On October 4, 2007, 42-year-old Albert Mitchel was arrested by members of the Brooklyn South Narcotics Unit in Brooklyn, New York, and charged with possession of 17 bags of crack cocaine.
After four court appearance, Mitchel pleaded guilty in Kings County Superior Court to possession of narcotics.
While awaiting sentencing, Sean Johnstone, a member of the Brooklyn South Narcotics Unit who was involved in the arrest of Mitchel, and Julio Alvarez, another narcotics unit officer, claimed to have recovered 17 plastic bags of cocaine, rather than the 28 bags they actually recovered from a different drug suspect in Brooklyn. A day later, Johnstone, in a police vehicle, was overheard on a departmental tape recording bragging to another officer about the practice of keeping drugs to give them to informants, officials said.
In December 2007, Johnstone and Alvarez were each charged with official misconduct, falsifying business records and filing false documents. Ultimately, the Brooklyn South Narcotics unit scandal widened to include charges against other officers and the dismissal of hundreds of pending drug cases in which the officers were involved. Johnstone and several other officers were convicted of misconduct. One officer pleaded guilty and testified at the trial of other defendants that it was a routine practice to plant drugs on defendants so that detectives could meet arrest quotas.
In January 2008, the Kings County District Attorney’s Office moved to vacate the guilty plea and dismiss the charge against Mitchel, who was released.
– Maurice Possley