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Archive for Monday, July 18, 2011

KCK officers charged after FBI sting

July 18, 2011, 2:35 p.m. Updated July 18, 2011, 5:38 p.m.

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— Three Kansas City, Kan., police officers have pleaded not guilty to federal charges accusing them of stealing video games and money while serving search warrants, including one that was part of a federal sting operation.

Officers Jeffrey M. Bell, Darryl M. Forrest and Dustin Sillings were accused of stealing video game equipment during several searches at residents' homes last year.

According to the indictment unsealed Monday, the men also were accused of stealing video game equipment, other electronic equipment and $640 in cash at a residence that had been set up as part of an FBI sting.

U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said at a news conference before the men were arraigned Monday that he wanted the indictment to "send a larger message." He said he believes there are other victims who have not been identified.

Grissom encouraged anyone who has been the subject of recent search warrants and who believe police stole from them to call authorities.

"Police officers are given tremendous power to fight crime and to keep us safe," Grissom said. "It is absolutely vital that we assure they do not abuse that authority."

Bell and Forrest were charged with conspiracy against rights, deprivation of rights and theft. Sillings was charged with conspiracy against rights and theft.

They each face up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted on the conspiracy charge, Grissom said. The other two charges carry a maximum one-year prison term and a $100,000 fine.

The officers, all members of the Police Department's SCORE unit, which is equivalent to a SWAT team, entered not guilty pleas at their first court hearing in the case Monday. The men and their lawyers declined comment after the brief arraignment.

They're scheduled to appear in court again on Sept. 6.

Mayor Joe Reardon said in a statement that while the "incident is disappointing," he has confidence in Police Chief Rick Armstrong.

"I applaud his decision to launch the internal investigation which led to these indictments," Reardon said.

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