Former Prince George’s County Police Officer Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy to Distribute Untaxed Cigarettes and Cocaine, and Gun Charges
Members of the Conspiracy Paid an Undercover Agent $1,770,230
for More Than 17 Million Contraband Cigarettes
Greenbelt, Maryland - Former Prince George’s County police officer Sinisa Simic, age 27, of Woodbridge, Virginia, pleaded guilty today to: an extortion conspiracy under color of official right arising from a scheme involving the transport and distribution of untaxed cigarettes; conspiracy to distribute cocaine; and, possession and transfer of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime and a crime of violence.
The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Richard A. McFeely of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Acting Special Agent in Charge Jeannine A. Hammett of the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation, Washington, D.C. Field Office.
“The corruption of law enforcement officers threatens the fabric of society and will not be tolerated,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Richard A. McFeely. “Thanks to the combined dedicated efforts of the FBI, IRS-CI, and the Prince Georges County Police Department, former police officer Sinisa Simic will now be held accountable for his crimes.”
According to Simic’s plea agreement, between July 2009 to January 2010, Simic participated in a conspiracy to transport and distribute untaxed cigarettes in Maryland, Virginia and elsewhere. As part of the conspiracy, Simic used his official authority as a Prince George’s County police officer to ensure the safe transport and distribution of the untaxed cigarettes in exchange for cash payments from a source and an undercover agent working with the FBI . During November 2009, law enforcement intercepted conversations on Simic’s cellular phone which indicated that Simic and a co-conspirator both wanted the co-conspirator to be armed while Simic and the co-conspirator were protecting the contraband cigarettes during transportation and distribution. Simic subsequently obtained a 50 caliber handgun requested by the co-conspirator, which was recovered at Simic’s residence at the time of his arrest, along with a 9mm handgun. On December 2, 2009, Simic and the co-conspirator transported 80 cases of contraband cigarettes to New Jersey in exchange for $3,400 paid by the undercover agent.
From July 2009 through January 2010, Simic and the co-conspirator also distributed cocaine to the undercover agent and source. For example, on October 7, 2009, Simic and the co-conspirator delivered 114.5 grams of cocaine to the undercover agent, who paid them$6,520 for the cocaine and to transport and protect a delivery of contraband cigarettes. A portion of the cocaine was secreted in the shipment of contraband cigarettes. Similarly, on October 22, 2009, Simic and the co-conspirator delivered 244.3 grams of cocaine to the undercover agent and on and November 12, 2009, they delivered 268.2 grams of cocaine, for which they were paid $13,800 and $4,000, respectively, for the cocaine and to transport contraband cigarettes. Simic was armed during each of the transactions.
From September 9, 2009 through at least January 26, 2010, Simic and the co-conspirator provided protection for eight shipments of contraband containing 575.5 master cases of cigarettes and were paid a total of $52,120, including the payments for the cocaine. The tax loss attributable to Simic relating to the illegal cigarette trafficking is $1,356,358, based on losses of $819,600 to Maryland, $122,940 to Virginia and $413,818 to the federal government.
Simic faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the extortion conspiracy and for transferring a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime and a crime of violence; a mandatory minimum sentence of five years and a maximum of 40 years in prison for the drug conspiracy; and a mandatory five years in prison, consecutive to any other sentence, for possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence. U.S. District Judge Peter J. Messitte scheduled sentencing for September 23, 2011 at 9:30 a.m.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the FBI and IRS for their work in these investigations. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant United States Attorneys James A. Crowell IV, A. David Copperthite and Sujit Raman, who are prosecuting the case.
Mr. Rosenstein, Mr. McFeely and Ms. Hammett expressed their appreciation to Prince George's County Interim Chief Mark Magaw for the assistance that he and his department provided.