Former Helena-West Helena Police Officer Sentenced In Operation Delta Blues
Little Rock - Christopher R. Thyer, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas announced today that former Helena-West Helena Police Sergeant Marlene Kalb was sentenced to 30 months imprisonment with three years of supervised release to follow. No fine was imposed. Kalb was convicted on December 14, 2012, following a jury trial, of two counts of attempted extortion under color of official right and two counts of attempt to possess with intent to distribute cocaine. The sentence was imposed by United States District Judge James M. Moody. Kalb has been in custody since the verdict on December 14, 2012.
Kalb's convictions stem from an operation targeting corrupt police officers in the Arkansas Delta, including Helena-West Helena. The jury found that Marlene Kalb, while in uniform and on duty, provided a protective police escort for a purported drug trafficker, who was actually a confidential informant working with the FBI, and his cocaine by trailing him through Helena-West Helena in her police car on September 9, 2011 and September 26, 2011.
The FBI-led sting operation was part of the investigation known as "Operation Delta Blues," which focused primarily on public corruption and drug trafficking activities in the Helena-West Helena and Marianna, Arkansas, areas. Approximately 800 federal, state, and local law enforcement personnel from the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigations (IRS-CID), Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF), Arkansas State Police (ASP), and the Little Rock Police Department (LRPD) participated in the October 11, 2011, arrests.
The four other police officers indicted on October 11, 2011 previously pleaded guilty. Former Helena-West Helena Police Officer Herman Eaton pleaded guilty to one count of money laundering and one count of attempted extortion under color of official right. On May 16, 2012, U.S. District Judge Leon Holmes sentenced Eaton to 16 months imprisonment and 2 years supervised release. Former Marvell Police Officer Robert Wahls pleaded guilty to attempted interference with commerce by means of extortion ("Hobbs Act") and money laundering. On May 30, 2012, Judge Billy Roy Wilson sentenced Wahls to 24 months imprisonment and 2 years supervised release. Former Phillips County Deputy Sheriff and Helena West Helena Police Officer Dean Jackson pleaded guilty to one count of drug conspiracy relating to his role in the Sedrick Trice/Leon Edwards drug trafficking operation. On June 8, 2012, Judge Moody sentenced Jackson to 80 months imprisonment and 4 years supervised release. Former Helena-West Helena Police Officer Robert Rogers, aka Bam Bam, pleaded guilty to one count attempted interference with commerce by means of extortion ("Hobbs Act"). On August 1, 2012, Judge James M. Moody sentenced Rogers to 14 months imprisonment and 2 years supervised release. All four police officers remained in custody from the time of their arrest October 11.
A sixth former officer, Roxanne Davis, was charged in the Delta Blues case on September 17, 2012. Davis is set for trial on May 20, 2013, before United States District Judge J. Leon Holmes. She was a state probation officer and has also been charged with alleged Hobbs Act violations. An indictment contains only allegations. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The investigation was conducted by the United States Attorney's Office, FBI, DEA, ATF, IRS-CID, ASP and LRPD. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Julie Peters, Michael Gordon, and Benecia Moore.