DETROIT (WWJ/AP) - A former Highland Park police officer has pleaded guilty to extortion and protecting a shipment of cocaine.
Shawn Williams, 33, is one of four officers charged earlier this year in the case. Williams this week admitted in Detroit federal court to taking money in exchange for protecting a shipment of cocaine.
Williams admitted that in late 2012 and early 2013, he agreed with three other Highland Park police officers — 29-year-old Anthony Bynum, 38-year-old Price Montgomery and 55-year-old Craig Clayton — to take money in exchange for protecting a four-kilogram shipment of cocaine. Williams said he was paid $1,000.
Bynum, Clayton and Montgomery were also charged in the case. Clayton pleaded guilty in March.
With their guilty pleas, Williams and Clayton face a maximum of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade said their investigation into the misconduct began in August after Bynum and Montgomery arrested a man for carrying a firearm. The officers allegedly beat the man and stole his jewelry and money. According to court records, the officers later indicated to the man that if he paid them money, they would help get his criminal case dismissed.
Shortly thereafter, the police chief of Highland Park received a complaint about the situation and contacted the FBI. Federal investigators met with the man, who agreed to become an informant.
McQuade said Bynum and Montgomery were then caught on video accepting $10,000 in cash after making good on their part of the bargain by not showing up at the man's arraignment, resulting in his case being dismissed.
McQuade said Bynum's and Montgomery's relationship with the man evolved to include drug trafficking when the officers agreed to transport and deliver two kilograms of "sham cocaine."
Bynum and Montgomery then recruited two more officers, Williams and Clayton, to help deliver a second larger shipment of the fake cocaine on Jan. 23, McQuade said.
"The four officers went to Oakland Mall where they assisted in what they believed was a four kilogram shipment of cocaine. Each of those officers … was paid either $1,000 or $15,000 by the source for protecting that shipment. Each officer carried a gun, and some of them also carried their badges while they were protecting that load," said McQuade.
The case was investigated by agents of the FBI.
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