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Acquitted narcotics cop to be fired again

Perry Betts, who recently won back his police job through arbitration, failed a drug test, Commissioner Charles Ramsey said.

Perry Betts
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PERRY BETTS, one of the six Philadelphia Police narcotics officers who recently won back his job after being acquitted in a federal corruption case, is about to be booted from the force again.

Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey told the Daily News on Thursday that Betts will be suspended on Monday for 30 days with the intent to dismiss.

Betts, a law-enforcement source said, failed a drug test that was part of a medical exam required before he could rejoin the force.

Betts tested positive for marijuana, the source said.

"He will not be able to return," Ramsey said. "I'm told he went on vacation and will be back Monday. He will be served on Monday."

John McNesby, the president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 5, said the union won't make any attempts to get Betts' job back a second time.

"We're absolutely, positively doing nothing for him," McNesby said. "It is what it is, and levels are what they are. He's no longer going to be a police officer."

Betts and the other former members of his narcotics squad - Thomas Liciardello, Brian Reynolds, Michael Spicer, Linwood Norman and John Speiser - were indicted by the U.S. Attorney's Office last summer on a litany of charges, including robbery, racketeering, conspiracy and falsifying police reports.

Prosecutors alleged that the officers stole nearly $500,000 worth of cash, drugs and belongings from numerous drug dealers over the course of six years.

A jury acquitted the squad in May and the six men regained their jobs on the police force through an arbitrator's ruling last month.

As part of the ruling, they were each awarded a year's worth of back pay, but not allowed to return to narcotics work.

"You would think you would want to come back to work, stay out of the limelight and collect a paycheck," McNesby said. "I honestly can't figure it out."

Betts, 47, had spent 19 years on the force before Ramsey fired him last summer in light of the federal indictment.

The fallout from that case led to the dismissal of more than 400 drug cases. The Daily News reported last month that the city has paid out nearly $800,000 to settle civil lawsuits filed against the officers, who maintained their innocence in the wake of the indictment.

Ramsey said each of the officers was required to undergo physical exams to rejoin the force. Betts' failed drug test came as a shock.

"I have to admit, I was a bit surprised," Ramsey said. "I don't know him personally, but we have to follow our procedures, and that's exactly what we've done here."

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