Drug defendant gets light sentence as cop's past is probed

Posted: August 15, 2014

NO ONE in court yesterday disputed that, when Philly cops stopped Khristen Jones' car on April 1, they found more than 496 grams of marijuana worth $4,940, nearly $5,600 in cash, a drug scale, a gun holster and drug-dealing paraphernalia.

With all that evidence, it would seem that the District Attorney's Office would have no problem securing a conviction and prison sentence for Jones, 37, of Woodlyn, Delaware County.

Instead, Assistant D.A. Geremy Johnson agreed with defense lawyer Lonny Fish to drop a felony drug-dealing charge and let Jones plead no contest to a misdemeanor possession charge.

Municipal Judge Karen Y. Simmons then sentenced Jones to six months of probation, after which the case will be expunged from his record.

Jones - who could have faced six years in state prison if convicted of both charges - likely has his arresting officer, Christopher Hulmes, to thank for the break he caught yesterday.

Hulmes, an 18-year veteran cop who has been with the Narcotics Strike Force for five years, last week was put on desk duty after it was reported that in December 2011 he admitted to lying to obtain a May 2010 search warrant, and during a subsequent preliminary hearing in the drug-and-weapon case of Arthur Rowland.

Common Pleas Judge James Murray Lynn in January 2012 suppressed prosecution evidence against Rowland and blasted Hulmes, who admitted to lying about when a confidential informant had bought drugs to protect that person's identity.

"You cannot put an officer on the witness stand who is going to say I lied to an issuing magistrate; you cannot do that. It is reprehensible," Lynn said during his ruling.

"You cannot lie to the judges and expect the judges to do justice. It cannot be done. It is not the way this country was founded."

The Philadelphia City Paper last week first reported on Hulmes' being benched.

Police Department spokeswoman Rhonda Bowens said Hulmes had been reassigned to the Differential Response Unit answering phones, where he will remain pending an Internal Affairs investigation.

Defense attorney Fish said that if the D.A.'s office had not agreed to a probation sentence for Jones, he was prepared to call Hulmes as a witness and question him about lying in Rowland's case.

"I gave them an offer they could not refuse," Fish said, smiling. "I got a sweetheart deal because of it."

But Tasha Jamerson, spokeswoman for the D.A.'s office, characterized the outcome of Jones' case differently.

"The commonwealth was prepared to call Officer Hulmes to testify, but at the time this case was called to trial, not all of the witnesses were available to take the stand," she said.

"Based on the evidence in the case, the fact that this was a second listing, and the defendant's lack of a prior criminal record, both the commonwealth and the defense agreed to a no-contest plea," she said.

Jamerson said the D.A.'s office had not lost faith in Hulmes' credibility as a witness.

On Twitter: @MensahDean

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