Friday, July 21, 2006

Officer arrested in drug, theft ring

Lesser charges for two others on Boston force

A Boston police officer was arrested late yesterday on federal charges, accused of being the ringleader in a wide-ranging criminal enterprise that allegedly involved guarding shipments of drugs and stolen goods, dealing in stolen store gift cards, stealing people's identities, and running illegal afterhours parties, two law enforcement officials said.

Two other veteran officers were also arrested yesterday on charges in connection with some of the alleged schemes, the officials said.

The three officers are charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than 100 kilograms of cocaine, one official said. The officers provided ``protective details" for the deliveries of several shipments of cocaine into the Boston area, the official said.

The case is focused on the alleged ringleader, Roberto Pulido, 41, a 10-year department veteran and motorcycle officer who is accused of netting thousands of dollars from the enterprise, the second official said.

Although the three officers are currently charged only with drug trafficking, investigators are also alleging in court documents expected to be made public today that one or more of the officers were involved in other crimes, the first official said.

Pulido is accused of taking information gleaned from driver's licenses of motorists he stopped while on duty and selling it to identity fraud rings that used the information for bogus credit cards, the first official said. A ``significant" number of people were victimized, the official said.

Pulido also allegedly sold fraudulent gift cards from Home Depot. It was not clear last night how he allegedly obtained the gift cards.

And Pulido is accused of running parties with drugs, alcohol, and prostitutes, the law enforcement officials said.

The officials said Pulido recruited two other Boston officers -- Nelson Carrasquillo, 35, a seven-year department veteran and also a mobile operations officer, and Carlos Pizarro, 36, a 10-year veteran who is on injured leave -- to guard sizable drug shipments, stolen property, and other contraband deliveries.

More details on the case are expected to emerge today when the officers appear in US District Court. So far, no one else has been charged in the case, the officials said.

The charges stem from a two-year joint investigation by the FBI and the Boston police anticorruption unit, the second official said. Federal authorities typically investigate and prosecute public and police corruption because they often lead to federal charges.

After beginning to investigate Pulido, the FBI brought the anticorruption unit into the probe, the official said. Over time, the investigation broadened to include two other Boston police officers whom Pulido considered close friends and allegedly brought into his enterprises later, the official said.

The official said that if the officers are convicted of all the charges they face, they could each face more than a decade in prison. Their records with the department were not available last night.

If the allegations prove true, they would be the worst corruption case involving the Boston Police Department in years.

In 2003, a civilian employee was indicted and charged by federal prosecutors with taking $21,500 in bribes from nine Russian immigrants seeking taxi licenses despite not having passed a required examination. Negisti Medhanie, who had worked in the department's hackney division from 1989 to 1999, pleaded guilty last year to 30 counts of racketeering, money laundering, and other charges.

In 2000, a former officer pleaded guilty to extorting more than $40,000 in bribes from more than 150 people seeking taxi licenses.

In 1998, two longtime detectives were sentenced to three years after pleading guilty to using their badges to steal more than $200,000 in cash and goods in federal prison for his role in a $7 million heroin smuggling ring.

In 1995, an officer was indicted on charges that he demanded money from drivers in return for ignoring traffic violations or not towing cars that were not registered.

A judge later dismissed the charges because of the officer's weak heart, but ordered him to resign, placed him on probation on a series of larceny charges, and ordered him to forfeit $75,000 in back pay.

And in 1988, seven officers were sent to prison in a corruption scandal after being convicted of extortion and racketeering. They were accused of taking about $18,000 in bribes from bar owners over the course of a decade.

Globe researcher Elizabeth Grillo contributed to this report. Smalley can be reached at ssmalley@globe.com; Murphy, at shmurphy@globe.com.

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