PHILADELPHIA - Six Philadelphia police officers were taken into custody by FBI agents Wednesday as part of a federal corruption probe, reports CBS Philly.
The station says sources confirmed that a federal grand jury has been investigating allegations that city narcotics officers stole drugs and money and even committed robberies of drug dealers, in some cases allegedly using guns to do it.
John Speiser, Brian Reynolds, Michael Spicer, Perry Betts, Thomas Liciardello and Linwood Norman are all facing multiple charges including extortion, robbery, kidnapping and drug-dealing, according to the station. All six have at some point served on the narcotics squad.
Officials said that in one incident, an accused policeman held a drug suspect in a hotel for days, threatening him and making threats against his family. In another alleged incident, a victim was reportedly dangled over the edge of an 18th-floor balcony so that he would give up information.
James McIntyre is suing several of the accused officers, according to the station. He claims he was manhandled and wrongfully arrested, spending six months in jail before charges were withdrawn. "It was a nightmare, an absolute nightmare," he told the station.
The investigation revealed officers would play a "game" with one another, scoring points by coming up with different ways to abuse suspects, CBS Philly reports.
After the indictments were announced, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey said, "I've been a police officer for over 40 years and this is one of the worst cases of corruption I've ever heard."
The incidents reportedly occurred between 2006 and 2012, during which time the accused are said to have robbed drug dealers of cash and other items like expensive watches. Liciardello was allegedly the main culprit in falsifying records after such activities.
Jeffrey Walker, a former cop who was arrested last year and has pleaded guilty to corruption, is a key figure in the case. The station reports he has been cooperating with authorities for at least a year as they worked to corroborate the information he provided, resulting in the six arrests.
"These officers don't represent the majority of this department," Ramsey said Wednesday. "We will continue to be transparent; we will continue to pursue those involved in corruption, and remove those who don't belong in this department."
"Ninety-nine to infinity percent of our officers are hard-working, dedicated, and honest," said Mayor Michael Nutter. "Unfortunately, there are a few who tarnish their badge."
All six suspects pleaded not guilty at their first appearance in federal court, according to the station. Prosecutors said they plan to ask that all six be held in prison without bail as they await trial.
The joint investigation was carried out by members of the FBI and the Philadelphia Police Department.
The commissioner emphasized that the corruption investigation remains open and active, with the possibility that other officers could be charged.