Former Officer Was "Stealing and Dealing", Jury is Told [TN]

By chillinwill · Jan 27, 2009 · ·
  1. chillinwill
    For most of his four years as a Memphis police officer, Arthur Sease IV financed his dream of becoming a record producer by stealing large sums of money and drugs from dealers whose reward was not being arrested, a federal court jury was told Thursday.

    Federal prosecutors said Sease got greedy, however, taking $32,000 in one stop and on another occasion robbing a particularly dangerous dealer in a white BMW who was so angry he chased Sease's squad car through the streets of Whitehaven.

    "You're going to hear 16 separate trials about 16 separate robberies," federal prosecutor Steve Parker told jurors. "This case is about a cop, several cops, who instead of doing good work were stealing and dealing."

    Sease, 31, is one of more than three dozen law enforcement officers charged with corruption over the past five years and is the first to go to trial.

    Others, including several expected to testify against Sease, have pleaded guilty or are awaiting trial.

    His 50-count indictment outlines conspiracy charges involving drugs, extortion, civil rights violations, kidnapping, money laundering and illegal use of firearms.

    Sease faces up to life in prison if convicted in the trial, which is expected to last nearly three weeks.

    He grew up in Orange Mound, joined the Navy and then, on July 19, 2001, he became a Memphis police officer.

    He was fired in January of 2005, after state robbery charges were filed, but he continued the shakedowns by directing former colleagues still on the force to make the stops.

    "His primary goal was the high life," Parker said. "He wanted to be a rap record producer and, in fact, High Life Inc., was going to be the name of his record company. He wanted to raise money for his rap label so he'd get friends who were drug dealers to set up drug deals and then he and other officers would rob them."

    The prosecutor said that after taking drugs, money and cell phones from the dealers, he would tell them "this is your lucky day" and that he wasn't going to arrest them.

    In one 2004 case, labeled "The Pop-a-Lock Robbery," Parker said a dealer with drugs and money quickly locked his keys in the car so the officers could not search it.

    But Andrew Hunt, a reserve officer, called a locksmith and paid him $40 to unlock the vehicle, said Parker, adding that Sease then showed up to share in the money and cocaine.

    After several dealers finally complained to the police department, a months-long investigation was conducted that ended with the arrest of Sease in an April 2006 sting.

    Defense attorney Michael Stengel urged jurors to be skeptical of the former police officers, drug dealers and other government witnesses who either were not prosecuted for their crimes or who are hoping for light sentences for cooperating with prosecutors.

    "That gives these witnesses a powerful motive to slant their testimony," Stengel said. "They have been compensated with freedom."

    The trial before U.S. Dist. Court Judge Jon McCalla resumes today.

    By Lawrence Buser
    Memphis Commercial Appeal
    Thursday, January 22, 2009

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  1. chillinwill
    Sease Sentenced to Life Plus 255 Years for Civil Rights, Narcotics, Robbery, and Firearms Crimes

    WASHINGTON—Arthur Sease IV, a former Memphis Police Department officer, was sentenced today to a prison term of life plus 255 years by Chief Judge Jon P. McCalla in Memphis, Tenn. A jury convicted Sease in February 2009 of 44 counts of civil rights, narcotics, robbery, and firearms offenses.

    "The peace and prosperity of our nation hinge on the integrity of our law enforcement officers," said Loretta King, Acting Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "We will continue to vigorously prosecute police corruption both to protect the rights of individuals and to maintain faith in our legal system."

    "Effective law enforcement begins with honest law enforcement," said U.S. Attorney Lawrence J. Laurenzi. "We will aggressively pursue and convict those officers and agents who violate the law and the public's trust. We have entrusted law enforcement officers with our safety and protection and we demand that they perform their duties honestly and truthfully."

    "The sentence is extraordinary in that it is one of the longest ever imposed for civil rights violations which did not involve a victim's death," said My Harrison, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI's Memphis Field Office. "We will vigorously investigate abuses of authority to defend the fundamental right to ethical behavior by government employees."

    "This sentencing sends a serious message that police misconduct will not be tolerated and will be dealt with harshly by our courts. While criminal conduct brings dishonor to those who commit them, this officer's actions should not reflect negatively on our fellow officers who continue to serve this community with pride and integrity," said Police Director Larry Godwin.

    The evidence at trial showed that from November 2003 through April 2006, Sease conspired with other members of the Memphis Police Department to use their authority as law enforcement officers, to rob suspected drug dealers of cash, cocaine, and marijuana. Sease and his co-conspirators would then resell the stolen drugs for their own profit. The government proved that Sease committed or was involved in 15 separate robberies.

    Five other individuals had already pleaded guilty in this case. Andrew Hunt was sentenced in February 2009 to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty in September 2006 to a federal civil rights conspiracy, robbery affecting interstate commerce and drug distribution. Former Memphis police officer Antoine Owens pleaded guilty in August 2007 and received a sentence of 63 months incarceration and three years of supervised release in March 2009. Alexander Johnson, another former Memphis police officer, pleaded guilty in April 2007 and was sentenced to 30 months in prison and two years of supervised release in March 2009. Laterrica Woods, a civilian who helped Sease and Hunt with one of their robberies, also pleaded guilty to a civil rights conspiracy in September 2007 and was sentenced to 36 months imprisonment and three years of supervised release in April 2009. Harold McCall, also a former Memphis police officer, pleaded guilty to a civil rights conspiracy in a related case in May 2007 and received a sentence of three years probation including one year of home confinement in June 2009.

    This case was investigated by Special Agents Tracey Harris, Maria Irizarri and Jaime Corman from the FBI's Memphis Division and Sergeants Matt Whittington and Billy Greenwood of the Memphis Police Department Security Squad. Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Parker from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Tennessee and Trial Attorney Jonathan Skrmetti from the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division prosecuted the case.

    U.S. Attorney Lawrence J. Laurenzi specifically commended Memphis officers Tony Parks and Thurmond Richardson for their contribution to the investigation. Testimony at trial revealed the officers learned that a Memphis police officer was robbing drug dealers. Their investigation revealed Hunt as the officer. Richardson and Parks initiated an undercover operation of a planned robbery, resulting in Hunt's arrest and evidence implicating Seale.

    July 2, 2009
    American Chronicle
  2. UberDouche
    "Effective law enforcement begins with honest law enforcement," said U.S. Attorney Lawrence J. Laurenzi.

    Sounds good, let me know when you get that down and then we can talk ;-)
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