Pubdate: Thu, 26 Jan 2006
Source: Winston-Salem Journal (NC)
Copyright: 2006 Piedmont Publishing Co. Inc.
Note: The Journal does not publish letters from writers outside its 
daily home delivery circulation area.


Ricky James Lyall, the ex-deputy with the Alleghany County Sheriff's 
Office who was convicted of seven drug-related charges Monday, hurt 
his fellow officers and the public he was supposed to be protecting. 
Prosecutors should push for a lengthy prison sentence.

Lyall, 33, is now in jail awaiting that sentencing. He was convicted 
in connection with a scheme to recruit drug dealers to sell drugs 
that should have been kept as evidence, Sherry Youngquist reported in 
Tuesday's Journal. Lyall, who had substantial credit-card debt and 
the key to the evidence room at the sheriff's department, began in 
2003 negotiating the sale of cocaine with a known dealer, prosecutors 
said at Lyall's trial at the federal courthouse in Statesville. 
Lyall's lawyers tried to fight the charges. Prosecutors, however, 
played a recorded phone conservation in which Lyall tried to sell the cocaine.

Although prosecutors said that deal never went through, Lyall had 
access to about half a kilogram of cocaine, and methamphetamine, and 
eventually sold some of those drugs. In 2004, when SBI agents took an 
inventory of the evidence room, they found that some cocaine and drug 
money were missing.

Lyall's actions - trying to go into business with the very people he 
was supposed to be putting away - cast a shadow on all the officers, 
both at his agency and others, who work long hours to protect the 
public. Nationwide, law-enforcement officers work hard for low pay, 
and most stay honest. But some, like Lyall, yield to the temptation 
of the easy money to be made with drugs and cross over to the bad side.

It happens in big cities. And it happens in rural counties such as Alleghany.

When officers go bad, they place their fellow officers at risk as 
well as the general public.

And corrupt officers send a terrible message to children and 
teenagers, who should be able to look up to, and learn from, 
law-enforcement officers. That message is that the good guys aren't 
really what they seem, and that the gangsta rappers are right when 
they rhyme about all the money to be made from drugs.

That message is baloney.

There is, however a good message here for parents and teachers to 
tell the young: Lyall is part of a tiny minority, and his stupid 
scheme held up about as well as a pile of coke would in a hurricane. 
The good guys in law enforcement took him and his corrupt ideas down.

Now, prosecutors should enhance that message by pushing for a lengthy 
prison sentence. And a judge should impose it.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Beth Wehrman