Sept. 8, 2002 – A Bureau of Corrections officer spent the weekend behind bars at the Golden Grove Correctional Facility after being arrested on federal drug charges Friday.
Three alleged accomplices — two agents of the Narcotics Strike Force and one former strike force member — were released on $50,000 bail after an advice-of-rights hearing held in District Court Friday on St. Croix.
NSF agents George Osborne and Jay Watson, former agent Esbond DeGrasse and Corrections Officer Antonio Petersen were arrested Friday as the result of a grand jury investigation that U.S. Attorney David Nissman said was undertaken at the request of the Police Department.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Azekah Jennings said the four were arrested shortly after a sealed indictment handed up by a grand jury on Thursday was unsealed. The grand jury charged Osborne, Watson and DeGrasse with misusing their status as law-enforcement officers to rob and extort money and drugs from drug dealers and with recruiting other dealers to sell the confiscated drugs. (See "Strike force agents indicted on drug charges".)
Petersen was charged with possession of cocaine with intent to distribute. He was held after Friday's court hearing "because he didn't have the third party for the property bond," Jennings said Sunday evening.
Petersen was scheduled for a new bail hearing Monday morning, Jennings said.
The indictment alleges that from at least January 1996 through December 2000 the four were involved in shake downs of drug dealers and suspected drug dealers, violating their civil rights, offering them protection from prosecution and destroying government property to further their illegal activities. The actions allegedly took place "in various locations," including a number of public housing communities and near a fast food outlet at the Sunny Isle Shopping Center, Jennings said.
There was no information available over the weekend as to what the status of the three active-duty officers will be within their organizations as a result of the charges. No arraignment date for the defendants has been announced.
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