Phila. police investigate one of their own

February 13, 2009 2:53:07 PM PST
The FBI has joined a probe into whether a city police officer falsified evidence to build drug cases, Mayor Michael Nutter said Friday, and reports say the investigation may spread to other officers. Narcotics Officer Jeffrey Cujdik has been under investigation by the police department's internal affairs unit since December based on a complaint from a longtime informant who worked with him.

The informant told police that the statements he put in applications for search warrants did not match the evidence at the time, Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey said at a news conference Friday. There are also allegations that an informant rented a house from Cujdik, a potential violation of department policy concerning police-informant relationships, he said.

"Obviously, we are concerned because of the impact that it could have on cases," said Ramsey, flanked by the mayor and local FBI Special Agent in Charge Janice K. Fedarcyk.

Although newspapers have said the probe may be spreading to other officers, the commisioner said that Cujdik is currently the only focus.

"As far as I know right now, the only person who has been mentioned is this ... officer," Ramsey said.

Cujdik, 34, has been on the force for about 12 years and is known as a busy officer who has built many drug cases.

The Philadelphia Daily News reported in Friday's editions that he earned nearly $50,000 in overtime above his $55,000 base salary in 2007. The Philadelphia Inquirer has reported that he was involved in 198 arrests in 2006 and 2007 that led to 88 guilty verdicts to date, with more cases pending. Ramsey declined to confirm those numbers.

Cujdik's lawyer, George Bochetto, has called the seven-year informant a liar and admitted drug dealer with a lengthy felony record.

Cujdik's badge and service weapon have been taken from him, but he remains in a paid desk job, Ramsey said.

"If any of these allegations are true, we will take ... swift action," Nutter said. "We think that high ethical standards matter."

Local prosecutors have also said they were reviewing criminal cases involving Cujdik that could be compromised if the allegations are true.

The Philadelphia Police Department was rocked in 1995 when five officers were convicted of illegally searching and arresting drug suspects.

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