Six officers in Philadelphia's Narcotics Field Unit were among the biggest crooks in the city over a six-year period in which they used violence and threats to steal more than $500,000 in cash and drugs, according to a federal indictment. The 26-count indictment against the six men, who were arrested at their homes yesterday, includes charges of robbery, extortion, kidnapping, and drug dealing, CNN reports. The officers have been under suspicion for years: Dozens of civil rights lawsuits against them are pending, and hundreds of cases they were involved in may now be dismissed. The feds were able to build a case against the men with the help of another former member of the unit who pleaded guilty to robbery and gun charges this year, sources tell the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Prosecutors say the men doctored police reports to conceal their theft and brutalized suspects who resisted, dangling one over an 18th-floor balcony and keeping another hostage in a hotel room for days. The officers pleaded not guilty at an initial hearing yesterday and are being held without bond. "My client is a good, decent family man, presumed innocent by law," an attorney for one of the officers tells the Inquirer. "These are merely accusations by a bunch of police-hating drug dealers." The special agent in charge of the FBI's Philadelphia office says it doesn't matter who the victims were. "That many of the victims were drug dealers, not Boy Scouts, is irrelevant," he says. "This corrupt group chose to make their own rules. Now they will have to answer for it." Five of the six face up to life in prison if convicted; a sixth faces up to 40 years. (Read more corruption stories.)