Two former East Cleveland, Ohio police officers have been sentenced for their involvement in stealing thousands of dollars from individuals they pulled over during traffic stops. Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Michael J. Russo sentenced Willie Sims to two years in prison while his partner Alfonzo Cole received 2 ½-year prison terms and a $40,000 fine.
Both former cops were found guilty of stealing a total of $14,781 from six victims between July 2020 and July 2021 while on duty. Additionally, Cole took two firearms from the victims. Russo reprimanded Sims for disgracing the reputation of hard-working officers and undermining public trust in the criminal justice system.
The arrests of Sims and Cole were part of a larger investigation into corruption within the East Cleveland Police Department, which has seen more than a dozen current and former officers charged with various crimes, including former Police Chief Scott Gardner.
Charges against Sims and Cole involved incidents where they stole money from victims during traffic stops, with Cole even issuing citations that included forged signatures from police personnel who were not present at the scenes. Both officers pleaded guilty to four counts of robbery and one count of theft in office. They each expressed remorse during their sentencing, with the judge emphasizing the severity of their breach of trust as police officers.
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