MyFoxPhily.com - FOX 29 News - June 17, 2009
PHILADELPHIA, PA - A veteran Philadelphia Police Detective surrendered to federal authorities Wednesday morning to face corruption charges. With his attorney at his side, Detective Richard "Rickie" Durham turned himself in to U.S. Marshals to face an indictment that was unsealed by authorities later Wednesday morning, Fox 29's Dave Schratwieser reported. The U.S. Attorney's Office alleges in a news release that "Durham, through a third party, warned drug dealer Alton 'Ace Capone' Coles of a forthcoming search by federal law enforcement agents." Durham, 43, is a 12-year force veteran and member of the police department's major crimes unit who was assigned to the FBI at one point. Schrtwieser reported that the accusations are related to a phone call Durham allegedly made to former NBA player Jerome "Pooh" Richardson -- a friend of his for years -- back on Aug. 10, 2005. Richardson's sister was living with Coles at the time. There was supposed to be and later were a series of drug raids executed later that morning on all of Coles' properties. As the U.S. Attorney's Office put it: "Searches of at least 23 properties and 11 automobiles associated with the Coles Cocaine Gang were scheduled for that day. According to the indictment, Coles then placed several calls to his co-conspirators warning them of the imminent searches and, in at least one case, telling them to hide or destroy evidence." Coles was one of 18 people arrested during the raids, which authorities said yielded numerous firearms (including several 9-millimeter handguns), live ammunition, several hundred grams of cocaine, drug paraphernalia, and approximately $800,000 in drug proceeds. Coles was hit with drug and gun charges, subsequently convicted and sentenced to life plus 15 years, Schratwieser reported. Numerous of his associates were also convicted. Jerome "Pooh" Richardson is not mentioned by name in Wednesday's news release. He has not been charged and is, according to sources, cooperating with the investigation, Schratwieser reported. Authorities said only that the alleged tip-off call was placed to a "J.R. Jr."
Prosecutors allege in the six-count, 18-page indictment that Durham lied last June about his relationship with "J.R. Jr." and "falsely denied" warning him about the raids. Durham has been on desk duty at police headquarters for the past year as the investigation has unfolded. Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey sayd Wednesday morning, "Well, it's unfortunate. I've been aware of the case for a while, and certainly it's very serious charges. And we'll see what the outcome is, but it certainly is not something that I feel good about. Durham's attorney, Fortunato "Fred" Perri Jr., told Fox 29 News his client vehemently denies the charges against him. "Detective Durham is a dedicated and well-respected member of the law-enforcement community. He enjoys a great deal of support and respect in the law-enforcement community, and again he looks forward to clearing his name," Perri said. The detective faces obstruction of justice, advance notice of search and false statement counts that carry a combined maximum possible sentence of 30 years in prison and a $1.5 million fine, if he's convicted. Durham is expected to plead not guilty at a 1:30 p.m. arraignment before a federal magistrate, Schratwieser reported. Stay with Fox 29 News and MyFoxPhily.com for more on this developing story.