Pubdate: Tue, 25 Feb 2014
Source: Philadelphia Inquirer, The (PA)
Copyright: 2014 Philadelphia Newspapers Inc
Author: Jeremy Roebuck
Bookmark: (Corruption - United States)


Jeffrey Walker, a 24-year police veteran who plotted to rip off a 
drug dealer, will testify against former colleagues in a plea deal.

A veteran Philadelphia narcotics officer has agreed to testify 
against his former colleagues in a widening federal grand jury probe 
of corruption in the Police Department's drug squad.

Jeffrey Walker, a 24-year veteran of the force, acknowledged his 
ongoing cooperation with investigators in a hearing Monday before U. 
S. District Judge Eduardo Robreno in which he pleaded guilty to one 
count each of attempted robbery and using a gun during a violent crime.

The charges stemmed from a plot Walker hatched last year to rip off a 
South Philadelphia drug dealer by planting evidence in his car and 
later breaking into his house.

But Walker's lawyer, Thomas Fitzpatrick, said Monday that his 
client's crime paled in comparison to those of other officers 
implicated in a string of similar crimes.

"These are dangerous people who have committed significant criminal 
activity for some time," the lawyer said.

He would not say whether Walker had already testified before the 
grand jury but added that the former cop had given FBI agents 
incriminating information on "too many [officers] to count."

Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony Wzorek would not discuss the 
investigation, saying only that Walker's "cooperation has been ongoing."

Walker's guilty plea comes a month after Police Commissioner Charles 
H. Ramsey first acknowledged the federal probe and said he had pulled 
at least four of its targets, all narcotics squad veterans, off of street duty.

The benched cops included Officers Thomas Liciardello, Perry Betts, 
Brian Reynolds and Michael Spicer.

Four others - Sgt. Joseph McCloskey, Lt. Robert Otto, and Officers 
John Speiser and Linwood Norman - worked closely with the officers 
under suspicion and were also reassigned. Norman was Walker's former partner.

Questions have dogged their work since at least 2012, when District 
Attorney Seth Williams said his office no longer trusted their 
testimony in drug cases, a decision that led to the dismissal of 
hundreds of prior arrests.

The city has since paid at least $777,000 to settle lawsuits claiming 
the officers framed suspects with false testimony and evidence. 
Dozens more remain on court dockets awaiting resolution.

None, aside from Walker, currently faces criminal charges.

Walker, 45, began cooperating with the investigation almost as soon 
as he was arrested last year in an FBI sting operation, his lawyer said.

An undercover informant caught the former officer on tape scheming to 
set up a South Philadelphia drug dealer by planting nearly 28 grams 
of cocaine in his car.

Walker later took his mark's keys, broke into his house and stole 
$15,000 and five pounds of marijuana.

He could face up to life imprisonment at a sentencing hearing 
scheduled for May 21.
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