Being a police officer is one of the most difficult and noble professions one can choose to undertake. The level of emotional and physical stress the job can place on an officer is something many may never understand, and despite this, the vast majority of police officers are upstanding, honest cops, actively working to make their communities and the citizens within them, safer. Like anything however, there is always the exception to the rule: the cop desperate enough for convictions that he bends the rules, or takes the law into his own hands, in order to secure them. The corrupt police officer that abuses the power the profession allows in order to amass personal wealth, or intimidate the vulnerable, and most shockingly, the psychopath who sees law enforcement as the perfect means to carry out their grisly desires. Whatever the type, there surely are plenty of crooked, corrupt and down right sadistic police officers both in history and potentially on the streets, and though this list highlights ten of the worst, remember, these types of cops are by far the exception and not the rule.
10. John Michael Keane
There’s the old adage, “fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice shame on me” and in John Michael Keane’s case, fool me a third time and land in prison for 20 years. Keane was a Sheriff’s sergeant working for the Chesapeake, Virginia police department when he decided to rob a bank. In July of 2009 Keane walked into the BB&T Bank in full bank robber getup, mask, sunglasses, hooded sweater etc, and pointed a gun at the teller, demanding she fill up his duffel bag with cash. The plan worked so well that Keane got away with robbing the same BB&T Bank twice. Clearly, Keane had never learned of hubris and its dear friend avarice, and decided, third time’s the charm going back in February of 2010 to the same bank to rob it for a third time. Alas, he wasn’t so lucky this time, and was pulled over by police, who were shocked to find one of their own behind the robberies. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty.
9. Louis Scarcella
Louis Scarcella was a tough cop in a rough neighbourhood when he worked for the Brooklyn homicide unit in the 1980s. The squad that Scarcella was a part of was extremely prolific in catching murderers, including seeing convictions in the murder of a rabbi and in a case that saw a stray bullet kill a four-year-old girl in a park. Although these convictions were big victories for Scarcella and the homicide squad, upon further investigation into the methods Scarcella employed to obtain these convictions, the cases began to unravel. In the case of the man accused of killing the rabbi, Scarcella reportedly procured prostitutes and drugs for other inmates to implicate him, while in the case of the stray bullet, Scarcella allegedly beat the man until he confessed. In light of the evidence against him, both men were released from prison and over 50 more cases Scarcella worked on are being reviewed. For his part, Louis Scarcella denies any wrongdoing.
8. Bradley Stewart Wagner
Anaheim police officer Bradley Stewart Wagner used his badge in the worst possible way; to sexually assault and intimidate women who feared deportation with the threat of reporting them. After allegations of Wagner’s misconduct were reported to authorities, he initially denied them, claiming his accusers were in fact women he had stopped for traffic violations that sought sex with him. When evidence against him was damning enough to charge him, he took the plea bargain prosecutors offered him, thus reducing his potential time in jail from 11 to four years. Apparently, this deal wasn’t lenient enough for Wagner; not long before his sentencing he wished to change his guilty plea to not guilty, claiming he was on drugs when he made the bargain. His tactics worked to no avail, as he remains in jail having exhausted his appeals.
7. Charles Becker
Charles Becker has the dubious distinction of being the first police officer to receive the death penalty in the United States. Among his crimes while a Lieutenant in the New York Police Department, Becker was fond of extorting brothels and illegal casinos in exchange for protection from police interference. He once shot an innocent bystander while pursuing a legitimate criminal; to cover his crime he planted evidence and claimed the bystander was indeed the criminal he was initially pursuing. Becker’s downfall came when a bookie complained to the press that his casinos were suffering greatly from Becker’s heavy hand. Two days later, the bookie was shot dead outside a hotel in Manhattan. Becker was subsequently convicted of first-degree murder in 1912. He was executed in 1915 in what was called the “clumsiest execution in the history of Sing Sing.”
6. Joshua Carrier
Joshua Carrier was a police officer from Colorado Springs who spent much of his seven-year career acting as a mentor to the youth of the community he served. Carrier was a coach in the Police Athletic League and worked as the community resource officer at the Horace Mann Middle School, where he was also a wrestling coach. For a good cop, this would all be a great way to reach the community and help young teens stay on the right path; unfortunately for Colorado Springs Joshua Carrier was a paedophile who enjoyed child pornography and was ultimately accused of sexually assaulting the boys he was charged, as a police officer, to mentor. All told Carrier was charged and tried on 207 counts of child sexual assault, child pornography and child exploitation. After his first trial only found him guilty of the pornography charges, Carrier was retried, and the second time found guilty of molesting between 18 and 22 boys, and sentenced to 70 years to life in prison.
5. Camden Police Department
The Camden Police Department saw its Drug Task Force embroiled in a corruption scandal when five members of the force were charged with:
“ …planting evidence; threatening individuals with arrest to secure cooperation; paying for cooperation and information with illegal drugs; conducting illegal searches without a search warrant or consent; stealing money and drugs during illegal searches and arrests; failing to report found drugs… using unreasonable force, unlawfully detaining individuals, preparing false police reports and testifying falsely under oath to conceal their actions.”
The scandal rocked the Camden Police Department, and brought to light through media investigations further allegations of how common planting evidence may actually be during police investigations. Sentences varied dramatically amongst the five officers charged in connection to the corruption scandal; one officer was found innocent, others spent from 10 months to 10 years in federal prison. The city of Camden turned over 88 convictions and paid a total of $3.5 million to those who were arrested by the task force.
4. Manuel Pardo
At one time Manuel Pardo was a U.S. Naval officer with a distinguished record. After leaving military service, he became a member of the Florida Highway Patrol in the 1970s, until he was fired in 1980 for writing fake traffic tickets. Soon after landing a job with a small police department in Miami-Dade County, Pardo was charged with police brutality in a case that was ultimately dismissed. By 1985, his law enforcement career had come to an end after he gave false testimony in a drug trial. That is when Pardo seemingly snapped. Over the course of three months in 1986, Pardo went on a crime spree, committing nine murders as well as numerous robberies and drug deals. Pardo kept photos of his victims and recorded some of the details of the murders in a diary, both of which were enough to convict him and sentence him to death in 1988.
3. Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa
If there hasn’t been one made already, there should be a movie made based on the exploits of these two cops. While both Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa may have legally collected their paycheck courtesy of the New York Police Department, their primary employer was the Mafia. Acting as moles within the NYPD, both cops committed various crimes for the underworld in the 1980s and 1990s, even acting as hitmen. Although authorities in the U.S. were aware of the pair’s relationship with the mob as early as 1985, neither one of them were actually convicted of any crimes until 2006. In 2009, Louis Eppolito was sentenced to life plus 100 years in prison for murder, racketeering, and corruption. Stephen Caracappa was sentenced to life plus 80 years on the same charges.
2. Joseph Miedzianowski
For all the difficulty the media has portrayed Chicago as having with crime on the city’s streets as of late, the city is probably lucky that former Chicago police officer Joseph Miedzianowski is behind bars. Considered by some to be the most corrupt cop of all time, Miedzianowski, a member of the gang enforcement unit, was at once both an officer of the law and drug kingpin. Miedzianowski actually supplied more gangs with drugs and guns than he actually apprehended during his tenure on Chicago’s streets. The dirty cop was ultimately brought down by the ATF and FBI and eventually charged with providing the names of undercover officers to local gangs, selling guns and ammunition to gangs, selling crack on Chicago’s streets and protecting the gangs he swore to take down. For his crimes, Joseph Miedzianowski was sentenced to life in prison without parole in 2003.
1. Gerard John Schaefer
A Marin County, Florida Sheriff’s deputy moonlighting as a serial killer, Gerard John Schaefer initially satisfied his murderous impulses by killing animals. Before a career in law enforcement Schaefer tried his hand at teaching until he was dismissed for his “totally inappropriate behaviour.” When his teaching career failed, he sought entry into the priesthood where he was promptly denied. His third choice seemingly turned out in his favor and he worked as a cop for a year between 1971-72 until he was fired for the false imprisonment of two young female hitchhikers. After he was relieved of his duties as a police officer, Schaefer abducted two teenage girls and proceeded to torture and kill them. Soon after, their bodies were found. Because of the similarities between the manner in which Schaefer treated the girls he was fired over, and the dead girls, police made him a primary suspect. Upon searching his home, their suspicions proved correct, finding evidence linking him to up to eight missing girls over a span of four years. While Schaefer was only tried in the murder of the two girls whose bodies were found, he was ultimately linked to up to 30 murders. Convicted to two life sentences, Schaefer found himself the victim of his own favorite pastime when he was stabbed to death in prison in 1995.