When Prince George’s County police officer Vanessa Edwards-Hamm learned that the FBI was closing in on a network suspected of selling heroin, methamphetamines and other illegal drugs in the Washington area, she made two calls — one to her close friend in prison, the other to that person’s brother. She warned them about wiretaps officials were using to collect evidence in a federal narcotics investigation.
Those calls could now land Edwards-Hamm in prison. She pleaded guilty Tuesday in federal court in the District to illegally disclosing that the FBI was covertly monitoring the drug ring’s communications.
As a member of the police department’s narcotics enforcement division and a federal drug enforcement task force, Edwards-Hamm knew when FBI agents were monitoring e-mails, phone calls and texts, federal prosecutors say.
Edwards-Hamm, 38, admitted during Tuesday’s hearing that in February she alerted Maryland prison inmate Gemini Vaughn that his brother, Aaron Vaughn, was under investigation for suspected drug trafficking.
In the call to Gemini Vaughn, she essentially told him that “law enforcement had a wiretap on Aaron Vaughn’s telephone and that it was too late to help Aaron Vaughn avoid arrest,” according to federal court documents.
The information prompted Gemini Vaughn to make a call of his own, federal prosecutors say. He essentially warned his brother “that he should stop dealing with the people he was involved with, that he should change his telephone number and that he should probably move out of the area,” court records state.
Edwards-Hamm also admitted Tuesday that she told her brother, Mark Edwards, about the investigation so he could “be careful and stay away” from Aaron Vaughn. Authorities did not detail any relationship between Vaughn and Edwards, but federal prosecutors say Edwards-Hamm knew that her brother had allegedly been involved in selling drugs.
Edwards-Hamm was one of more than a dozen men and women indicted this summer for their alleged connection to a drug ring that worked in Maryland, Virginia and the District.
Mark Edwards, 40, and Aaron Vaughn, 35, were also indicted on federal drug charges and have pleaded not guilty.
Edwards-Hamm and her attorney declined to comment on the case Tuesday.
Prince George’s police, who helped arrest Edwards-Hamm, placed her on administrative duty after learning about the federal investigation. She is no longer with the force, having agreed to resign as a condition of her plea agreement.
“This was an egregious violation of trust — that of our department and of our entire community. Anyone who violates such trust will be held accountable and isn’t worthy of wearing our badge,” Prince George’s Police Chief Mark Magaw said in a statement.
“Anything less than ethical and professional policing isn’t acceptable,” he added.
Edwards-Hamm is scheduled to be sentenced March 7.