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Garces vehicle in police parking: Michael J McCue
Temptation Too Great For Narc Plea Expected In Dea Pot Case
October 29, 1997|by Jim Smith, Daily News Staff Writer
For a cop who was tempted late in his career to traffic in marijuana, the assignment was ideal.
Back in 1992, Michael J. McCue was a veteran Philadelphia police officer working on a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration task force, a trusted, highly regarded foot soldier in the never-ending narcotics wars, one of about two dozen city cops on the elite undercover squad.
One of his more menial jobs was to destroy marijuana that was no longer needed as evidence in criminal cases.
A lack of oversight by federal authorities on routine evidence destruction trips was apparently too much of a temptation for McCue to resist.
That June, McCue, a 17-year veteran of the force, stole about 70 pounds of the drug and, with the help of ``at least one other individual,'' sold the stash to others instead of burning it in an incinerator in Harrisburg.
At the time, marijuana was selling for at least $1,200 a pound, so the stolen stash was worth a minimum of $84,000 on the black market.
McCue, 40, who had worked on the DEA task force since 1987, was charged in federal court yesterday with distribution of marijuana. He has agreed to plead guilty at a later date.
McCue's case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Jay C. Waldman.
The plea-bargained single-count drug-trafficking charge carries a maximum prison term of five years and a $250,000 fine, according to court papers filed by Faye S. Ehrenstamm, a prosecutor with the U.S. Justice Department's Public Integrity Section in Washington.
McCue resigned from the force in July 1994, reportedly after an informant tipped DEA to the drug theft, and is now working as a cook.
The case stems from a long-running investigation by FBI agents Roxanne West and James McAleer.
It's the second time in recent years that a trusted law-enforcement insider in Philadelphia has been caught red-handed dealing in stolen drugs.
In 1993 and 1994, then-FBI agent Kenneth Withers stole more than 90 pounds of heroin and more than 10 pounds of cocaine worth more than $180 million from the FBI evidence room in Philadelphia and sold 13 pounds of heroin and all the cocaine to drug dealers in Philadelphia, New York and Boston for $77,000.
Withers pleaded guilty and was jailed for 25 years in 1995 by U.S. District Judge Clarence C. Newcomer for theft of government property and drug trafficking.
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