A former Arkansas State Police lieutenant admitted Wednesday that for seven years, he stole confiscated illegal drugs from a police evidence room he supervised, making more than $200,000 in profits by reselling them.
The admission by former Lt. Sedrick Reed, 44, was part of a plea agreement approved by U.S. District Judge Bill Wilson. In return for Reed's guilty plea to a charge of conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance, four other charges against him were dismissed.
He faces at least 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10 million when sentenced at a later date.
A jury trial remains scheduled to begin Oct. 7 for Reed's cousin, Lamont Johnson, 46, although it is uncertain whether the trial will proceed without Reed. In May, Wilson found Johnson mentally incompetent to stand trial, based on a court-ordered mental evaluation and a psychiatric report that was sealed. Wilson ordered Johnson to be committed to a psychiatric facility and to be re-evaluated every four months to determine if he has regained competency and is able to stand trial.
Reed was an 18-year veteran of the state police when he and Johnson, who prosecutors say was a known drug dealer, were arrested last July after FBI agents executed search warrants at their Little Rock homes. The agents reported finding remnants of drugs that had been tested at the state Crime Laboratory and stored in the police property room, as well as stolen guns and large amounts of cash. Reed was fired shortly after his arrest.
On Wednesday, he stood before Wilson in a navy blue shirt and pants bearing the logo of the Pulaski County jail, towering over his attorney, John C. Collins of Little Rock.
He hesitated when asked if he had read and understood all the details of his 15-page plea agreement. Collins said Reed "has difficulty agreeing with" part of the plea addendum, which is a secondary agreement that is filed in every case, always under seal, for the purpose of laying out any potential cooperation agreements, or lack thereof.
Wilson paused the proceeding briefly to allow Reed to visit privately with Collins, then asked Reed if he still wanted to go through with the plea.
"Yes, sir," he replied.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Julie Peters then told the judge what the government was prepared to prove if Reed had gone to trial, and Reed agreed that the facts were correct.
According to Peters and the written plea agreement, from 2006 until his arrest in 2013, Reed stole seized cocaine, marijuana and heroin from the property room he supervised and gave the drugs to others to sell. He also diverted marijuana that was seized in a 2006 traffic stop for resale, without first taking it to the state police evidence room.
Between 2011 and 2013, Peters said, Reed stole the drugs from the evidence room on "multiple occasions," at times replacing packages of marijuana with packages of hay, or packages of cocaine with wrapped blocks.
He received a portion of the profit from the resale of the drugs, making more than $200,000 throughout the seven-year period, he admitted.
Peters said that Reed once removed a seized gun from the evidence locker and sold it. She said he stored stolen contraband in his home "and distributed it for resale as needed."
Beginning in 2012, Reed began supplying Johnson with cocaine taken from the property room for resale in central Arkansas, supplying his cousin with more than 500 grams of the drug through 2013, she said.
Reed's plea agreement stipulates that he conspired to deliver between 5 kilograms and 15 kilograms of the drug.
A joint news release was issued later Wednesday by U.S. Attorney Chris Thyer; David T. Resch, special agent in charge of the Little Rock field office of the FBI; and Col. Stan Witt, director of the state police. The release noted that the case against Reed stemmed from an investigation by the FBI's ArkTrust Public Corruption Task Force with the full cooperation of the state police. The investigation was referred to as Operation Diverted Justice.
"An investigation of this nature is challenging to conduct," Thyer said in the news release. "I commend the FBI and the Arkansas State Police for their diligence and cooperation to fully investigate this case even though it was another law enforcement official. Citizens of the Eastern District of Arkansas deserve to know that their law enforcement members are trustworthy, law-abiding citizens, and when they are not, they will be held accountable for their illegal actions."
In addition to the drug conspiracy charge to which Reed pleaded guilty on Wednesday, he faced charges of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime, and possession of both cocaine and heroin, both with the intent to distribute it.
Johnson is facing the conspiracy charge and the gun charge, as well as charges of being a felon in possession of a firearm and possessing a defaced firearm.
According to testimony in hearings last year shortly after the men's arrests, they are cousins who grew up in the same household. FBI Agent Mike Lowe said agents found more than 2.2 pounds of cocaine and 6 to 7 ounces of heroin in a shoebox in Reed's bedroom closet and another trooper's missing .40-caliber handgun in one of Reed's five cars.
Lowe said that inside a storage building at Reed's home at 8303 Winterwood Drive, agents found a suitcase full of ripped-open evidence wrappers that had once contained cocaine and heroin that had been seized by other troopers during traffic stops on state highways, before being tested in the Crime Lab. Lowe also testified that agents found $13,000 in cash in the backs of framed pictures on Reed's living-room walls.
In Johnson's house at 4406 Arehart Drive, Lowe said, agents found nearly $58,000 in cash in the attic and two guns, one of which had been reported stolen and the other had its serial number scraped off.
Reed has remained jailed since his arrest, after U.S. Magistrate Judge Tom Ray determined that he presented a risk of flight if released. Wilson ordered him to remain in custody until his sentencing, which hasn't yet been scheduled.
Reed is a former undercover narcotics investigator and a former president of the Arkansas chapter of the National Black State Troopers Coalition. In that capacity, he sued the state police in federal court in 2001 claiming racial discrimination when he was passed over repeatedly for promotions and transfers despite scoring well on tests. He dropped the lawsuit in 2005 in exchange for a salary increase to $50,000 and a $7,651 payment, according to Pulaski County Circuit Court records.
Reed's plea agreement requires him to turn over to the government four bank accounts, real estate at 2505 S. Tyler in Little Rock and at 3044 Arkansas 19 North in Prescott, as well as the house on Winterwood Drive; $30,073 in cash; four guns; and four vehicles, including a 2004 Chevrolet Suburban, a 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle, a 1964 Chevrolet Impala and a 2006 Chevrolet Colorado.
Metro on 07/31/2014
Print Headline: Ex-trooper: Guilty in drug case