GINA BARTON, Staff, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Copyright 2006 Journal Sentinel Inc.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
When a Milwaukee drug dealer needed help moving product from his Illinois supplier, he figured Larry D. White would be perfect for the job.
If White's SUV ever got stopped for speeding on the highway, the state police would probably let him go as a matter of professional courtesy.
They would never suspect that a Milwaukee police detective was running cocaine.
But authorities say that's exactly what happened.
White, 35, of Milwaukee, was charged Tuesday with two felonies involving the transportation of cocaine and money between the Illinois supplier and the Milwaukee dealer, according to a criminal complaint filed against him. White was specifically chosen to make the trips between the two states "because he was an MPD officer, which would make it less likely that his car would be searched if he was stopped on the highway," an affidavit accompanying the complaint states.
If convicted of both conspiracy to distribute cocaine and distribution of cocaine, White would face a mandatory minimum prison term of 10 years and a maximum of life in prison. He also could be fined $4 million.
Authorities are still in the process of calculating the amount of drugs involved but estimate that the conspiracy was responsible for moving at least 5 kilograms (about 11 pounds) of cocaine, Assistant U.S. Attorney Mel Johnson said during White's initial appearance Tuesday afternoon in federal court in Milwaukee. That amount has a street value of about $110,000.
White, who was hired by the Police Department in 1997, is currently on paid suspension, Johnson said.
White made several trips with drugs and money between late 2004 and summer 2005, according to the affidavit of FBI Special Agent Patrick Killeen.
White was paid $1,000 for each trip, the complaint says. The trips were made in White's personal vehicle, a beige Jeep Cherokee, the affidavit says.
White's brother-in-law, Lawrence Matthews, was the Illinois source of the drugs, the complaint says. Matthews, of Calumet City, Ill., also was charged this week with conspiracy to distribute cocaine. The Milwaukee dealer, who is cooperating with authorities, is identified in court documents only as C.W., for "cooperating witness." He has not been charged.
The investigation began in May, a month after White was promoted to detective, according to records from the court and the city's Fire and Police Commission. Authorities received a tip about the Milwaukee dealer and started tapping his phones. Between June 4 and Oct. 22, there were 367 calls between White's cell phone and the dealer's numbers, the affidavit says. The calls have continued to the present time, it says.
According to Killeen's affidavit:
White stopped acting as the go-between for the Milwaukee dealer and Matthews this past summer. At that point, Matthews began making the deliveries directly because he owed the dealer money. White again acted as an intermediary last month. That transaction, which involved $22,000 worth of cocaine, took place at White's house in the 4500 block of N. 24th Place and was witnessed by the FBI. The money for the deal also had been provided to the cooperating witness by the FBI.
Matthews was arrested Monday with 2 kilograms (about 4 1/2 pounds) of cocaine and a loaded gun, according to the affidavit. When questioned by investigators, Matthews admitted that he and White "had been active in distributing cocaine" with the cooperating witness, the affidavit says.
At Tuesday's hearing, U.S. Magistrate Judge William E. Callahan Jr. set White's bond at $25,000 cash or property. White owns three pieces of property in the Milwaukee area but has little equity, said Nancy Joseph of the federal defender's office, who represented White during the hearing. Callahan said he is not sure whether White qualifies for appointed counsel, so Joseph might not continue on the case. She declined to comment after the hearing.
White was led from the courtroom in handcuffs. A preliminary hearing in the case is set for Tuesday. Matthews remained in custody Tuesday.
White was most recently assigned to the Criminal Investigation Bureau, early shift, said Anne E. Schwartz, department spokeswoman. She added the department has cooperated fully with the federal investigation.
John Diedrich of the Journal Sentinel staff contributed to this report.
Copyright 2006, Journal Sentinel Inc. All rights reserved. (Note: This notice does not apply to those news items already copyrighted and received through wire services or other media.)
February 8, 2006
Milwaukee detective is accused of running cocaine from Ill.