Federal authorities say that Philadelphia police detective Rickie Durham is a corrupt city cop who betrayed his oath to uphold the law.
Durham was indicted yesterday on obstruction-of-justice charges and related offenses for allegedly tipping off drug kingpin Alton "Ace Capone" Coles through a third party that authorities were about to search Coles' home and those of his top associates. Coles then called his associates and shared the information, according to the indictment.
The indictment also alleges that Durham, 43, who was assigned to the FBI's Violent Drug/ Gang task force, had a long-standing friendship with a person identified as "J.R., Jr.," who was a professional athlete and the half-brother of one of Coles' then-paramours, Asya Richardson. (Sources say J.R. is former NBA point guard Jerome "Pooh" Richardson.)
J.R. gave Durham a car, clothes, tickets to sporting events and money totaling tens of thousands of dollars, the indictment said.
Hours before the searches on Aug. 10, 2005, Durham placed a call to J.R. at about 3 a.m. and informed him of the impending raids and of authorities' plans to "take down" his half sister, who was living with Coles at the time, the indictment said.
Shortly thereafter, J.R. called Asya Richardson's cell phone to tell her about Durham's warning, the indictment said. Searches of at least 23 properties and 11 automobiles associated with Coles' drug gang were scheduled to commence about 6 a.m. that day.
The indictment said that Coles called several associates and told them to hide or destroy evidence. (Coles told one coconspirator to take a gun he had left at her apartment and "drop it down the trash chute," the indictment said.)
Federal, state and local agents conducted the searches as planned and confiscated guns, ammunition, several hundred grams of cocaine, drug paraphernalia and $800,000 in drug proceeds.
Coles and five associates were convicted in March 2008 of numerous charges in connection with running a $25 million cocaine-trafficking operation. (Asya Richardson was convicted of money laundering.)
Coles was sentenced in April to life in prison plus 55 years.
Durham was also charged with lying to federal investigators.
On June 27, 2008, agents from the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives who were then investigating the source of the tip that warned Coles of the impending raids in Aug. 2005 interviewed Durham about his relationship with J.R.
Durham denied giving any information about search warrants for homes and properties connected with Coles and his drug organization to J.R. on Aug. 10, 2005, the indictment said.
In a subsequent interview with federal agents on Jan. 16, Durham said that he had contacted J.R. to get Asya Richardson's phone number to assist with the Coles investigation even though Durham was not assigned to the investigation and had been enlisted only to help with the searches, the indictment said.
Durham reiterated during the interview that he had never tipped off anyone about the search warrants, the indictment said.
Durham, who turned himself in to authorities yesterday morning, appeared before a federal magistrate yesterday afternoon and was released pending a pre-trial detention hearing today.
Prosecutors said that they plan to seek pre-trial detention of Durham but didn't say why.
Fortunato Perri Jr., Durham's attorney, said that he expected Durham to be dismissed from the police force soon but insisted that his client was innocent.