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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Two Cops Arrested in Separate Investigations

2 Memphis police officers charged in separate investigations
The Commercial Appeal by Hank Dudding - Janury 29, 2009

Two Memphis police officers were walked to squad cars in handcuffs Thursday after their arrests in separate criminal investigations. Both men were jailed and relieved of duty with pay pending administrative hearings. "Corruption has no place in the Memphis Police Department," said Director Larry Godwin. "As far as I'm concerned, that's two criminals off the streets." Lt. Billy Smallwood, 45, was charged by a federal grand jury with accessing law enforcement databases and selling the information to a third party. Patrol officer Ravell Slayton, 36, was charged by a Shelby County grand jury with two counts of official misconduct, one count of theft and another count of attempted theft. He was involved in buying and selling stolen property, Godwin said. Slayton also admitted being in uniform in a patrol car outside a house where he knew his brother was selling drugs at least 50 times.

The charges were announced during back-to-back news conferences Thursday afternoon attended by Godwin, Dist. Atty. Gen. Bill Gibbons, FBI Special Agent in Charge My Harrison, U.S. Atty. Larry Laurenzi and Shelby County Sheriff Mark Luttrell. The federal indictment alleges that Smallwood used a fake name to access information on Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and Federal Bureau of Investigation databases. The databases include criminal histories and other personal information and are restricted for official law enforcement use. He's charged with three counts of wire fraud, one count of creating a false document in a matter within FBI jurisdiction and another count of computer fraud. Laurenzi wouldn't say who Smallwood sold the information to, nor how much he was paid. Smallwood, who is free on $5,000 bond, was assigned to auto theft under Investigative Services and has been with the MPD since 1989. The Smallwood case was investigated by the Tarnished Blue Task Force, which is made up of FBI agents, Memphis police officers and Shelby County deputies.

Over the past five years, Tarnished Blue investigations have resulted in the arrests of 48 law enforcement officers, including 18 with the Memphis Police Department. Slayton, who is free on $2,500 bond, was picked up at his home Thursday as police rounded up suspects who'd been indicted during an investigation targeting street-level drug sales. He joined the department in 2001 and was assigned to Airways Station. Responding to a tip, undercover officers on Jan. 15 sold Slayton three 52-inch televisions he thought were stolen, police said. Slayton and his brother, Talvayentez Williams, 33, are believed to have profited from items stolen in the Chickasaw Gardens area by another man, Marcus Guy, 32. Police raided Williams' home at 1196 Aubra on Jan. 15, seizing drugs, weapons and a scale. He's free on $40,000 bond. Guy was also arrested Thursday, but no bond had been set. Godwin said the arrests will solve a number of burglaries in the Chickasaw Gardens area. "It clears it up tremendously," he said. "What you hate is to know that a police officer was involved in it." Smallwood -- who was arrested while attending a class at the training academy -- and Slayton got no special treatment from their fellow officers, Godwin said. "They were handcuffed, put into the back of a squad car and arrested," he said. "If you're going to commit a criminal act, you're going to be treated like any other criminal we arrest." -- Hank Dudding: 529-2565

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