Three D.C. officers arrested in another police undercover sting

March 8, 2011

Three D.C. police officers were arrested Tuesday in an undercover sting involving the purchase of supposedly stolen goods, an operation similar to one over the weekend that led to the arrest of another officer in the same police district, the department said.

The three officers, assigned to the Fourth District station in the Brightwood area of Northwest Washington, were charged with attempting to possess stolen property after they agreed to buy what they thought were stolen electronics in a sting run by the internal affairs unit, Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier said at a news conference.

On Saturday, in what Lanier called “an independent and separate” sting by internal affairs investigators, Officer Jennifer N. Green, 28, was arrested after she accepted money that she thought had been stolen in a burglary, police said in a court affidavit.

The officers arrested Tuesday were identified as Guillermo Ortiz, Silvestre Bonilla and Dioni Fernandez. The men, who have been on the force for seven to nine years, were placed on leave, as was Green, a five-year member of the department.

Lanier would not discuss details of the investigation that led to the latest arrests or why the men were targeted. But some specifics probably will become public Wednesday when the three officers make their initial appearances in D.C. Superior Court.

She said the department has conducted an increased number of undercover “integrity checks” on officers in recent months, and she suggested that the four officers did not pass theirs, resulting in the internal affairs investigations.

“Every day, officers pass those integrity checks,” Lanier said. “It is a tragic thing that in this case, and in the case [Saturday], these officers not only took for granted their positions, but tarnished the image of a great police department and disrespected the police officers who go out every day and put their lives on the line.”

The allegations against Green, Ortiz, Bonilla and Fernandez could affect criminal cases that they have worked on as police officers, Lanier said.

“Obviously, every case involving these officers will be looked at,” she said, standing outside the Fourth District station. “Are those cases in jeopardy? Absolutely they are.”

Asked whether more arrests could be forthcoming, she said, “We feel pretty confident that we have who we need to have, and we don’t believe there will be additional individuals.”

The chief declined to say whether the men were aware of one another’s alleged criminal activities. She said none of them is accused of being in league with Green, who is accused of helping a man locate a house Saturday night, waiting in a car with a police radio while the man supposedly committed a burglary and then pocketing $600 in proceeds.

The man was an informant working for the internal affairs unit, police said.

Staff writer Clarence Williams contributed to this report.

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