New robbery, gun charges likely for alleged heroin-dealing cop

Posted: June 22, 2012

Philly cop Jonathan Garcia apparently got a kick out of being a drug dealer, according to federal prosecutors.

"S---'s popping! We got s--- popping!" he shouted into the phone to a man who he thought was a drug dealer and who had told Garcia that his heroin buyers were so happy with Garcia's heroin that they wanted more, according to court papers..

Little did Garcia know that the "dealer" was really a confidential informant working for the FBI and the feds were recording the conversation, according to the court papers.

Garcia, 23, who was indicted Wednesday for allegedly distributing heroin while on duty and in full uniform, could soon face new charges.

New court papers filed Thursday say that on Tuesday, Garcia, a three-year veteran who worked in the 17th Police District, headquartered in Point Breeze, robbed another confidential informant, who he also believed was a drug dealer. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin Brenner said prosecutors "anticipated" adding robbery and gun charges in that incident.

The new filing comes as Garcia, who has pleaded not guilty to charges of distributing heroin and using a firearm as part of a drug-trafficking crime, faces a bail hearing in federal magistrate court on Friday.

Brenner painted Garcia as a rogue cop who displayed an "unabashed exuberance" for and "absolutely relished" his drug-trafficking business. Garcia distributed heroin on several occasions from April to June to an informant who was working with Philadelphia police and the FBI, according to an FBI arrest affidavit.

"This is an absolute disgrace and a violation of all of the values and principles for which we stand," Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey wrote in a statement Thursday. Ramsey has suspended Garcia for 30 days with intent to dismiss.

Garcia was so brazen on the job that he allegedly sold heroin across the street from the 17th District building at 20th and Federal streets.

Other officers reported Garcia's apparent drug-dealing ways to the police Internal Affairs Bureau, Ramsey wrote. Jointly, the FBI and Internal Affairs conducted a thorough investigation, which resulted in the indictment, he said.

"No one in this Police Department wants to have someone like Officer Garcia in his squad or unit," Ramsey wrote. "This is our Police Department, not Officer Garcia's or anyone like him who tarnishes our badge, our image and our mission."

Garcia lived with his mother and other family members on a quiet block of Sedgley Avenue near K Street in Kensington. No one answered the door Thursday at the two-story, blue-painted brick home with a front yard encased in a white picket fence. Garcia's attorney, Scott DiClaudio, was unavailable for comment.

Neighbors said they were stunned by the news.

"A priest is a priest. A police officer is a police officer," one neighbor who requested anonymity said. "He's supposed to take care of you. For this to happen, it's just a shame. You see someone in uniform and you don't think he can do this. You don't want to believe it."

The pending robbery and gun charges stem from an incident on Tuesday that occurred hours before Garcia's arrest.

An FBI informant told Garcia that he knew someone who was selling OxyContin pills for $30 each, court papers said. Garcia allegedly told the informant to buy three pills from the person and leave two of them on the floor of the individual's car.

Unbeknown to Garcia, the individual selling OxyContin was a second FBI informant, and the FBI planted 100 OxyContin pills and $2,500 in prerecorded bills in the center console of the car.

A little later, Garcia was on duty when he pulled the car over, searched it and arrested the person, according to court papers.

Garcia returned to the 17th District and submitted property receipts showing that he seized only $420 in cash and 90 pills, the court filing said.

That evening, FBI agents arrested Garcia at home. When they searched his car, they discovered $1,400 that he had allegedly stolen. It's unclear what happened to the remaining $680.

After his arrest, Garcia gave a statement in which he admitted that the robbery wasn't the only one he'd committed while on duty, according to court papers.

Over the past 18 months, Garcia had allegedly used an informant more than 30 times to set up drug dealers by planting crack in their cars. Garcia would subsequently pull the dealers over in his marked police cruiser, seize any money or drugs found, and arrest the dealer, prosecutors said. n

— Staff writer Barbara Laker contributed to this report. Contact Michael Hinkelman at 215-854-2656 or or follow on Twitter @MHinkelman.

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