By Robert Kahn, Courthouse News
A Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department officer was arrested Tuesday and charged with taking bribes “to oversee the delivery of narcotics,” federal prosecutors said.
Sheriff’s Officer Kenneth Collins, 50, of Chino, was arrested with three other men as they arrived in Pasadena to provide security for delivering 45 lbs. of cocaine and more than 13 lbs. of methamphetamine from Pasadena to Las Vegas, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a statement.
Collins allegedly told FBI undercover officers that he and his team would “take calculated steps to prevent legitimate law enforcement from intercepting the drugs — in exchange for cash payments as high as $250,000,” the federal prosecutor said.
The statement continued: “In justifying the high fees for his services, Collins allegedly told an undercover FBI agent ‘we’re cops’ and ‘all of our transports make it through.’”
Arrested with Collins were David Easter, 51, of Los Angeles; Grant Valencia, 34, of Pomona; and Maurice Desi Font, 56, of South Los Angeles. Font was to be charged in a second indictment late Tuesday, the U.S. attorney said, because he showed up unexpectedly as part of Collins’s “team.”
An affidavit in support of the criminal complaint against the first three men indicated that Collins was not a newcomer to crime.
Citing the affidavit, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said: “Collins claimed to have a very ‘professional’ ‘team’ comprised of ‘cops’ who ‘travel…with guns.’ He described how he and two others recently ‘handled’ a situation for a ‘client’ in Boston by setting a luxury truck on fire.”
The statement continued: “During a meeting in September, the undercover FBI agent told Collins that he was having an ‘issue’ with a person in Northern California, and in exchange for $2,000, Collins performed and delivered a ‘work-up’ on that person, which included obtaining that person’s home address and driver’s license number, according to the affidavit.
“When Collins delivered the ‘work-up’ in early October, the deputy sheriff allegedly said that he could provide additional services in relation to the Northern California person: ‘We can definitely, you know, kind of impact him a little bit.’”
If convicted of drug trafficking conspiracy, the men could be sentenced to life in prison.