Feds: Uniformed Philly police officers used badges to rob drug dealers

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey and U.S. Attorney Zane Memeger. (Credit: Charles Mostoller).
Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey and U.S. Attorney Zane Memeger. (Credit: Charles Mostoller).

Federal prosecutors in an indictment unsealed Tuesday charged two former Philadelphia police officers with allegedly leveraging their badges and guns to rob drug dealers.

Jonathan Garcia, 23, has been in federal custody since a sting operation conducted June 29, 2012 that led to his arrest for allegedly selling heroin.

Sydemy Joanis, 27, was arrested Tuesday, though Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey said he resigned from the force soon after Garcia was arrested.

Officials with the U.S. District Attorney’s Office, the FBI and the Philadelphia Police Department allege Garcia and Joanis conspired to rob suspected drug dealers of narcotics trafficking proceeds while on active duty between December 2009 and June 2012, using a confidential source – identified in court documents only as Person #1 – to help identify targets, buy drugs and, in some cases, to plant drugs in targets’ cars in order to justify searches and seizures.

“Garcia and Joanis stopped and searched individuals whom they believed were drug dealers,” U.S. Attorney Zane Memeger said.

“If Garcia and Joanis found other drugs or money during the search, they seized the items and arrested the individual.

“Garcia and Joanis then prepared paperwork, which at various times failed to identify their use of a confidential source, fabricated the justifications for the police stop and failed to fully disclose all of the money seized from those arrested.”

The two officers are accused of providing Person #1 with money and instructing the informant to meet with suspected drug dealers inside their cars.

Prosecutors said they often told Person #1 to leave behind a small amount of the drug purchased – usually crack cocaine – inside the car.

As Person #1 exited the vehicles, Garcia and Joanis would then allegedly initiate bogus traffic stops on the suspected drug dealers and, after finding the drugs purposefully left behind by the informant and arrest the suspects.

The officers would then allegedly falsify paperwork to steal all or some of the money recovered from the arrest and split the proceeds.

“It’s disappointing because it paints the entire department with a broad brush, but the vast majority of our officers work hard every day, do a good job, do it honestly and they deserve better than to have people like this in the ranks, and I’m committed to rooting them out,” Ramsey said.

He added corrupt conduct is damaging to the essential public trust in the department crucial to officers properly doing their jobs.

“Do I think it’s systemic? No I don’t,” he said.

“But do I think we have rotten cops in our ranks? We do have a few and we’re going to root them out.”

Ramsey said he’s open to discussing oversight policies regarding how cases are reviewed to identify possible patterns of officer misconduct, but added corrupt cops make it a point to circumvent department directives and orders.

“Obviously, what they’re accused of doing is not standard operating procedure,” he said.

“They find a way to work around this stuff, so keep that in mind. It’s not as if I’m one directive short of preventing a person from doing this. He’s just a thief, he’s a crook, I mean, he’s committing robberies.”

If convicted, Garcia and Joanis each face a minimum sentence of 30 years in jail and a maximum penalty of a life prison term.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Mayor reveals new tech hub Digital.NYC

Mayor Bill de Blasio revealed Digital.NYC on Wednesday, a new online platform aimed at connecting all things tech in New York City. The public-private partnership…

Local

Falling debris hits two men in Times Square

Two men were taken to the hospital Wednesday morning after being hit by falling debris from 110 feet above Times Square. Nancy Greco from the…

Local

Queens Assemblyman William Scarborough accused of misusing campaign…

Queens Assemblyman William Scarborough has been indicted on state and federal charges for allegedly withdrawing campaign funds as cash for personal use. Scarborough, a Democrat…

News

U.S. Secret Service director Pierson resigns under fire

U.S. Secret Service Director Julia Pierson resigned under fire on Wednesday after a series of security lapses came to light.

Television

TV watch list, Wednesday, Oct. 1: 'Criminal Minds,'…

The "Criminal Minds" team adds some supernatural assistance, as the "Ghost Whisperer" herself, Jennifer Love Hewitt, joins the show. She's playing an FBI agent, but you never know when someone…

Music

See the most popular Pandora station in your…

Who knew Bachata music was so popular?

The Word

The Word: Twilight just won't die

You thought our "Twilight" days were behind us, didn't you? Well think again. Series creator Stephenie Meyer (who would rather you not ask about "Twilight"…

Going Out

Which NYC restaurant lost its three-star Michelin rating?

A record 73 restaurants in New York City collected coveted Michelin stars on Tuesday as a mix of trendy spots and fine-dining stalwarts underscored the…

NFL

Rex Ryan fields more questions about Geno Smith,…

The idea Geno Smith will be replaced by backup Michael Vick appears to be all smoke, as the Jets are intent to ride with their second-round draft pick.

NFL

Will Beatty playing like franchise left tackle again…

Left tackle Will Beatty, who is the elder-statesman of Giants’ line, has turned around his season and become a consistent force on Manning’s blindside.

NFL

John Conner back with Jets for second stint

He'll be back. It's "Terminator 2" for the Jets, who brought back John Conner to the team on Tuesday after placing fullback Tommy Bohanon on…

NFL

Fantasy football: Ben Tate to break out, Larry…

Fantasy football: Ben Tate to break out, Larry Donnell will stay solid

Career

Creating a support system for minority women in…

When Kathryn Finney founded digitalundivided — an organization devoted to engaging minority communities with the tech world — she didn’t know quite what to expect.…

Sex

We can learn a lot from animals about…

There’s a lot we can learn about love from the birds and the bees — and the chickens, monkeys and squirrels that we share the…

Style

Saint Laurent

Our review of the Saint Laurent Spring '15 show at Paris Fashion Week.

Style

Céline: Paris Fashion Week Spring 2015

Our review of the Celine Spring '15 show during Paris Fashion Week.