Pubdate: Fri, 19 Feb 2016
Source: Columbus Dispatch (OH)
Copyright: 2016 The Columbus Dispatch
Author: Theodore Decker
Bookmark: (Corruption - United States)


A Reynoldsburg police detective who has worked for years with the 
county's drug task force was arrested on federal charges that he used 
his connections to deal drugs, including drugs that might have been 
taken from what was seized by his police division.

The arrest, officials say, could affect nearly 50 cases that now must 
be reviewed.

Tye L. Downard, 43, of Westerville, was taken into custody on 
Thursday on charges that accuse him of carrying out more than 20 drug 
deliveries to another person since October, involving heroin, 
cocaine, marijuana and Percocet pills. He is charged with possession 
with intent to distribute and distribution of controlled substances. 
He was in the Delaware County jail Thursday night.

Possession with intent to distribute controlled substances is a crime 
punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

Reynoldsburg Police Chief Jim O'Neill said he was stunned when the 
FBI contacted the city Thursday morning. He said he had no inkling 
that a public corruption probe was underway.

"To say this is a shock would be really underplaying it," O'Neill 
said. "I was completely floored when I heard this."

"You feel so betrayed," said Franklin County Chief Deputy Rick 
Minerd, who oversees the sheriff's Investigations Division, which 
includes the Franklin County Drug Task Force. "Here's a guy that we 
thought we could trust."

O'Neill said it is too soon to know what impact Downard's arrest 
might have on pending and past cases, but he expects that both 
internal and external audits will assess the potential damage and 
look into what the division might have done differently. Franklin 
County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien said a search of cases shows Downard 
connected to 49 cases that will have to be reviewed.

O'Neill said Downard has been a detective in Reynoldsburg for more 
than 10 years and for the past nine has been assigned to the county 
task force. He has been placed on paid leave.

Two other Reynoldsburg officers also have been placed on temporary 
paid leave because they worked closely with Downard and the division 
felt that was a "prudent" move during the unfolding probe, O'Neill 
said. Neither of those officers has been charged. Federal documents 
state that Downard had mentioned that he was working with "others."

According to court documents, the investigation began after the FBI 
Public Corruption Task Force heard from an informant that Downard was 
"using his official position to engage in illegal activity - namely 
drug trafficking." A federal complaint said the informant's 
information has been corroborated through surveillance, wiretaps and 
recorded conversations.

Investigators said Downard met the informant during a drug 
investigation and suggested he could avoid charges by cooperating. He 
first encouraged the informant to provide information on other 
dealers but later proposed a way to "track" drugs by distributing 
them on the street, the complaint said.

None of the methods that Downard employed to "track" the drugs was 
consistent with controlled law-enforcement drug deals, investigators said.

According to the complaint, Downard seized blue-and-white Percocet 
pills during one search, then two days later provided blue-and-white 
Percocet pills to the informant to sell. He was involved in another 
search that yielded several green glass canning jars of marijuana 
buds, investigators said. The next day, Downard provided his contact 
with four green glass canning jars of marijuana buds, the complaint said.
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