Gross Police Misconduct
Thursday, May 3, 2007
(Boston Police Department)
Boston police Officer Jose Ortiz faced attempted extortion and cocaine conspiracy charges today in US District Court.
By Shelley Murphy, Globe Staff
Boston police Officer Jose "Flaco" Ortiz allegedly showed up in uniform last August at the workplace of an unidentified man and threatened to kill him and his family if he didn't pay more than $260,000 to drug dealers, according to an FBI affidavit unsealed today in federal court.
After the man, who was cooperating with law enforcement, agreed to pay the debt "little by little," the FBI secretly videotaped meetings in March and April in which he handed cash to Ortiz while he was in uniform working police details around the city, the affidavit says. Ortiz was attempting to collect money on behalf of two drug dealers who blamed the man for a drug deal gone bad, the affidavit says.
Ortiz agreed to the man's offer to pay off some of the debt by delivering kilos of cocaine, instead of cash, but said he didn't want to have to personally handle the drugs, according to the affidavit.
"I have these guys who work with me ... I am going to leave my car ... you'll put it in my car ... and then when you leave there ... he'll pick up my car," Ortiz told the victim during an April 19 conversation, the affidavit says.
On Wednesday, the cooperating witness met Ortiz in a Revere parking lot and handed him the keys to his car after showing the officer that he had 4 kilograms of cocaine in the trunk, the affidavit says. When Ortiz was arrested Wednesday, he was in his Boston Police uniform, carrying his gun, and had just come from a detail.
He appeared today in US District Court to face charges of attempted extortion and cocaine conspiracy. US Magistrate Judge Timothy S. Hillman ordered Ortiz held without bail pending a hearing Wednesday on whether he should remain jailed until the case is resolved.
Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis trumpeted Ortiz's arrest as a step forward in the battle against corruption.
"The Boston Police Department is a better place today than it was yesterday," Davis said in a press conference today outside federal court.
Ortiz, a Dominican native who became a US citizen in 1982, lives in Salem. He joined the Boston Police Department in November 1986 and is currently assigned to District 4 in the South End.
Over the last 13 years, Ortiz has been suspended from his job at least six times, the longest being for 70 days, of which he actually served a 20 day suspension, according to the affidavit.
The Boston Police anticorruption unit was also investigating the case and asked the FBI to join the investigation.Posted by the Boston Globe City & Region Desk at 12:04 PM
Thursday, May 3, 2007
By Suzanne Smalley, Boston Globe Staff
Boston Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis, today in a press conference outside the federal courthouse where Officer Jose Ortiz was arraigned on extortion and drug charges, vowed to crack down on police officers who rack up multiple suspensions.
"If there are multiple suspensions, I will move to terminate," Davis said.
Firing officers for multiple suspensions would be a change in department policy.
Ortiz, a member of the force more than 20 years, had been suspended at least six times, the longest being for 70 days, of which he actually served a 20-day suspension, according to an FBI affidavit unsealed today in US District Court in Boston.
Pointing out that many of Ortiz's alleged crimes happened while he was working paid details, Davis also said that much of the investigation will focus on police details and how that could have happened.
Davis said Ortiz's arrest, so close on the heels of the federal indictment of three other Boston officers for conspiracy to traffic cocaine, is concerning. He said the department must do its best to weed out poor-quality applicants before they join the force, though he added that corruption is a problem in all professions.
"We need to work hard to get the best-qualified candidates in the Boston Police Department," Davis said. "But whether you're in the police department, the FBI, the US attorney's office as a lawyer, or a doctor, there are problems in professions ... What we need to do is aggressively pursue it when we see it."
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