Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officers Gerald Holas and Jason Ross are accused of helping a suspected drug dealer avoid police detection and protecting his illegal drug activity, according to the FBI.
Holas is accused of warning the alleged drug dealer about an impending drug bust earlier this month. He's also accused of advising the suspected dealer to move because his home was “hot” and that police might soon swoop in.
The two officers also allegedly gave the suspected dealer the address of a person who had robbed him, allowing the dealer to seek revenge.
The details about the police officers' activities were revealed in a 27-page affidavit unsealed in federal court in Charlotte Tuesday.
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Holas and Ross, both 35, resigned last week and were charged with conspiring with alleged dealer David C. Lockhart to distribute crack cocaine. The charge is punishable by up to life in prison and carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years.
Lockhart, 25, also is charged in connection with the conspiracy.
The affidavit says the former officers have admitted to authorities that they protected Lockhart's cocaine distribution, but say they did so in exchange for Lockhart providing them information they could use to arrest his suppliers and customers. The officers also admitted participating in a number of acts to further Lockhart's drug distribution, the court document says.
Lockhart has admitted that he moved large quantities of cocaine with others, the affidavit says, and confirmed the officers' account that he would get their protection in exchange for information that would help in arresting others.
In a case that has drawn criticism from police brass and the Charlotte mayor, the FBI disclosed a series of incidents linking the officers and Lockhart.
Among the incidents cited in the affidavit is a May 14 police search during which Lockhart gets advice from officer Holas in series of phone calls.
It began when police went to Lockhart's home and searched him and several others in the front yard. They suspected that Lockhart was involved in distributing cocaine and might have a weapon, the affidavit says.
Electronic surveillance showed a series of six phone conversations between Lockhart and officer Holas during the search. Lockhart initiated several contacts, and Holas also phoned Lockhart, the court document says.
The affidavit details this exchange between the two:
Officer Holas: “Just you know, whatever it is, just be as cooperative as you can be, but you don't have to let…”
Lockhart interrupts: “I'm trying to be cooperative, man. But they just messing with me, man.”
Holas: “Are they detaining you?”
Lockhart: “I don't know if they detaining me or what.”
The call ended with Holas instructing Lockhart to “get in the house” once the search was over.
Holas soon called back, the affidavit says, and the pair talked for eight minutes and 22 seconds.
During that conversation, Lockhart spelled out what had happened.
Lockhart told Holas that things could have gone bad for him but that police hadn't found any illegal drugs or guns during the search. He told Holas that he had been selling drugs to a “white girl” just before police arrived, but that he was not “dirty” when police showed up, the affidavit says.
Holas told Lockhart the girl must have been an informant and instructed Lockhart to move to a new location because his current address was now “hot” and that the investigating officers will come back, the affidavit says.
Lockhart then instructed a relative to come get him and hid his drugs, money and a gun based on Holas' warning, the affidavit says.
The affidavit also describes a June 3 incident in which Holas tips off Lockhart about a possible drug bust at a hotel.
Holas was working that night with a drug interdiction team around Sugar Creek Road and Interstate 85 where illegal drug activity was suspected at several hotels.
At 9:32 p.m., officer Holas phoned Lockhart and asked him if he was at the Economy Inn. When Lockhart said yes, Holas asked if he was “dirty.” Lockhart said yes, he was carrying drugs, the affidavit says.
Holas told Lockhart that police or informants were watching the hotel and that Lockhart should leave immediately, the affidavit says. At 9:36, Holas called Lockhart back and warned that police activity at the hotel was likely forthcoming.
Lockhart asked Holas if he was “golden” to leave right then.
Holas told him that he was “clear to 85.”
“This activity and these overt acts by Holas were to prevent Lockhart's arrest, and, thereby allow his illegal cocaine distribution business to continue,” FBI agent Eric Davis wrote in the affidavit.
The investigation began about six months ago after a confidential source informed the FBI that Lockhart was involved in the distribution of cocaine, and that at least two CMPD officers knew about it and were protecting him, the affidavit says. The source told the FBI that Lockhart had been in continuous contact with the officers since July 2007.
The affidavit also outlines an October incident that involved officer Ross helping Lockhart find an enemy so he could get revenge.
Lockhart and at least one of his associates had been the victims of an armed robbery, the affidavit says, citing a confidential source. The robbers took cocaine and money from Lockhart.
Lockhart asked Holas and Ross for assistance in identifying the person who robbed him.
Within a day Lockhart had the name of the person he believed had robbed him.
Officer Ross accessed a report that showed a possible address for the robber, the affidavit says.
Lockhart poured gasoline in at least four large beer bottles and placed rags in the bottle openings. He set fire to the bottles and threw then against the house, shouting expletives, the affidavit says. The suspected robber, along with other residents, ran from the burning house.
In the next 48 hours, there were 16 separate contacts between Holas or Ross and Lockhart's phone.
“There is no apparent law enforcement reason for Holas or Ross to share an address of a robbery suspect in a drug robbery with the victim ...,” agent Davis wrote in the affidavit.