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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of New Hampshire

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Former Manchester Police Officer

Pleads Guilty To Federal Offense

CONCORD, NEW HAMPSHIRE – Joseph Cespedes, 37, formerly a police officer in Manchester, New Hampshire, pleaded guilty in United States District Court for the District of New Hampshire to misprision of a felony, announced United States Attorney John P. Kacavas.

            Under federal law, it is unlawful for anyone who has knowledge of the commission of a federal felony to conceal the crime and withhold information about it from federal authorities.

            This investigation began in 2011, when the Department of Homeland Security – Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) learned that Cespedes – a Manchester police officer at the time – was associating with an individual in Lawrence, Massachusetts, who was the target of a separate drug-related investigation.  Federal agents also discovered that the targeted drug dealer enlisted Cespedes to run criminal records checks on certain stolen identities to determine whether they were clear of outstanding arrest warrants.  Cespedes ran the criminal records checks through unwitting Manchester Police Department dispatchers.   When those criminal records checks came back negative, Cespedes sold that information to the drug dealer for $350.00 and a small quantity of cocaine.  Rather than report the drug dealer’s activities to the proper authorities, Cespedes affirmatively concealed that felonious conduct.

            HSI shared the results of its investigation with the FBI, who, in turn, shared it with the Manchester Police Department.  Within days, Cespedes preemptively resigned from the Manchester Police Department, ostensibly for reasons unrelated to this investigation.  Despite his resignation, the investigation into his activities continued.  During a subsequent interview conducted by federal agents and Manchester police, Cespedes admitted his association with the drug dealer and his illegal conduct on the drug dealer’s behalf.  

United States Attorney John P. Kacavas said, “I want to commend HSI, the FBI and the Manchester Police Department for their joint efforts in bringing this rogue former police officer to justice.  His illegal conduct is a betrayal not only to the community he was sworn to serve but also to the officers of the Manchester Police Department with whom he served.  His guilty plea today is a testament to the determination of law enforcement and this office to find, deter, and punish criminals regardless of their status or occupation.”

            “I would like to congratulate my special agents for following the evidence wherever it lead, but I would equally like to commend the Manchester Police Department for their swift and decisive action,” said special agent in charge of HSI Boston, Bruce Foucart. "It's always difficult when the actions of a single officer stains the badge, honor and integrity of all the other brave men and women who choose to put their lives on the line in order to uphold the law. “

            Cespedes faces up to three years in federal prison and a possible fine of $250,000.00.  He is scheduled to be sentenced on November 4, 2014.

The case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security-Homeland Security Investigations, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Manchester Police Department.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Robert Kinsella.

Updated April 10, 2015