A D.C. police detective who has been on the force for 27 years was arrested Friday and accused of laundering drug money through the purchase of a Maserati, a BMW and a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.
Law enforcement authorities said the case is related to that of a convicted heroin dealer who has admitted supplying drugs to dealers in the Washington area. Authorities said the officer helped the dealer conceal drug profits; the dealer’s wife described the detective as a family friend and said the officer did nothing wrong.
The detective was identified as Stephanie Ellison, 49, who is assigned to the 7th Police District. She was put on administrative leave with pay pending the outcome of the case, according to the department. She was hired in 1986 and is paid $87,000 a year.
Ellison appeared Friday in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia after being arrested earlier in the day by members of the D.C. Police Internal Affairs Division. She pleaded not guilty to one count of conspiracy to launder money. Her attorney, David Benowitz, did not immediately return calls seeking comment. The detective — who in 2005 was awarded a meritorious service medal — could face up to 20 years in prison.
The indictment against Ellison does not detail specifics of the alleged crime. But in a statement, D.C. police said the charge against the detective stems “from the purchase and financing of two vehicles and a motorcycle with money that allegedly came from a drug conspiracy.”
According to the indictment, authorities are also seeking an order requiring Ellison to forfeit an undisclosed amount of money found in a safe in her house, $5,000 in jewelry and additional funds. Ellison was released on personal recognizance and has a hearing scheduled for Friday.
Bill Miller, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office, said the indictment is linked to a case against Raymond Proctor, a Maryland nightclub owner who was indicted on drug charges in December 2012 and pleaded guilty last month. He remains in jail and is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 22.
Proctor’s wife, Tiffany Felder, said the detective is a family friend who bought the 2006 Maserati, 2009 750 BMW and 2007 Harley Davidson Night Rod for Proctor. She said Proctor paid her back using proceeds from his club in Southern Maryland. “He did not pay her in drug money,” Felder said. “He made enough at the club to buy those cars. She made enough as a police officer to afford them.”
Felder said that Ellison is innocent. “The charges are not true,” she said. “Never, never, never.”
Authorities said the drug conspiracy has been active since early 2011. The plea agreement Proctor signed says he conspired with another person to launder money — specifically through the purchase of the vehicles. “The defendant would purchase the vehicles by commingling his illegal proceeds with funds obtained from his co-conspirator,” the court document says. “The defendant and his co-conspirator titled these vehicles in the co-conspirator’s name; however the vehicles were purchased for the use of the defendant. The co-conspirator continued to make loan payments on these vehicles.”
Authorities also said that “at times, the defendant gave his co-conspirator narcotics proceeds, in the form of cash, to cover part of these payments.”
The court papers say Proctor twice drove the BMW to drug deals. Authorities also said the vehicles were used to “conceal and disguise the nature, source and ownership of the narcotics.”
The end came in December, when court documents say a drug supplier arranged to sell Proctor a kilogram of heroin and drove into the District to give him a sample. Court papers say the FBI was secretly watching the meeting in Chinatown.