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[November 20, 2009]
Two more narcotics officers snared in probe
Nov 20, 2009 (The Philadelphia Inquirer - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Two more narcotics officers have lost their police powers and been forced to give up their weapons in an ongoing corruption investigation that has ensnared three others this year.
The officers were identified as Robert McDonnell Jr. and Thomas Deabler. The decision was made after information came to light that the two could be connected to a federal and local investigation into whether a group of narcotics officers falsified evidence in order to make arrests, said Internal Affairs Inspector Anthony DiLacqua.
DiLacqua emphasized that the decision doesn't mean the officers will be fired or will face charges.
"We had to make a judgment call," DiLacqua said today. "We need to act in what's in the best interests of the police department." In addition to McDonnell and Deabler, officers Jeffrey Cujdik, his brother, Richard, and Thomas Tolstoy have been taken off the street since February. Cujdik alone has retained his police powers.
No charges have been filed against the officers, who have declined to speak publicly about the allegations. Lawyers for Cujdik and officials of the Fraternal Order of Police have called the charges baseless and termed them lies by police informants and drug dealers.
Neither McDonnell or Deabler had been on the street for some time, DiLacqua said. McDonnell was reassigned to desk duty in April, and now works at police headquarters, taking phone reports dealing with minor crimes. Deabler has been out on long-term disability and not been on active duty for several months. He is expected to retire on disability, which was planned before he was named in the investigation, DiLacqua said.
The investigation by the FBI and the Philadelphia Police Department's Internal Affairs unit began with Cujdik, a veteran of the Narcotics Field Unit who is accused of falsifying evidence and information to obtain arrest warrants.
In the months that followed, allegations emerged that officers had disabled security cameras during bodega raids, allowing them to take cash and other items. In June, several women alleged that Tolstoy, a member of Cujdik's squad, had groped them during raids on their homes.
Numerous drug cases are now stalled pending the outcome of the investigation, and about a dozen civil-rights suits have been filed against drug officers involving the allegations.
Contact staff writer Allison Steele at 215-854-2641 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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