|Updated: 12/10/2012 7:17 pm
||Published: 12/10/2012 11:08 am
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Prosecutors on Monday said a former police officer took money from a drug trafficker and escorted him from an east Arkansas town to a bridge linking the state to Mississippi.
What that officer, former Helena-West Helena Police Sgt. Marlene Kalb, didn't know was that the drug trafficker was working with the FBI, federal prosecutor Julie Peters said on the first day of Kalb's jury trial.
"There are good cops and there are dirty cops," Peters said, adding that evidence would show Kalb was the latter.
Kalb, 49, has maintained her innocence since she was indicted last year in an investigation called "Operation Delta Blues" that focused on corruption and drug trafficking in east Arkansas.
She pleaded not guilty to money laundering, extortion and drug-related charges.
Four other former law enforcement officers have pleaded guilty to various charges in the case. Roxanne Davis, a former probation and parole officer accused of collecting money from drug traffickers under her supervision, has pleaded not guilty to extortion charges. She is scheduled to go on trial in May.
Kalb's trial is expected to wrap up by the end of the week. She could face up to 120 years in prison if she is convicted of all charges, prosecutors said.
On Monday, Kalb's lawyer, John Wesley Hall Jr., disputed the portrait of Kalb that Peters painted in her opening statements.
"Marlene Kalb is not a dirty cop," Hall said.
A grand jury accused Kalb of taking hundreds of dollars from someone posing as a drug trafficker last year and misusing her authority as a police officer to escort that person and a controlled substance from the Arkansas-Mississippi border through Helena-West Helena.
The grand jury also charged Kalb and another former police officer, Robert "Bam Bam" Rogers, of attempting to possess a mixture containing cocaine with the intent to distribute it.
Rogers pleaded guilty to an extortion charge in January. He was sentenced in August to serve 14 months in prison.
Former Marvell police officer Robert Wahls was sentenced to two years in prison after he pleaded guilty to extortion and money laundering this year. Another former law enforcement officer, Hermon Eaton, pleaded guilty to similar charges and was sentenced to 16 months in prison.
Former Phillips County Sheriff's Deputy Winston Dean Jackson was sentenced to more than six years in prison after pleading guilty to a drug conspiracy charge.
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