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Two PA Cops Rob Investigator Posing as Drug Dealer

Two PA Cops Rob Investigator Posing as Drug Dealer

Philadelphia Police officers Christopher Luciano, left, and Sean Alivera, right, have been charged with robbing a an undercover investigator posing as a drug dealer. [Department Photos]

Philadelphia Inquirer via YellowBrix

October 06, 2010

PHILADELPHIA – It started two weeks ago with an informant’s tip, developed during a state drug investigation: A couple of Philadelphia cops had become too cozy with a dealer.

Although the officers patrolled a section of North Philadelphia brimming with temptation, no one at the time suspected them of being dirty, authorities said.

But once investigators began looking into the activities of Officer Sean Alivera and his partner, Christopher Luciano, they quickly realized they had a problem.

The two appeared to be stealing drugs from couriers and giving them to a dealer to sell.

Two weeks after receiving the initial tip from the Bureau of Narcotics Investigations, a sting operation was swiftly arranged, with a young and “extremely brave” Philadelphia police officer posing as a courier.

Monday evening, investigators watched as Alivera and Luciano – on duty and in full uniform – stopped the undercover officer, arrested him, and robbed him of 20 pounds of marijuana and $3,000 in cash, authorities said.

The crime was captured on video surveillance, said District Attorney Seth Williams.

Alivera, 31, and Luciano, 23, were arrested shortly after 7 p.m. Monday at the 25th District headquarters, where they were assigned. They were charged with robbery, kidnapping, conspiracy, and other crimes.

“Police corruption will not be tolerated,” Williams said Tuesday at a news conference announcing the arrests. “We are committed to rooting out bad cops, and we will prosecute them for the disgraceful thugs and scum that they are.”

Both defendants were being held Tuesday on $1 million bail. Court records did not indicate if either had an attorney.

Both will be fired, and no one will wear their badge numbers again, Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey said.

Their scheme, as described by authorities, is nearly identical to another revealed in July, when three officers were accused of stealing heroin and selling the drugs to a dealer for $6,000.

In that case, federal authorities tracked the officers for months as they hatched their plan, with the aid of wiretaps and an undercover Drug Enforcement Administration agent. The indictment, which also charged three dealers and the wife of one officer, contained a thick narrative of events.

By contrast, the arrests of Alivera and Luciano moved so quickly from tip to sting that many details remained cloudy Tuesday.

Authorities described the officers’ drug-dealing partner as an unnamed individual who was supposed to redistribute the stolen marijuana. Williams and Ramsey declined to say what happened to the pilfered marijuana, valued at $24,000.

How the officers came to be associated with the dealer also was unclear. Investigators said they were unsure if Alivera and Luciano had robbed other drug couriers or if other officers could have been involved.

Prosecutors did say that the $3,000 taken from the undercover officer was “found in the defendants’ possession.”

“With this effort to root out corruption, things could get worse before they get better,” Ramsey said.

He said there was no connection between Alivera and Luciano and the three officers arrested in the heroin-stealing case.

One of those officers, Robert Snyder, also worked in the 25th District, but he was in a different squad and was not assigned to the street.

The other two officers in the heroin case, Mark Williams and James Venziale, worked in the adjacent 39th District.

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