CLEVELAND (CN) – A Cleveland man sued three former detectives convicted for their role in a public corruption scandal that led to 40 wrongful convictions, claiming they used fictional informants and falsified police reports to secure drugs and weapon charges.
In April 2016, East Cleveland Detective Sgt. Torris Moore, 45, was sentenced to nine years in prison for her part in a conspiracy with her underlings, Detectives Antonio Malone and Eric Jones, to skim drug money from illegal searches and seizures.
The detectives pleaded guilty to deceiving judges and prosecutors by including information from non-existent informants and false police reports. They used the thousands of dollars they divvied up from drug busts for personal expenses.
In late 2016, the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office asked Common Pleas Judge John Russo to vacate the convictions of 40 defendants that the trio had drawn into their scheme.
Among them was Andrew Brown. He was convicted in October 2012 on charges of drug possession, having a weapon while under disability, and possessing criminal tools. A judge sentenced him to serve one year in prison with credit for time served. His sentence was vacated in June 2017.
In a lawsuit filed in the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas by lead attorney Scott Kuboff, Brown asserted civil rights claims against the city of East Cleveland, its police department and Moore, Jones and Malone. The complaint was filed Friday but not made available by the court until Monday.
In August 2012, Brown says that detectives searched his home on Rosedale Avenue in East Cleveland after securing a warrant using fabricated evidence.
According to the complaint, the detectives executed the warrant after a “confidential informant” took part in a “purported controlled purchase of crack cocaine from an individual identified as ‘Snoop.’” The detectives had concluded that Snoop was Brown’s alias, the lawsuit states.
Brown claims that after the search, the detectives enlisted individuals to act as confidential informants to cover-up the lack of probable cause for the search warrant.
Brown is seeking punitive damages, fees and costs. His Ibold & O’Brien attorney, Kuboff, said in phone interview on Wednesday that East Cleveland did not give his client the information he needs to determine the underlying facts of his case and he wants to get to the “bottom of what happened.”
“Was there something that happened in Mr. Brown’s case that violated his constitutional rights?” Kuboff said. “He served a year in prison and we’re looking forward to having our time in court to more thoroughly investigate and flesh out the specific facts in his case.”
East Cleveland Law Department Director Willa Hemmons said she had not seen the lawsuit and could not comment.
“At this point, I’m really not in a position to speculate,” Hemmons said.
Two other men have filed civil complaints against the detectives and East Cleveland.
In January, Jeffrey Brown filed a $16 million pro se lawsuit claiming he was criminally indicted for drug trafficking based on fabricated evidence. In April 2017, Walter Derrico sued, alleging he served four years in prison for trumped-up drug charges. Both complaints were filed in Cleveland federal court.
Hemmons said the city had not been served with Jeffrey Brown’s complaint and that she could not comment on Derrico’s lawsuit because it is pending.
“Any charges that are proven beyond a reasonable doubt, we immediately take action and separate the officers from our department,” Hemmons said during a phone interview.
Moore pleaded guilty to several charges, including conspiracy against rights, Hobbs Act conspiracy and false statements to law enforcement and two counts of theft concerning programs receiving federal funds. Malone and Jones each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy against rights and one count of Hobbs Act conspiracy.
Prosecutors said that the detectives deceived judges, who had unwittingly signed off on search warrants using their false information. Among other incidents, Moore, Malone and Jones had taken nearly $30,000, after finding about $100,000 at a residence on East 85th Street in Cleveland. While the officers placed $74,670 in the East Cleveland Department’s evidence room, they divided the remainder between themselves.
Jones was sentenced to four years for his part in the conspiracy and is serving his time in federal prison in Ayer, Mass. A judge sentenced Malone to six years. He is housed in a prison in Bennettsville, S.C.
Moore is in federal prison in Fort Worth, Texas.
Brown and the East Cleveland Police Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment.