HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - A federal grand jury indicted a Huntsville police officer in connection with a conspiracy to fix a cocaine trafficking charge.
The four-count indictment charges Lewis Hall, a former north precinct officer of the year, with conspiracy, bribery, obstruction of justice, and making a false statement to investigators.
Investigators say Hall conspired with another person to pay a fellow police officer $5,000 if that officer would say a vehicle search he did was unlawful.
That search resulted in a drug trafficking charge; saying it was unlawful would therefore erase any possible criminal case against the driver.
Investigators then said the officer approached with the bribe helped police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation with their inquiry against Hall.
The U.S. Attorney's Office said Hall lied to an FBI agent and said he did not give money to the cooperating officer.
"Our community expects and deserves police officers who will protect citizens and uphold the law, not tarnish their badge and work to protect criminals," said U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance. "The U.S. Attorney's Office prosecutes public corruption cases to punish those who violate the law and the public trust and to reinforce the need and expectation of integrity in government and police service."
FBI Special Agent Richard Schwein Jr. added, "Public corruption is the FBI's number one criminal priority for a reason. It tears at the fabric of our democracy and works to undermine the public's trust and confidence in the government."
Huntsville Police Chief Lewis Morris said his department contacted the FBI as soon as they learned of the possible corruption.
"The Huntsville Police Department contacted the FBI as soon as we learned of possible corruption and we assisted the FBI in its investigation," Morris said. "I want to assure the public that this indictment addresses the actions of one police officer, and the Huntsville department will diligently address any other issues that might come to our attention.
"We value the working relationship we enjoy with the FBI and the U.S. Attorney's Office and appreciate their attention to this case," he continued.
Hall remains on administrative leave pending the outcome of the judicial process. If convicted on all charges, the combined maximum sentence is 40 years in prison and about $1 million in fines.