Just a few hours apart, two Philadelphia police officers were arrested in unrelated criminal cases, and one of those investigations involves a veteran officer who was allegedly leaking information to known drug dealers.
On Aug. 1, United States Attorney Zane Memeger announced that 23-year veteran police officer Raphael Cordero, 51, had been indicted for interfering in an ongoing federal narcotics investigation. The targets of the investigation were Christian Serrano and Edwin Medina, and federal authorities allege that Cordero was passing information related to the investigation to his half-brother, identified as David Garcia, an alleged member of the drug gang.
According to the indictment, Cordero allegedly told Garcia about a DEA surveillance camera that was installed in the vicinity of the 500 block of East Indiana Street, an area where the gang operated. When the feds executed a search warrant of a garage used by the gang, Cordero showed up, allegedly lied about his reasons for being in the area and offered his help in the search.
His real reason, according to authorities, was to find out where the agents were looking and how many of them there were. Cordero allegedly permitted Garcia to store money at his home, at least $20,000 in drug proceeds. When Garcia was arrested on July 27, 2011, Cordero allegedly told his brother to get the money from his home, an obstruction of justice. The indictment against Cordero details incident after incident of his allegedly informing drug dealers about the movements of narcotics officers related to the gang.
“Police officers are sworn to uphold the law, not obstruct it,” said Memeger. “The defendant’s alleged criminal conduct not only could have destroyed a federal investigation, but also could have threatened the safety and lives of federal agents who were investigating dangerous drug dealers.”
When Cordero was questioned about his actions, he denied everything.
Cordero was attached to the Criminal Intelligence Unit, and faces seven counts of obstruction of justice, lying to federal officers and related offenses. If he’s convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 35 years in prison.
In the second, unrelated case, police officer Aisha Pleasant, who has served on the force for three years, was indicted in Atlantic County, New Jersey, for allegedly assaulting a fellow officer in Atlantic City back in March.
Pleasant, 36, has been charged with resisting arrest and aggravated assault. She has been suspended for thirty days with intent to dismiss.
Pleasant and Cordero’s arrests make 47 officers in Philadelphia who have been criminally charged since 2009. Just last month Jonathan Garcia, 23, was arrested for selling heroin to federal undercover officers. He has been charged with four counts of distributing heroin and two counts of carrying a firearm during a drug transaction. In at least one of the incidents, he was selling heroin while in uniform.