|A former reserve officer with the Memphis Police Department, Andrew Hunt, was sentenced today to 19 years in prison and 3 years of supervised release for his part in plotting and taking part in robbery and kidnapping while on duty, the Justice Department announced.
In addition, Hunt will pay $300 in special assessments for his involvement in a conspiracy to deprive citizens of their civil rights, for extortion affecting interstate commerce, and for using a firearm in the commission of a crime of violence or a drug trafficking crime. Hunt pleaded guilty in Sept. 2006.
â€œIt is profoundly sad when one individual abuses a position of power and public trust,â€ said Wan J. Kim, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. â€œThe Civil Rights Division is committed to prosecuting all cases of official misconduct and to bringing these individuals to justice.â€
As part of his guilty plea, the defendant acknowledged that a co-conspirator arranged to purchase a kilogram of cocaine from an individual known as "J.J." Officer Hunt, while in uniform, on duty, and using a marked squad car, made a traffic stop of â€œJ.J.â€ prior to the transaction and robbed him of $1,000 in cash, a $15,000 watch, and a cellular telephone. Hunt told â€œJ.J.â€ he would return the kilogram of cocaine if J.J. produced $15,000 in cash. The next day, â€œJ.J.â€ produced $9,500, but Hunt took the money and kept the cocaine.
The defendant further acknowledged that on Sept. 12, 2005, a co-conspirator arranged the purchase of four kilograms of cocaine from Pedro Moreno and Victor Saucedo. While in uniform, armed, and driving a marked squad car, Hunt and his co-conspirators robbed the men of the cocaine and kidnapped them. When the men could not produce the ransom demanded by Hunt, he arrested them for possession of 189.5 grams of cocaine and split the remainder of the four kilograms of cocaine with his co-conspirators.
In related matters, former Memphis police officers Arthur Sease, Antoine Owens, and Alexander Johnson were charged in September in a 50-count indictment charging conspiracy to violate civil rights, conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, violation of civil rights, extortion, possession of controlled substances with intent to distribute, and use of a firearm in the commission of a crime of violence or a drug trafficking crime.
The Civil Rights Division is committed to the vigorous enforcement of every federal criminal civil rights statute, such as those laws that prohibit the willful use of excessive force or other acts of misconduct by law enforcement officials. In fiscal year 2006, nearly 50 percent of the cases brought by the Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division involved such prosecutions. Since fiscal year 2001, the Division has convicted 50 percent more defendants for excessive force and official misconduct than in the preceding six years.
Assistant United States Attorney Steve Parker of the Western District of Tennessee and Trial Attorney Jonathan Skrmetti from the Civil Rights Division are prosecuting the case.