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Police Officer Bill

11 Years, Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine

My name is Bonnie, and I am writing on behalf of my family. We are just a few of the victims of our nation's ludicrous war on drugs. My husband Bill was a fourth-generation cop. His entire family history can be found in our city's police department.

He was branded by the ranks of his superiors as a troublemaker, misfit and a rogue cop when he refused to make "drops and pickups" from city merchants and bookies. This is what his family had always done, but times have changed. Bill was "old school," and always treated people fairly, no matter who they are. His co-workers and superiors turned their backs on him because he rode a Harley Davidson, on his own time, and associated with bikers who he called his "extended family."

After separating from his first wife, Bill returned home for five years to care for her when he learned she was dying of breast cancer. His friends from the bike shop supported him during this emotional and difficult time, while he raised his two children after her death -- but his fellow officers didn't.

When I was first introduced to his biker friends, there always seemed to be an oath of brotherhood. Everyone looked out for each other -- that is until three particular "brothers" were arrested and charged with distributing large quantities of pure, uncut methamphetamine. The federal government estimated that approximately 25 pounds of this drug were distributed from 1996 to 1999. The DEA then indicted and arrested my husband on a single count of conspiracy with the intent to distribute. He was charged as a co-conspirator because the prosecution said that Bill had obtained information in order to further the conspiracy.

However, the co-conspirators stated during their individual debriefings that Bill did not know of any transactions that took place, and that he was never present when business was conducted. But the prosecution stated that due to his position with the police department, that he should have known what was happening, and therefore charged him with the 25 pounds of "meth" that the co-conspirators were charged with. The co-conspirators signed plea agreements that resulted in substantially lighter sentences for themselves, and brought my family into this nightmare as a result.

Our attorney immediately filed for a writ of discovery, but it took the prosecution 8 weeks to fulfill our request. But just four days prior to Bill's trial, we finally received the writ of discovery, which was not sufficient time to make a decision based upon the findings. At this point, my husband did what he believed to be best for himself and his family -- he signed a plea agreement stating that he could receive a downward departure from the sentencing guidelines if he agreed to provide "substantial assistance" to the government. But he knew absolutely nothing because he was not involved.

If he would have declined to sign the plea agreement, then he would have been sentenced to considerably more time than just the 11 years. Bill is 54 years old, and when you think about it, anything over five years is a death sentence. Bill was set up by previously-convicted felons, who knew how the system worked, and were willing to tell the government whatever they wanted to hear in order to catch a break. The government chose to believe the lies of these felons, who knew how the system's game is played, rather than the testimony of my husband, who spent the last 30 years of his life caring for the citizens around him.

All of this was done without ever coming to search our home in order to try and collect evidence to support the charges. The prosecution searched the homes of the co-conspirators, found evidence to support them, and still allowed them to sign plea agreements that resulted in substantially lighter sentences. If my husband had been a drug dealer, he could have "snitched" and received a reduction as well. But my husband is not a dealer. He knew nothing, and now we are living this nightmare.

Bill needed drug treatment, that not only involved himself, but his entire family. He was not a conspirator, but a person who used methamphetamine. What good does it do to tear a family apart? My husband, like so many others, have only hurt themselves with drug abuse, but are punished more harshly than criminals who prey on victims, like rapists, robbers and even murderers. And even murderers, as well as the "kingpins," know that their sentences will be greatly reduced if they have information to share. They are allowed to barter their way out of a lengthy sentence by "snitching" out users/abusers who have no testimony to give. Where is the justice in all of this?

My husband now resides 400 miles away, making 12 cents an hour. I am working 12 hours a day to pay the bills and am raising our family all alone. If there was an option for a treatment program that allowed him to remain at home, our own insurance could have paid for it. The cost of treatment and home confinement could have been paid out of our own pockets and would have had a much greater and positive impact upon us all. We could have been directly involved with his treatment and supported each other while keeping the family together. This would have saved taxpayers about $2000 a month. Sadly, though, I fear we will be living this nightmare for a long time to come.

Updated -12/21/2000

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