April 25, 2007, 05:51 PM
... because sometimes we need protection from those who "protect and serve". This guy was doing neither. I knew him quite well, he worked security at the bank where I am employed. Real nice guy, I never would have thought this of him.
Officer linked to drug ring
April 25, 2007, 07:14 PM
Because links go down
Officer linked to drug ring
Larry Lightning pleads not guilty to conspiracy, extortion charges
BY TIM CHITWOOD AND LILY GORDON - Staff Writers
A fired Columbus police patrol officer pleaded not guilty in Federal Court on Monday following his indictment Thursday by a federal grand jury in Macon on three felony charges.
U.S. Magistrate G. Mallon Faircloth set bond at $100,000 for Larry Lightning, 47, who faces charges of conspiracy to possess crack cocaine with intent to distribute, extortion by a public official and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. If convicted of all charges, Lightning could face life in prison.
Lightning was arrested Friday at the SunTrust bank building, 1246 First Ave., where the FBI has its local office. Columbus Police Chief Ricky Boren said Lightning, a 23-year veteran of the department, was fired at 5 p.m. that day.
Boren said authorities initiated an "active" investigation into Lightning's activities 14 months ago, but the case could be as old as two years -- linking it to an extensive drug investigation that resulted in what investigators have called the largest drug bust in Columbus history.
Lightning's indictment on conspiracy with intent to distribute cocaine accuses him of acting in concert with Eric Virden to deal in more than 50 grams of crack cocaine.
Virden was among four suspects arrested May 4, 2005, as authorities raided 12 places in what they estimated to be a $37 million drug bust. In one Miller Road storage facility officers found 478 pounds of cocaine and 1,855 pounds of marijuana. Further investigation into that drug ring led the area's multi-agency Metro Narcotics Task Force to seize an additional $5.5 million worth of cocaine in Harris County in February 2006, authorities said.
Lightning's attorney, Mark Shelnutt, said he represented Torrence Hill, one of the defendants in that 2005 drug case, and was caught completely off guard when Lightning was linked to it during a hearing in federal court Monday.
"I've been involved in that case since the very beginning," Shelnutt said later Monday. "I've seen every piece of paper. They've turned over everything to me. That's why I'm so surprised. I've never seen his name in any of the discovery on those cases, alleging he was involved in any way in that."
Now he wants to know how investigators intend to prove Lightning has some connection to that, he said: "We'll be filing motions to see what evidence they have that links him to Mr. Virden."
Lightning's second indictment accuses him of possessing a firearm "in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime," in this case a handgun he had between Jan. 1 and May 30, 2005.
The third count in Lightning's indictment, extortion by a public official, states the police officer took money Jan. 11 from an undercover GBI agent, Marko Jones, "by wrongful use of actual or threatened force, violence, or fear, or under color of official right."
Though investigators would not offer a more detailed explanation of the charges against Lightning, Assistant U.S. Attorney Melvin Hyde in the court hearing Monday referred to that federal extortion count as a "shakedown" in which Lightning allegedly took money from someone he believed to be an average citizen.
April 25, 2007, 10:04 PM
Quis Custodiet Custodes Ipsos?
April 25, 2007, 10:11 PM
We do, the free citizen.
I Like, "If Gold should rust, what should Iron do?" (Chaucer asking what happend to a flock if the pastor is corrupt--not sure if it is in the bible but it might be).
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