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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Michigan

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Former Detroit Police Lieutenant, Officer Sentenced for Conspiracy to Obtain Property by Extortion

A former lieutenant and crew chief from the now-disbanded Narcotics Unit of the Detroit Police Department were sentenced today following their convictions for conspiring to rob drug dealers and to steal drugs and money obtained in police searches, announced U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade.

Joining McQuade in the announcement were Special Agent in Charge David P. Gelios of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Detroit Division, Chief James E. Craig of the Detroit Police Department, Manny Muriel, Special Agent in Charge of the Detroit office of the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation and Special Agent in Charge Timothy Plancon, Drug Enforcement Administration, Detroit Field Division.

Lt. David Hansberry, 35, was sentenced to 12 ½ years in prison and Officer Bryan Watson, 47, was sentence to 9 years in prison. Both Defendants were also ordered to serve two year terms of supervised release upon completion of their prison sentences. Watson was also ordered to pay a $2,000 fine. The two were convicted on charges of conspiracy to interfere with commerce by extortion and robbery following a five-week trial conducted before U.S. District Judge Stephen J. Murphy.

According to the evidence presented at trial, the defendants arranged drug transactions with civilians, including confidential sources, so that they could rob and extort them. The defendants allegedly carried out traffic stops and fake arrests, and then stole drugs, money and personal property from their victims. Hansberry and Watson used their status as law enforcement officers to assist in their scheme, by driving police vehicles, activating lights on their police vehicles, wearing police-issued attire, displaying official badges and carrying firearms. Hansberry and Watson also identified themselves as police officers to coerce their victims into complying with their demands and to encourage their victims to flee, leaving behind illegal drugs, money and personal property.

In addition, the evidence showed that Hansberry, who was a sergeant at the time, and Watson failed to log into evidence money and drugs seized during searches of homes. Instead, they split the proceeds and arranged for the sale of the drugs, sharing the proceeds generated by the sales. In one instance in July 2010, Hansberry and Watson participated in a drug seizure that netted more than $3 million, the largest cash seizure by the Detroit Police Department at that time. Only $2.2 million, however, was placed in the evidence room.

“Police officers who abuse their positions of trust must be held accountable so that they do not tarnish the badges of all of the thousands of police officers who serve with honor," McQuade said.


"While an unfortunate reminder that sometimes those in public service squander the trust placed in them by the public, today's sentences should not taint the outstanding work conducted every day by the Detroit Police Department to combat crime in city of Detroit,” said David P. Gelios, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Detroit Division. "The conclusion of this case highlights the continued importance of the work of the FBI-led Public Corruption Task Force, in coordination with our law enforcement partners, to aggressively investigate allegations of public officials who abuse their positions for personal gain."


The case was investigated by the FBI Detroit Area Public Corruption Task Force, in collaboration with the Detroit Police Department’s Office of Internal Affairs and the Drug Enforcement Administration. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sheldon Light and J. Michael Buckley.



Public Corruption
Updated February 22, 2017