Former city cop sentenced in drug scam|[03/19/08]

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 19, 2008

NATCHEZ — A former Vicksburg police sergeant who spent 4 1/2 years in the department’s narcotics division was sentenced here Tuesday to more than 15 years in federal prison for taking bribes he thought would allow shipments of cocaine into the city.

Convicted of extortion in October, Kevin Dewayne Williams, 37, was handed a 188-month sentence by U.S District Judge David Bramlette.

“I can’t apologize enough to my family and friends,” Williams said in a tearful statement before he was sentenced. “I’ve betrayed their trust and faith in me. I made a foolish mistake.”

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Williams’ conviction stems from sting operations, one in November 2002 and the other in May 2003, when he took bribes during an undercover investigation coordinated by the FBI, Vicksburg police and the Warren County Sheriff’s Department.

Investigations into corruption within the department began in 2001 with the arrival of Police Chief Tommy Moffett, who said today he had heard many complaints about the department when he came to Vicksburg from Biloxi, where he had previously served as chief.

“I know the arrest and the long sentence Williams faces is painful for his family, friends and people of this police department,” Moffett said. “But we’re in the business of stopping crime. There’s no way I can say anything good about someone who would take advantage of the public’s trust and let 15 kilos of cocaine come into the community.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Sandra Moses, who prosecuted the case, said Williams was paid a total of $3,000 in the two undercover bribes.

Williams was indicted by a federal grand jury March 6, 2007, and six days later he was arrested in Hawaii, where he was serving as a U.S. Army military police officer in Oahu.

During his testimony Tuesday, Williams said he resigned from the police department in 2004, after nearly 10 years of service, due to feeling guilt for committing the criminal actions. He decided to rejoin the military, where he had served from 1989 to 1991.

“It was an act of self-redemption,” Williams said. “I wanted to do something positive. I wasn’t going there to hide.”Williams was a part of the 58th Military Police Brigade. According to his attorney, Samford Knot, Williams was scored by his superiors as among the very best in his brigade of about 5,000 people. Knot told Bramlette Tuesday that Williams had self-rehabilitated in the five years since the offenses, and that Williams should be placed on probation to return with his military unit, which is currently serving in Iraq.

But Moses insisted that Williams could not be let off that easy.

“You allowed 15 kilograms of cocaine to come into Vicksburg, where you were sworn to serve and protect, for money,” Moses said.

Family members left the courtroom in tears after the sentence was announced. Williams has a wife and three children.