Former Cop Pleads Guilty to Accepting $14K in Bribes in Pot Trafficking Case

The former police officer turned in his badge and gun this week after pleading guilty in federal court to accepting $14,000 in bribes in what authorities say was a drug trafficking scheme in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania.

An Oakland, California police officer pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit bribery in a $14,000 pot trafficking scheme, federal prosecutors announced on Wednesday. The officer, San Francisco resident Michael Suen, was sentenced to two years in prison after he admitted to accepting bribes in exchange for protection from SWAT teams searching his home for marijuana. Suen, who worked in the same department as the other defendants, was arrested after he accepted an envelope containing $2,000 in cash.

 

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For allegedly accepting the bribes, Rudolph Petersen faces up to ten years in federal prison.

A web of lies and deceit worthy of a Breaking Bad episode was constructed by a dishonest police officer in California who pled guilty to taking bribes.

According to a press release from the US Department of Justice, Rudolph Petersen, 34, pleaded guilty to a federal bribery charge for accepting at least $14,000 in cash from a drug trafficker in exchange for escorting massive shipments of marijuana and other drugs and searching a police database to provide the trafficker information on suspected snitches.

According to his guilty bargain, Petersen, who worked for the Montebello Police Department for approximately four years, solicited and accepted numerous large-sum cash payments from an accused gang member and drug trafficker. According to prosecutors, Petersen confessed to receiving a total of $14,000 in cash bribes since 2018, mainly for delivering a U-Haul full of marijuana and smelling out individuals suspected of collaborating with other cops.

Peterson was the insider who knew all there was to know about the plea bargains and the people involved.

During a meal in 2018, a narcotics trafficker known only as “co-schemer 2” promised Petersen he’d be put “on his payroll” and paid him $500 via a middleman, according to federal authorities. 

“Three months later, Petersen—who was armed and dressed in a security guard uniform that looked like an official police uniform—successfully escorted a white U-Haul truck containing what Petersen believed to be illegally grown marijuana from Fontana to a location off California State Route 60 near Rowland Heights,” according to the report. “Petersen returned to Co-Schemer 2’s house, where he was given a paper bag containing $10,000 in cash. Petersen acknowledged that he escorted at least one more narcotics shipment for Co-Schemer 2.”

Prosecutors claimed Petersen confessed to accompanying at least one additional narcotics shipment.

Furthermore, Petersen admitted to accessing a law enforcement database to gather information on a person Co-Schemer 2 referred to as a “snitch” who had allegedly assisted law enforcement in intercepting a cocaine shipment. 

Petersen provided information on the “snitch” individual, as well as information on others suspected of snitching, to Co-Schemer 2 for a bribery fee of $500-1,000 each database search.

Co-Schemer 2 paid Petersen $1,000 in September 2020 to investigate whether tracking devices found on cars he and another co-schemer utilized were placed by a state or federal law enforcement inquiry, according to police. Petersen confessed to taking bribes worth at least $14,000.

Petersen will be sentenced on January 11, 2022, by United States District Judge Stanley Blumenfeld Jr., who has set a statutory maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison for him.

Homeland Security Investigations looked into the situation. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Ian V. Yanniello of the International Narcotics, Money Laundering, and Racketeering Section.

More alleged bribes in the cannabis industry in Central California

Unfortunately, when it comes to police enforcement and other individuals in authority, such as public officials, Petersen’s situation isn’t unique in central California.

The FBI investigated whether public officials in Sacramento, California received bribes in exchange for preferential treatment of applicants for cannabis business licenses in the city in February 2019.

Sacramento authorities looked into how cannabis company owner Garib Karapetyan and his partners were able to get eight dispensary licenses in the city, accounting for one-third of the total number of shops. 

Andrey Kukushkin, a Ukrainian businessman who was one of Karapetyan’s partners, was one of four individuals charged by federal prosecutors for his role in a scam.

Former President Donald Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, was also named as a suspect in the investigation. Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, two additional individuals charged in the case, are Rudy Giuliani’s acquaintances.

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