2d Philly officer sentenced in heroin scheme

Posted: May 10, 2011

For the second day in a row, a former Philadelphia police officer was sentenced to prison for a scheme to steal and resell heroin.

Robert Snyder, 30, who became a police officer in March, 2007, will serve 13 years in prison. He was one of three officers arrested last year in connection with the heroin plot. He was also charged and pleaded guilty to his role in plotting a planned armed robbery.

His wife, Christal, will be sentenced Monday for her role in organizing the scheme with her sister's boyfriend, Angel Ortiz, a drug dealer. She faces a 10 year sentence. Ortiz will be sentenced this week. Both have pleaded guilty.

Snyder sobbed in the courtroom as he expressed remorse and regret that the couple's three children will be without their parents for 10 years. Who will care for the children, - ages 11, 7 and 3 - was not discussed in court.

More than a dozen friends and family were in court, and Christal Snyder bowed her head as her husband spoke.

Defense attorney William Spade argued for a 10-year sentence, but U.S. District Court Chief Judge Harvey Bartle III cited Snyder's betrayal of his oath as a police officer.

Snyder, who was left by his mother when he was 17 - she moved back to Kentucky to remarry - worked five years as a custodian at a downtown office building before becoming an officer.

"He was making significantly more money," Spade wrote in a sentencing memo. "By his own admission, Mr. Snyder did not need the relatively small amount of money he received as payment for his crimes."

Monday, 10-year veteran James Venziale was sentenced to 42 months in jail for his role in the scheme. Both men had pleaded guilty.

The third officer, Mark Williams, was convicted at trial and has not yet been sentenced.

Snyder also admitted to plotting to rob a supposed Mafia cash courier.

Contact staff writer Nathan Gorenstein at 215-854-2797 or ngorenstein@phillynews.com.

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