HARTFORD, Conn. – Federal agents raided New Haven police headquarters Tuesday and charged the head of the narcotics division with stealing thousands of dollars planted by the FBI during sting operations.
Federal authorities also arrested a police narcotics detective and three members of a family of bail bondsmen who they say bribed police to catch criminals who had skipped bail. Authorities also said the investigation could lead to the arrest of even more officers.
"Today is a very dark day for our police department," New Haven Police Chief Francisco Ortiz said after the five men were presented in U.S. District Court in Hartford. "I'm disgusted. I'm upset. I'm frustrated."
Authorities said Lt. William White, a 39-year police veteran who led the narcotics unit, suggested illegal activity to a state law enforcement officer in July 2006. The officer contacted the FBI and began working undercover.
On Jan. 31, the FBI stashed $27,500 in the trunk of a car parked in the Long Wharf area. Authorities said the undercover officer told White that the car belonged to a drug dealer, and the two searched it without a warrant and split the money.
Authorities say the two also split $2,000 the undercover officer planted at a home police raided on Nov. 9, and another $800 found during another raid on Feb. 16.
If convicted, White faces up to 15 years in prison and fines of up to $500,000. His lawyer, Richard Cramer, said it was too early to respond to the allegations because he was still reviewing court documents.
The three bail bondsmen each face up to five years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine for the suspected bribery scheme. Prosecutors said they gave bribes of up to $15,000 several times to White and other officers to track down criminal defendants who disappeared after posting bail.
The bail bondsmen, Robert Jacobs, 79, Paul Jacobs, 48 and Philip Jacobs, 47, were charged with bribery conspiracy. William Dow, their attorney, said he was reviewing the case.
"All three gentlemen are highly regarded in the New Haven community," Dow said.
In a separate case, Detective Justen Kasperzyk, 34, was charged with a misdemeanor count of stealing government funds. Federal authorities said that during their investigation, they talked with a police informant who accused Kasperzyk of taking $800 from him during a narcotics unit investigation last year.
The FBI set up a sting this month in which it planted $5,000 in cash in a motel room and anonymously tipped off Kasperzyk that there were drugs in the room. Authorities say Kasperzyk took $360 of the money.
Kasperzyk faces up to a year in prison and up to a $100,000 fine if he is found guilty. His attorney also said it was too early to comment because he was reviewing court documents.