HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Good Cop, Bad Cop - They're Not Always Two
Pubdate: Wed, 28 Mar 2001
Source: San Antonio Express-News (TX)
Copyright: 2001 San Antonio Express-News
Contact:  400 3rd St., San Antonio, TX 78287-2171
Fax: 210-250-3105
Author: Rick Casey, columnist


The video played for the benefit of a packed courtroom was powerful.

Clip after clip of what authorities say are San Antonio police officers out 
of uniform sitting in hotel rooms with "Ricardo," a man they thought to be 
a mid-level cocaine distributor.

On the tapes they acknowledge that they know it's a cocaine deal.

Ricardo asks them if they want to be there, if they are comfortable doing 
the job of providing protection for his drug shipments. He doesn't want 
them if they aren't comfortable, he says, in case some trouble happened.

"Yeah, as long as I don't touch it, see it," says one officer.

Another, on another day, says, "Yeah, you take care of business and get out 
of Dodge."

Ricardo asks them if they are armed, which they are.

The question about being "comfortable" was to discourage an "entrapment" 
defense  available only if they could show they were reluctant 
participants who agreed to break the law only after being pressured.

Ricardo wanted to establish that they had weapons because the carrying of 
weapons in the commission of a federal crime adds significant prison time 
to the punishment.

There are scenes of a second undercover agent, posing as a dealer making a 
delivery to Ricardo, being patted down by a man authorities identified as a 
police officer who then watched as the agent counted out the phony bricks 
of cocaine.

There are scenes of Ricardo counting out $100 bills for payment as one man 
authorities identified as an officer says, "Easy come, easy come." In 
another payment scene, a man identified by prosecutors as an officer laughs 
as he picks up the 30 $100 bills Ricardo has counted out for him.

There are scenes of what appear to be officers forming three-car caravans 
by driving their personal cars in front of and behind the sports utility 
vehicle carrying the bricks of "cocaine."

According to prosecutors, the four officers in the dock Monday, when I 
attended, each earned from $1,500 to $3,500 each time they spent a few 
hours protecting a shipment.

But if the video was powerful, so was the testimony of family and friends.

These men are great sons, loving fathers, loyal friends, Little League 
coaches, fine husbands.

Two of the officers won custody of babies they had fathered as young men 
and raised them as single parents before marrying or remarrying.

These are men who have accepted responsibility in their lives.

One wife evoked a rare moment of laughter in the courtroom when, in 
describing how gentle her husband was, she said, "He won't even tell me to 
shut up."

For those who knew them as good men, to watch the videotapes must have been 

Father Jimmy Drennan, a former SAPD officer who is a Catholic priest, came 
to testify for his friend Arthur Gutierrez.

"Art is a man of integrity," he said several times. And: "Art is very 
committed to his faith."

At the end of his testimony, as he told Gutierrez's lawyer that he would 
"proudly" agree to supervise Gutierrez if the officer is freed on bond, the 
emotion got to Drennan. As he unsuccessfully fought back tears, a marshal 
brought him a box of tissues.

More evidence will emerge over the course of this case, but with the four 
men whose cases were addressed Monday, it was entirely believable that they 
committed the crime and that they were basically good men.

U.S. Magistrate John Primomo summed it up by saying, "From the evidence I 
heard, I think the likelihood for conviction is overwhelming," and then 
freeing them on bond because they are not a danger to society or likely to 

Why would essentially good men succumb to such a temptation? The best 
evidence we had Monday came from the wife who confirmed a prosecutor's 
listing of debts on a house, a Suburban, an Oldsmobile and a $30,000 credit 
card balance.

Even a decent SAPD salary wasn't enough. In over his head, the temptation 
for easy money may have been too much. It's a trite, sad story.

The irony is this: If the men were dirty to the core, if they had a history 
of providing similar services to real drug lords, they could lower their 
sentences by ratting on Mr. Big.

But because, as far as we can tell so far, they are rookies at corruption, 
the only person they can finger is Ricardo. And he's an FBI agent.
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