Federal prosecutors have charged the chief of police of a western Pennsylvania town with attempting to abuse his position of authority by charging extortion money to who he thought were drug dealers operating in his jurisdiction. However, his attorney contends that an undercover FBI sting operation entrapped him.
The defendant, 55, was indicted by a federal grand jury in Pittsburgh on charges of extortion, to which he pleaded not guilty at his Oct. 31 arraignment. Prosecutors allege that the chief met in July with a person he believed to be a drug dealer and agreed to provide protection for a drug sale that was to happen the next month.
In fact, the indictment said, the purported drug dealer was an undercover FBI agent, and the Aug. 23 sale of several kilograms of cocaine the chief allegedly watched over from his squad car was a sting operation. The chief reportedly accepted $2,500 for providing protection and indicated he would be willing to do the same in the future. He is said to have bragged he was "the best cop money can buy."
At the indictment hearing, the chief's defense attorney argued that he had been "cajoled and lured" by the FBI to abusing his authority.
The defendant is also accused of threatening a local town councilman, saying he "needs to be eliminated," and a former girlfriend. Authorities claim he told an undercover agent that he wanted to put the former girlfriend in a body bag and drive her in a remote location. His attorney said that such statements were not serious and that his client was "just a BS'er."
The judge presiding over the arraignment declined to order bail, so the defendant remained in jail as of Oct. 31.
Source: York Dispatch, "Pa. police chief charged with drug-cover extortion," Kevin Begos, Oct. 31, 2011