The Washington Post

D.C. police officers charged with taking protection money from Calvert Woodley liquor store

A federal grand jury charged two D.C. police officers Friday with accepting at least $10,000 in exchange for offering protection to a Van Ness liquor store after a November 2006 robbery, prosecutors said.

Malcolm Rhinehart, 50, and Abraham Evans, 31, were indicted in U.S. District Court in D.C. on charges of receipt of illegal gratuities and illegal supplementation of salary. If convicted, they could face 24 to 30 months in prison.

A third former officer, Nathaniel Anderson, 41, pleaded guilty Nov. 5 in the case and is awaiting sentencing, court records show.

Harold Martin, an attorney for Anderson, who is free on personal recognizance, declined to comment Friday. It was not clear whether Rhinehart or Evans had an attorney, and neither could be reached for comment.

Bench warrants were not sought for the pair, who were expected to turn themselves in, said Bill Miller, a spokesman for U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr., who announced the charges with Chief of Police Cathy L. Lanier and James W. McJunkin, the assistant director in charge of the FBI's Washington Field Office.

According to the indictment, two armed men robbed Calvert Woodley Wine & Spirits in the 4300 block of Connecticut Avenue NW shortly after closing Nov. 25, 2006. The next month, Rhinehart, Evans and Anderson, all of the 2nd Police District, began to accept about $25 a night to provide protection, the indictment said.

A fourth unnamed officer also agreed to participate, the indictment said, but only when others were unavailable and he was off duty. The others are accused of accepting payments while in uniform for at least two years, with the last payment in May 2009.

In his plea, Anderson admitted to taking payments about two nights a week, which amounted to about $4,000. He also acknowledged that while on duty Feb. 10, 2009, he was watching the shop and delayed his response to another incident, and provided misinformation to a police dispatcher to avoid responding.

Spencer S. Hsu is an investigative reporter, two-time Pulitzer finalist and national Emmy award nominee.

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