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Posted at 01:24 PM ET, 06/28/2011

Officer admits participating in smuggling of untaxed cigarettes and alcohol in Pr. George’s corruption case

A Prince George’s County police officer faces a lengthy prison sentence after he pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday to cocaine trafficking, extortion and other offenses.

Sinisa Simic became the latest defendant convicted in a sweeping federal investigation of corruption in Prince George’s County.

In addition to the cocaine trafficking and extortion charges, Simic, 27, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt to two firearms offenses.

Simic, who joined the force in 2007, was suspended without pay after he was arrested. A police spokeswoman said department officials have begun the process of terminating his employment.

Simic faces a mandatory sentence of 10 years in prison for the cocaine offense and one of the firearms charges, U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein said.

According to a statement of facts read in court by a prosecutor, Simic and a co-conspirator, Mirza Kujundzic, distributed cocaine to an undercover federal agent and a federal source from July 2009 through January 2010. Kujundzic has been charged and is awaiting trial.

Simic admitted in court that in October and November 2009, he and Kujundzic delivered more than 600 grams of cocaine to the undercover agent, and were paid more than $24,000 collectively.

From September 9 2009 through January 26 2010, Simic and a co-conspirator protected eight shipments of contraband cigarettes, which totalled more than 575 cases, according to the statement of facts. Prosecutors have said Simic and others transported untaxed cigarettes from Virginia into Maryland and other locations.

The cigarette shipments cost the federal government and the states of Maryland and Virginia a loss of about $1.36 million in tax revenue, prosecutors said.

U.S. District Judge Peter J. Messitte scheduled Simic’s sentencing for Sept. 23.

With Simic’s guilty plea, at least 10 people have admitted their guilt in the far-reaching corruption probe.

Last month, former County Executive Jack B. Johnson pleaded guilty to two felonies and admitted taking more than $400,000 in bribes from developers and other business people. A former county police sergeant, Richard J. Delabrer, also pleaded guilty last month in connection with the smuggling scheme.

A hearing is scheduled Thursday for Leslie Johnson, a member of the Prince George’s County Council and Jack Johnson’s wife. Johnson (D-Mitchellville) is charged with evidence and witness tampering.

Three developers have pleaded guilty and admitted bribing Johnson and other public officials.

This Post has been updated.

By  |  01:24 PM ET, 06/28/2011

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