Jose A. "Flaco" Ortiz sentenced to more than 11 years in federal prison yesterday for conspiring to extort $265,000 on behalf of drug dealers
former Boston police officer was sentenced to more than 11 years in federal prison yesterday for conspiring to extort $265,000 on behalf of Colombian drug dealers while in uniform, one of a series of recent corruption scandals in the Police Department.US District Court Judge Rya W. Zobel sentenced Jose A. "Flaco" Ortiz, 46, formerly of Salem, to 11 years and three months in prison followed by five years of supervised release in connection with extortion and cocaine-related charges."Of all our recent cases combating police corruption, this was among the most egregious," US Attorney Michael J. Sullivan said in a statement after sentencing. "To have a uniformed officer, carrying his badge and weapon, extort money on behalf of a Colombian drug ring cuts at the heart of our system of justice."
Ortiz pleaded guilty on April 29. He was the fifth Boston officer to plead guilty to federal charges since September. All the cases, including one involving three officers, involved drugs.His lawyer, Scott A. Lutes, of Providence, said his client is ashamed and still thinks like a police officer. A few nights ago, Lutes said, Ortiz helped save a fellow inmate who slit his wrists and throat at the Wyatt Detention Facility in Central Falls.The case against Ortiz stems from an investigation that began in late 2003 or early 2004, according to federal prosecutors. A man identified as Victim A told authorities that two drug dealers approached him and asked whether he knew anyone who might want to participate in drug trafficking.At the advice of the authorities, Victim A introduced the drug dealers to a man supposedly involved in the drug trade. Days later, the drug dealers told Victim A that the man had stolen from them. They blamed Victim A for the theft.
And then, in a startling twist in August 2006, Ortiz showed up in his uniform at Victim A's job in the Boston area, prosecutors said. He said he was there on behalf of drug dealers who would kill Victim A if he didn't pay $265,000.In May, the victim gave Ortiz $4,000 in cash and 4 kilograms of cocaine in a Revere parking lot, a deal Ortiz said would settle the debt. The FBI then arrested Ortiz.