Delores Culmer, cop, accused of helping drug trafficker
Updated: March 17, 2011 - 12:54 pm
A 37-year-old Montgomery County police officer is now facing drug and fraud charges after allegedly using a police computer system to help a drug trafficker.
The U.S. attorney announced that Delores Culmer, of Silver Spring, was charged with fraud and conspiracy to distribute cocaine in connection with computer use.
Montgomery County Police Capt. Paul Starks said the police department started its investigation after receiving a tip from a source alleging that Culmer was trafficking drugs.
After beginning its investigation, Montgomery County police contacted U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for assistance. ICE is now the lead agency investigating the case, though it is unclear why the agency is involved.
"There is no allegation that any other police officers were involved in the scheme," said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein in a statement. "I am grateful to Chief Manger and the Montgomery County Police Department for their support."
Culmer is accused of helping her boyfriend or fiancé, an alleged drug trafficker identified as a “co-conspirator.” Authorities said that from August 2008 to September 2009, Culmer accessed law enforcement databases to obtain information about people who had “drug dealings” with Culmer’s co-conspirator.
Culmer is also accused of putting assets in her name that were actually owned by the co-conspirator, including residences in Silver Spring. The co-conspirator also allegedly gave Culmer $30,000 in cash that was from drug proceeds to buy a Silver Spring residence that was used as a safe haven from drug dealing activities in Pittsburgh and Cleveland.
The co-conspirator also gave Culmer gifts, including a $100,000 engagement ring.
The co-conspirator is alleged to have bragged that he could “find anyone at anytime,” according to authorities.
Montgomery County Police Chief J. Thomas Manger released the following statement:
“The investigation and arrest of one of our own Officers is always a difficult time for any police department. We initiated this case nearly a year ago and are grateful to the US Attorney’s Office and the Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for their guidance and assistance. This Department continues to be committed to the highest standards of integrity, and will not tolerate criminal misconduct. I am proud of the reputation that the men and women of this Department have earned over the years and none of us can allow anyone to tarnish the badge we are so honored to wear.”
Neighbors of the officer are stunned to hear she allegedly assisted a drug trafficking organization by using her police powers to access law enforcement databases to obtain information.
"When you have a police officer in the neighborhood, you think you’re going to be safe,” said neighbor Alex Marquez.
Another neighbor, Ken Lerch, said similar things about Culmer.
“She was a nice person, her boyfriend was nice,” Lerch said.
Montgomery County police Captain Paul Starks said the Montgomery County police started its investigation after receiving a tip from a source. The tipster alleged that Culmer was trafficking drugs.
After beginning its investigation, the Montgomery County police contacted U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement for help. ICE is now the lead agency investigating the case. It’s unclear, however, why ICE is involved in the case. Montgomery County police declined to comment on it and ICE hasn’t yet responded to requests for information.
Because she faces a felony, Culmer has been suspended without pay.
The investigation showed that in November 2009, Culmer ran registration checks on two vehicles owned by a girlfriend of a drug customer who owned a debt to the co-conspirator, authorities said. The checks gave Culmer the current address of the drug customer.
That customer later reported to police in Pennsylvania that the two vehicles were vandalized. Later, the two vehicles were targeted for arson, authorities said.
Authorities also said that in 2008, Culmer allegedly ran a criminal and wanted check on the co-conspirator.
Culmer faces a maximum 20 year sentence for the conspiracy and 10 years behind bars for the fraud charge. Because she faces a felony, Culmer has been suspended without pay. Culmer was a uniform patrol officer assigned to the Montgomery County Police Department's 4th District.
Culmer had an initial appearance in federal court in Greenbelt, where she was ordered detained pending a Friday detention hearing.
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