A former Philadelphia narcotics cop testified in court today against six of his former co-workers, claiming the group stole drug money and planted evidence "too many times to count" during his nearly 15 years in the department's drug unit.
Jeffrey Walker was busted in an FBI sting in May 2013 and has been in custody since February 2014 after pleading guilty to stealing $15,000 in drug money and planting drugs in a suspect's car. He is now testifying against six other narcotics officers implicated in the FBI's investigation, including the group's alleged ringleader, officer Thomas Liciardello.
That matches the description of some of the drug dealers who have testified in recent weeks in the federal police corruption trial. The witnesses have said the squad stole as much as $80,000 at a time during illegal raids marked by threats and physical violence.
Walker, 46, said police brass applauded the drug squad because they made big arrests that made them look good. Squad leader Thomas Liciardello, the lead defendant, "produced big jobs, a lot of arrests," he said.
"They liked that, as far as the bosses and supervisors were concerned. It made them look good. It was nothing but a dog and pony show. That's all it is," Walker said.
Liciardello, he said, always got a cut of the money stolen or skimmed from drug suspects, while the others split the "jobs" they worked, Walker said.
Once in the prestigious drug unit, it took only a few years before things started to go awry and for the complaints to reach Internal Affairs. The first complaint came in 2002. Another came in '04, another in '05, and three in 2006.
The first settlement for a case with a payout attached - $75,000 - came in February 2004. After that, they kept coming.
Of the 22 complaints filed against Walker, the department sustained just one: from 2003 about a search without proper warrants. Of the 13 now-closed lawsuits filed against Walker, the city paid in seven of the cases for a total of $352,500.