|Updated: 5/25/2012 5:22 pm
||Published: 5/24/2012 7:16 pm
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP & KLRT) - Two Little Rock police officers were in court Friday morning after being arrested Thursday on federal drug charges that accused them of driving their marked patrol cars and wearing their uniforms while protecting controlled drug deliveries.
Officers Mark Anthony Jones, 45, and Randall Tremayn Robinson, 39, who are half-brothers, face charges of conspiring to aid and abet and attempting to aid and abet the possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and possessing a firearm while taking part in a drug-trafficking crime, prosecutors said.
Both officers will be held in custody until a June 4th detention hearing at 1pm.
Neither entered a plea during the hearing Friday. They heard the charges against them and were assigned attorneys.
"These are serious charges," Assistant U.S. attorney Pat Harris said. "We'll present evidence at the next hearing."
Both officers have been placed on paid administrative leave, Little Rock police spokesman Lt. Terry Hastings said.
"It is disheartening to know that members of this department are alleged to have violated their oaths and our trust in the manner detailed in the criminal complaint," Police Chief Stuart Thomas said in a statement, which also praised other officers who participated in the investigation.
An FBI agent wrote in an affidavit that Jones was wearing his uniform, carrying a weapon and driving a market patrol car when he was involved in the protection of three controlled drug deliveries orchestrated by a confidential informant working with investigators.
Prosecutors allege that Robinson took part in protecting the third delivery while driving a marked patrol car on duty and in uniform. Investigators said the deliveries totaled about 1,400 pounds of marijuana.
The FBI agent wrote that the informant called Jones in January and arranged to meet him at a Whole Foods grocery store, where Jones would be working an off-duty security job.
During the recorded meeting, the informant said he was on herb, a slang term for marijuana, and needed someone to watch his back. Jones told him to plan it out and let him know what he needed, according to the affidavit.
Jones provided security for a controlled delivery of what he believed to be 200 pounds of pharmaceutical-grade marijuana, according to the affidavit. The FBI agent said Jones received $2,000 for protecting what he thought was a drug shipment.
In March, Jones and Robinson both provided security for the controlled delivery of what they thought was 1,000 pounds of marijuana, according to the affidavit. Both officers were on duty, armed, in uniform and driving marked patrol vehicles, the affidavit said.
While Robinson was providing security to one vehicle, there was a shooting in west Little Rock, and all police cars were ordered to respond.
"As other police cars were traveling to the scene of the shooting, they passed Robinson's patrol car following the vehicle with the marijuana," the affidavit says. The incident was allegedly recorded by cameras in the police cars responding to the shooting.
That same day, Jones picked up two packages each containing $5,000 for their help, according to the affidavit.
Full Press Release
Christopher R. Thyer, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas; Randall C. Coleman, Special Agent in Charge of the Little Rock Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); and Stuart Thomas, Chief of the Little Rock Police Department, announced the arrests early this evening of Little Rock Police Department Officers Mark Anthony Jones, age 45, and Randall Tremayn Robinson, age 38, both of Little Rock. According to an affidavit filed in support of a criminal complaint against the two, Jones and Robinson are half-brothers. The complaint alleges that both committed the offenses of conspiring to aid and abet the possession with intent to distribute over 1,000 pounds of marijuana; attempt to aid and abet the possession with intent to distribute over 1,000 pounds of marijuana; and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.
“Those who are sworn to uphold the law are not above the law themselves,” said Thyer. “The Little Rock Police Department is an institution filled with honest and hard-working professionals who risk their lives daily for the safety of its citizens. As a prosecutor, it is difficult to accept that individual officers would take actions that ultimately harm our community; undermine the efforts of their fellow officers; and weaken the public trust in all of law enforcement. As difficult as it might be, however, it is our duty to fully investigate such allegations and, if substantiated, hold police officers accountable for breaking the law. We owe it to this community and, more importantly, to the upstanding individuals who wear the badge of the LRPD.”
“Today's arrests are bittersweet," stated FBI Special Agent in Charge Randall C. Coleman. "While the allegations that two Little Rock Police Officers participated in corrupt acts are disappointing, this joint investigation between our agency and the Little Rock Police Department represents an extraordinary, collaborative effort at combating corruption.”
Chief Thomas added, “It is disheartening to know that members of this Department are alleged to have violated their oaths and our trust in the manner detailed in the criminal complaint. I am, however, extremely proud of the men and women of this Department who participated in this difficult and demanding investigation and who, throughout, demonstrated professionalism, integrity, and confidentiality of the highest degree. I am also deeply indebted to the United States Attorney’s Office and the Little Rock Office of the FBI which, without hesitation, provided the resources and expertise necessary to fully investigate this matter.”
According to the affidavit filed in support of the complaint, beginning in early 2012, Jones was involved in the protection of three controlled drug deliveries while driving a marked patrol car, on-duty, armed, and in uniform. Robinson was involved with Jones in the third controlled drug delivery, which occurred on March 22, 2012. While protecting the third marijuana delivery, Robinson was also driving a marked patrol car, on-duty, armed and in uniform. The deliveries totaled a purported quantity of approximately 1,400 pounds of marijuana and were all carried out through the use of a confidential informant working on behalf of investigating agents.
As detailed in the affidavit, the informant’s conversations with Jones and Robinson were recorded and all of their activities were documented through video recording and aerial surveillance. These recordings include post-delivery recordings of money being paid by the informant to Jones for the protection he and---in the case of the last delivery---Robinson, had provided. The payments to the two officers totaled $14,000. Notably, the affidavit describes a February 23, 2012, incident in which Jones actually accompanied the informant on a trip to Los Angeles, California to meet the informant’s purported supplier of marijuana. During dinner, the supplier (who was actually an undercover FBI agent) and Jones engaged in recorded conversation about increasing the size of the marijuana loads being brought into Little Rock.
The defendants were taken into custody without incident and will have initial appearances before United States Magistrate Judge Jerome T. Kearney tomorrow, May 25th, at 11:00 a.m.. The United States will be seeking pretrial detention for both men. As with all arrests pursuant to criminal complaint, the matter will be presented for formal indictment by the grand jury at its June session.
This investigation was conducted by the Little Rock Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in cooperation with, and with substantial support from, the Little Rock Police Department. Assistant United States Attorneys Pat Harris and Anne Gardner are prosecuting the case for the United States.
An indictment contains only allegations. All defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.