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3 cops busted in corruption case

MEMPHIS, TN – Three Memphis cops were busted by the FBI on Friday, February 26, 2010, in a police corruption case that took MPD Director Larry Godwin by surprise.

Three of his officers, including a veteran of the force, are charged with taking thousands of dollars in bribes from a local nightclub owner in exchange for information and protection.

The FBI picked the officers up Friday for questioning. During their interviews, all three admitted to taking payoffs from the club owner. They accepted the bribes from last September up until this week, grabbing the cash while on duty and in uniform.

“I’m fed up with it,” Director Godwin said during a news conference at the U.S. Attorney’s office just hours after he received word of the arrests. Godwin says he was at a retreat with other top law enforcement officials when he got the news, and he was both shocked and angered by it.

Lt. Tim Green, a 24-year veteran of the department, along with Patrolman Chris Crawford and Patrolman Mike Young face federal bribery and extortion charges.

“I’ve said that before I retire,” Godwin told reporters, “I will rid this department of criminal activity and thugs. And I’m sick of it because it overshadows the hardwork of every good officer in this county.”

U.S. Attorney Lawrence Laurenzi says Crawford and Young were paid $100 a pop and Lt. Green received more than $1,000 every time they paid a visit to the club.

Laurenzi says the officers would get paid for “cleaning the lot”, forcing patrons to leave the parking lot after the club closed. They also notified the club’s owners about police raids and an ongoing OCU investigation. And Lt. Green is accused of falsifying police reports to cover up crimes at the club.

The information and money were usually traded in the club’s bathroom or office, and most exchanges were recorded by the FBI on audio and videotape.

Federal investigators say Lt. Green received 11 payments since October, totaling $8,000.

Officer Crawford accepted 14 payments, totaling more than $1,400.

Officer Young received 27 payments, adding up to more than $2,600.

The cops’ bribery scheme was discovered while the FBI was conducting an investigation into the club’s activities. Their source inside the club, according to investigators, was an individual who was brought in for questioning in September. This person claimed to be a silent partner in the nightclub with a $15,000 to $20,000 investment in the business. That source then began working as a manager at the club and provided federal investigators with most of the information contained in the criminal complaint.

With the arrests of Green, Crawford and Young, this brings the number of Memphis Police Officers accused of wrongdoing in recent months to 23.

“We understand that the community expects and they demand,” says Laurenzi, “that there not be corruption in law enforcement. Everybody up here understands that good and effective law enforcement starts with honest law enforcement.”

“I’ll tell you this,” says Director Godwin, “you can send this message: you come on the Memphis Police Department and you think you’re going to commit criminal activity, we will lock you up.

Lt. Green is suspended from the MPD with pay. Officers Crawford and Young both resigned. All three have bonds set at $10,000. When released, they’ll be subject to home detention and electronic monitoring.

The club owner faces no charges at this time and federal investigators won’t identify the nightclub involved, saying it’s an ongoing investigation.

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