Late-breaking news from the federal courthouse:
Two Little Rock police officers, half-brothers Mark Jones and Randall Robinson, have been arrested for roles in a plan to distribute more than 1,000 pounds of marijuana and use of a firearm in the course of a crime. The men are accused of providing protection — in uniform and patrol cars — for marijuana shipments set up by an informant. An undercover FBI agent served as the purported dealer.
Here's the criminal complaint. And the full news release follows. The complaint details how the officers continued on drug "escort" duties while other officers were responding to a shooting report.
Christopher R. Thyer, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas; Randall C. Coleman, Special Agent in Charge of the Little Rock Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); and Stuart Thomas, Chief of the Little Rock Police Department, announced the arrests early this evening of Little Rock Police Department Officers
Mark Anthony Jones, age 45, and Randall Tremayn Robinson, age 38, both of Little Rock.
According to an affidavit filed in support of a criminal complaint against the two, Jones and Robinson are half-brothers. The complaint alleges that both committed the offenses of conspiring to aid and abet the possession with intent to distribute over 1,000 pounds of marijuana; attempt to aid and abet the possession with intent to distribute over 1,000 pounds of marijuana; and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.
“Those who are sworn to uphold the law are not above the law themselves,” said Thyer. “The Little Rock Police Department is an institution filled with honest and hard-working professionals who risk their lives daily for the safety of its citizens. As a prosecutor, it is difficult to accept that individual officers would take actions that ultimately harm our community; undermine the efforts of their fellow officers; and weaken the public trust in all of law enforcement. As difficult as it might be, however, it is our duty to fully investigate such allegations and, if substantiated, hold police officers accountable for breaking the law. We owe it to this community and, more importantly, to the upstanding individuals who wear the badge of the LRPD.”
“Today's arrests are bittersweet," stated FBI Special Agent in Charge Randall C. Coleman. "While the allegations that two Little Rock Police Officers participated in corrupt acts are disappointing, this joint investigation between our agency and the Little Rock Police Department represents an extraordinary, collaborative effort at combating corruption.”
Chief Thomas added, “It is disheartening to know that members of this Department are alleged to have violated their oaths and our trust in the manner detailed in the criminal complaint. I am, however, extremely proud of the men and women of this Department who participated in this difficult and demanding investigation and who, throughout, demonstrated professionalism, integrity, and confidentiality of the highest degree. I am also deeply indebted to the United States Attorney’s Office and the Little Rock Office of the FBI which, without hesitation, provided the resources and expertise necessary to fully investigate this matter.”
According to the affidavit filed in support of the complaint, beginning in early 2012, Jones was involved in the protection of three controlled drug deliveries while driving a marked patrol car, on-duty, armed, and in uniform. Robinson was involved with Jones in the third controlled drug delivery, which occurred on March 22, 2012. While protecting the third marijuana delivery, Robinson was also driving a marked patrol car, on-duty, armed and in
uniform. The deliveries totaled a purported quantity of approximately 1,400 pounds of marijuana and were all carried out through the use of a confidential informant working on behalf of investigating agents.
As detailed in the affidavit, the informant’s conversations with Jones and Robinson were recorded and all of their activities were documented through video recording and aerial surveillance. These recordings include post-delivery recordings of money being paid by the informant to Jones for the protection he and—-in the case of the last delivery—-Robinson, had provided. The payments to the two officers totaled $14,000. Notably, the affidavit describes a
February 23, 2012, incident in which Jones actually accompanied the informant on a trip to Los Angeles, California to meet the informant’s purported supplier of marijuana. During dinner, the supplier (who was actually an undercover FBI agent) and Jones engaged in recorded conversation about increasing the size of the marijuana loads being brought into Little Rock.
The defendants were taken into custody without incident and will have initial appearances before United States Magistrate Judge Jerome T. Kearney tomorrow, May 25th, at 11:00 a.m.. The United States will be seeking pretrial detention for both men. As with all arrests pursuant to criminal complaint, the matter will be presented for formal indictment by the grand jury at its June session.
This investigation was conducted by the Little Rock Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in cooperation with, and with substantial support from, the Little Rock Police Department. Assistant United States Attorneys Pat Harris and Anne Gardner are prosecuting the case for the United States.