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Feds indict 3 cops in drug thefts -- Dealers, couriers were FBI; more indictments comingChris Conley [email protected]
Three more Memphis police officers joined the growing roster of police either under federal indictment or serving time in prison.

Federal prosecutors Tuesday unsealed indictments charging three officers with robbing supposed drug dealers or couriers. Two of the officers charged are narcotics investigators with the elite Organized Crime Unit.

The dealers and couriers were really FBI agents and the money and drugs FBI plants.

Federal agents said more indictments against officers are coming in the "Tarnished Blue" investigation.

One officer named on Tuesday, Patrick Joynt, 35, has been called up on disciplinary charges nearly 50 times since 1997, according to Memphis police personnel records. He has been fired twice, the last time in March. Joynt has been accused of brutality, sexual harassment, and he's been in nearly a dozen wrecks in his police cruiser.

Memphis Police officials said they have tried repeatedly to have Joynt removed, only to see him put back by civil service rulings.

Joynt and a civilian, Donald Lemm, 33, were charged with conspiracy and theft of government funds.

They are accused of breaking into a hotel room on Aug. 18 to steal $12,000 of what they believed was drug dealer money.

Further, the two discussed plans to "wash" the money, to make sure none of it was marked, and they left no fingerprints on it, according to the indictment.

Edward Hoffman, 33, another OCU officer, is charged with stealing 21 pounds of marijuana and $3,500 from a "drug courier," who was really an FBI informant, in June.

Hoffman, who is charged with drug possession and theft of government property, allegedly took the drugs back to the informant so the informant could sell the marijuana.

Officer Robert Vick, 33, also with OCU, is accused of taking $800 from a man he believed was a drug courier in early August, and to breaking into a "drug dealer's" hotel room to steal $3,500. He is charged with theft of government property.

Federal and local officials contended the entire department should not be smeared by what they referred to as "a few bad apples."

Memphis Police Director Larry Godwin commended his staff for pursuing investigations against the officers, and praised the work of OCU.

"I don't want two officers to shed this kind of light on this unit," he said.

But, he added, "the badge is not something you can hide behind."

Two other Memphis officers were indicted in August on similar charges of ripping off FBI informants posing as drug couriers. A third officer was charged with obstruction of justice.

Former officer David Tate was sentenced in July to serve 14 years in prison on a wide array of police corruption charges. Two officers charged with him await sentencing.

And on Friday, former officer Reginald Alexander is to be sentenced for plotting to rip off a drug dealer.

"We're here, watching over their shoulder," said FBI special agent in charge My Harrison. "If you do wrong, you may get that next tap."

- Chris Conley: 529-2595
 
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