Report: 'Tainted Justice' cop fired

Cujdik
Cujdik
Posted: May 14, 2014

A MEASURE of justice finally may have come to the alleged victims of a tainted narcotics squad.

Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey announced yesterday that Officer Jeffrey Cujdik has been suspended for 30 days with intent to dismiss, the Inquirer reported last night.

Attempts by the Daily News to reach Ramsey last night were unsuccessful.

Ramsey told the Inquirer that Cujdik, a member of the Narcotics Field Unit who was seen on video dismantling the surveillance-camera system during a raid on a bodega, along with other officers, will be fired. Twenty- two shop owners had independently come forward in 2009 accusing officers of looting their stores of cash and merchandise. Investigators, however, closed the case without interviewing all 22 merchants.

In addition, three of Cujdik's colleagues on the squad will be suspended, Ramsey told the Inquirer.

The four - Cujdik, his brother Richard, Robert McDonnell Jr. and Thomas Tolstoy - have been on desk duty since 2009, when the Daily News published a series of stories that unearthed accusations of wild misconduct and abuse by the officers. A fifth member of that squad who also was reassigned has since retired.

The articles by Daily News reporters Wendy Ruderman and Barbara Laker, cumulatively titled "Tainted Justice," won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting.

Danilo Burgos, former head of the 300-member Dominican Grocers Association who is running for a state House seat in North Philadelphia, said last night that he was outraged at the delay in punishing the officers.

"In 2014, these five white police officers can get away with raping our community," Burgos told the Daily News. "If these victims were white, it would be a different outcome."

Burgos said he wished the that officers would receive harsher punishment. "But obviously, Internal Affairs didn't do a good job and that's why we are where we are."

In the fallout from the Daily News series, Cujdik also was accused of falsifying search-warrant applications to gain access to suspected drug homes, and of maintaining an improper business partnership with a confidential drug informant.

After investigating for five years, the U.S. Attorney's Office declined several months ago to file charges against the squad.

Ramsey subsequently turned the files over to the Internal Affairs Bureau, which has "sustained several of the allegations" against some of the officers, he told the Daily News last month.

Not long after the Daily News reported that no criminal charges would be filed against the officers, the District Attorney's Office announced that it would review the cases of two women who claimed to have been sexually assaulted by Tolstoy.

"It makes sense for us to do this now, given the criticism we've received for something we never looked at before," First Assistant District Attorney Ed McCann told the Daily News at the time of the announcement.

One woman, whom the People Paper identified as Naomi, said Tolstoy penetrated her vagina with a finger. The woman immediately walked to the hospital, where a rape kit was ordered. She didn't know the name of the officer, but Internal Affairs took Tolstoy off the street that night.

Ramsey has said that a federal grand jury heard her case but decided not to prosecute.

Dagma Rodriguez and Lady Gonzalez, who independently told the Daily News that Tolstoy lifted their shirts and fondled their breasts in two separate raids, have not been interviewed by federal or local prosecutors.

Both women told the Daily News last night that they were outraged that Tolstoy had received a 30-day suspension.

"Are you serious?" Gonzalez asked. "I can't believe he's still going to be a cop. I just don't understand how the system works. I'm upset, really upset. This is all just fixed. I'm so upset he got away with it."

Rodriguez agreed.

"This is just so crooked," she said. "This is just not right. I have no words. If it was anyone else, not a cop, the person would be charged with a crime."

Internal Affairs did not send files on the assault allegations to the D.A., Ramsey said last month.

"They couldn't find enough to send," Ramsey said.


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