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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Former Boston Cop Sentenced to 135 Months

Former Boston Police Officer JOSE ANTONIO ORTIZ, 46, formerly of Salem, Massachusetts, was sentenced by Judge Rya Zobel to 135 months imprisonment - August 13, 2008

Former Boston Police Officer was sentenced today to over eleven years in federal prison in connection with his attempt to extort $265,000 from a man on behalf of Colombian drug dealers. United States Attorney Michael J. Sullivan, Warren T. Bamford, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation - Boston Field Division and Police Commissioner Edward Davis of the Boston Police Department, announced today that JOSE ANTONIO ORTIZ, 46, formerly of Salem, Massachusetts, was sentenced by Judge Rya Zobel to 135 months imprisonment to be followed by 5 years of supervised release, on charges of conspiracy to distribute cocaine, possession with intent to distribute cocaine, conspiracy to commit extortion and attempted extortion. U.S. Attorney Sullivan said, Of all our recent cases combating police corruption, this was among the most egregious. To have a uniformed officer, carrying his badge and weapon, extort money on behalf of a Colombian drug ring cuts at the heart of our system of justice. It is only through vigorous investigations and prosecutions like this that we assure the public that rogue officers like Ortiz will not only lose their badge and uniform, but end up in federal prison.

Documents filed in early May 2007, and testimony at a hearing on May 9, 2007, revealed that in late August 2006, ORTIZ threatened the life of a man whom ORTIZ believed to be responsible for a drug deal which had gone bad. ORTIZ told the man that he worked with two drug dealers and a number of Colombians who had lost money on a narcotics transaction and he was there to collect the debt. ORTIZ told the man that he knew everything about him and his family, and showed the man a photograph he had of him. ORTIZ also threatened to harm an associate of the man if he failed to pay the drug debt owed. In a subsequent recorded conversation, ORTIZ told the man that he owed $265,000. Over a period of several months, as a result of the threats the man paid ORTIZ $6,000 in cash. Video recordings of the meetings made by the FBI ├»¿½ reveal ORTIZ stuffing wads of cash in the pockets of his police uniform. Ultimately, at the direction of law enforcement, the man offered to pay-off his alleged debt with 3 kilograms of cocaine and $5,000. In a subsequent recorded meeting, ORTIZ demanded more; ORTIZ insisted on 4 kilograms of cocaine and a total of $10,000. On May 2, 2007, an team of federal agents arrested ORTIZ at a parking lot in Revere, where ORTIZ was scheduled to rendezvous with the man and two of the drug dealers. ORTIZ appeared at the meeting armed and in his Boston Police Department uniform. 

Before his arrest, ORTIZ was shown the four kilograms of cocaine, and took possession of the keys to the car in which the cocaine and $4,000 in cash were concealed. In an interview shortly after his arrest, ORTIZ admitted that he had been sent by a drug dealer to collect a drug debt, and that he had obtained $6,000 in payments. Testimony at the May 9th hearing also revealed that a search of ORTIZ Boston Police Department lockers after his arrest resulted in the seizure of more than $7,000 in cash. Of the cash recovered from ORTIZ locker, $700 were bills that had been provided by the victim to ORTIZ in payment of the drug debt. ORITIZ sentencing comes after a series of successful public corruption investigations and prosecutions of officers in the Boston Police Department. Former Officer Roberto Pulido was convicted in connection with protecting 140 kilograms of cocaine in a sting operation and sentenced to 26 years in prison on May 16, 2008. Former Officer Nelson Carrasquillo was sentenced to 18 years incarceration on March 10, 2008 in connection with the same cocaine protection operation. Former Officer Carlos Pizarro was sentenced to 13 years incarceration on December 12, 2007 for his role in protecting 40 kilograms of cocaine in that case. 

Former Officer Edgardo Rodriguez was convicted of steroid distribution in connection with Pulido and obstruction of justice charges; he was sentenced to just over one year in prison on February 12, 2008. Two non-law enforcement associates of Pulido have also been convicted in connection with the corruption investigation: Matthew West was convicted on cocaine distribution charges and sentenced to 15 years incarceration on October 10, 2007; Jose Tito Alvarez a close associate of Pulido was sentenced to two years incarceration on a related civil rights violation on July 23, 2008. The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation - Boston Field Division in conjunction with the Boston Police Department Anti-Corruption Unit. It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney John T. McNeil in Sullivanï Public Corruption and Special Prosecutions Unit.

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