Six Philadelphia Police Department Narcotics Field Unit officers were arrested in early morning raids yesterday on charges alleging they beat, kidnapped, and stole more than $500,000 in drugs, cash, and property from suspects between 2006 and 2012.
Five of the officers — Thomas Liciardello, Brian Reynolds, Michael Spicer, Perry Betts, Linwood Norman — face life in prison if convicted on all 26 of the charges against them. John Speiser, the sixth, faces 40 years.
The men have been followed by allegations of criminal behavior for nearly a decade, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports, but previous cases were dropped. The charges against them include stories of dangling suspects from balconies, locking them in hotel rooms, beating them "as the officers kept score on who could inflict the most debilitating injuries," and underreporting seizures of money and drugs, according to the Inquirer. All of the officers pleaded not guilty.
One alleged incident, almost cartoonish in its violence, involved a pizza, a PalmPilot, and a high-rise balcony:
They include a November 2007 incident involving a drug suspect identified in court filings only as "M.C." Encountering the man outside his City Avenue apartment, Betts dragged him inside and shoved him against the wall as the others beat him and asked him to point them to money or drugs, the indictment said.
Walker told authorities that Liciardello ordered him and his partner, Norman, to do whatever it took to get a password to the man's PalmPilot, so Norman hoisted him over an 18th-floor balcony until he gave in.
Other officers stole more than $8,000 in personal property and ordered a pizza while they waited with money found in the man's house, prosecutors said.
Warren Layre, another alleged victim, told the Inquirer the cops kicked in his teeth and beat him with a steel bar during a warrantless raid in 2011. The indictment shows Liciardello reported only $7,000 of the $41,158 they took from Layre's machine shop.
Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey said yesterday that the charges present "one of the worst cases of corruption I have ever heard," adding, "Words just don't describe the degree to which their acts have brought discredit." In the wake of the allegations, Ramsey is seeking a new policy that would transfer narcotics cops to other units every five years to avoid long-term corruption.
[Image via AP]