledge of the investigation said officials were suspicious of the circumstances of the shooting at the time, but could not disprove Pulido's account. Goslin declined to comment on the case yesterday.
Donovan Slack of the Globe staff contributed to this report.