Former Waterbury Cop Pleads Guilty to Extortion
JAN 23--Waterbury, Connecticut….Mark R. Trouville, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in New England and United States Attorney Kevin J. O’Conner, and Colonel Timothy F. Barry, Connecticut State Police, announced that Robert JONES, age 36, of Wolcott, Connecticut, pleaded guilty today before United States district Judge Stefan R. Underhill in Bridgeport to federal extortion charges in connection with his participation in a scheme to help a drug trafficker steal drugs and money from another drug trafficker. JONES, who at the time of the offense was a Sergeant with the Waterbury Police Department, pleaded guilty to an Information charging him with committing a violation of a federal stature known as the Hobbs Act. This statute makes it illegal for anyone, including police officers, to use the force or the threat of force or fear to extort money from another person.
As revealed in earlier court proceeding, JONES agreed to help a local drug trafficker who, unbeknownst to Jones was cooperating with law enforcement authorities, steal one-half of a kilogram if cocaine and $14,000 in cash drug proceeds from an undercover agent who was posing as a customer of the cooperating drug trafficker. JONES agreed to do so only if he received a portion of the stolen money.
On August 12, 2002, as captured on videotape, JONES drove his police cruiser into the parking lot of the American Motor Lodge in Waterbury while the drug transaction was in progress. With his emergency lights flashing, JONES exited his cruiser, drew his service revolver and ordered the drug trafficker to the ground. JONES then handcuffed the drug trafficker and placed him in the back seat of the police cruiser with the cocaine and cash. Surveillance agents then followed JONES to the residence of the drug trafficker, where JONES uncuffed the drug trafficker and released him with the drugs and the money.
Although JONES believed he turned over approximately 500 grams of cocaine to the cooperating drug trafficker, the package actually contained a combination of real cocaine and a white powdery substance designed to appear to be cocaine, commonly referred to as “sham”. It is routine for law enforcement to use “sham” in undercover cases. Later that day, JONES received $3,500 in cash for his participation in the drug deal. JONES also provided the drug trafficker with falsified records showing that the drug trafficker was lawfully arrested and that the drugs and money were seized. As part of the plea agreement, JONES agreed to forfeit the $3,500 he received as well as his personal vehicle that he used at the time he received the payoff.
JONES faces a maximum possible sentence of 20 years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine when he is sentenced on February 26, 2004.
The case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Connecticut State Police Statewide Narcotics Task Force, with assistance from the Waterbury Police Department.