Acquitted narcotics officers back on the force

Jennifer Kerrigan

The six former narcotics officers who were acquitted offederal charges for wide-ranging corruption including beating and robbing drug dealers have officially been returned to the force.

An arbitrator ruled that the officers will have their badges returned and receive $90,000 in back pay, the Inquirer reported.

According to the Inquirer, Officer Linwood Norman will be assigned to the impound lot. The other five officers — Perry Betts, Thomas Liciardello, Linwood Norman, Brian Reynolds, John Speiser, and Michael Spicer– will be assigned to districts, not the Narcotics Field Unit.

The former officers were acquitted on May 14 of charges includingrobbery, racketeering, civil rights violations and falsifying records. Prosecutors alleged that the officersbeat suspects, stole money and drugs from drug dealers and falsified reports in order to cover up their own wrongdoings.

Nineteen witnesses said the officers stole hundreds of thousands of dollars in drug proceeds between 2006 and 2012.

But the government hung its case on the testimony of former officer Jeffrey Walker,who planted cocaine on a a drug dealer as a ruse to steal the dealer’s house keys. He then stole $15,000 from the man’s home in a 2013 sting orchestrated by an FBI informant. Walker pleaded guilty to related charges last year, but agreed to testify against his former colleagues to gain a lighter sentence.

All of the men except Norman were removed from the Narcotics Field Unit in 2012 after District Attorney Seth Williams wrote a letter saying he could not rely on their testimony. Hundreds of drug cases were withdrawn in the wake of that letter, prosecutors say.

The Defender Association of Philadelphia filed more than 1,000 requests to reopen cases related to these officers.

Meanwhile, more than 100 civil cases against the city related to these officersare pending.

Additional reporting by Dan Kelley

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