A fast-food receipt exposed a Kentucky police detective’s corruption and led to the investigation that shutdown the drug task force, the Louisville Courier Journal reported. The detective served five months in jail.
Kyle Willett went through a McDonald’s drive thru, purchased sweet tea and a cheeseburger, and then went to work. Outside a UPS global shipping hub, he took a package to his car, tore it open, pried open a metal safe inside and stole $40,000 in cash, the newspaper reported June 18.
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His mistake was stuffing his McDonald’s bag, with a receipt with his credit card information on it, into the package and mailing it to its original designation in Oakland, according to an article.
Willett was a veteran Louisville metro police narcotics detective. The lauded detective was featured on the True Crime TV show and was part of an elite drug task force assigned to intercept drug shipments sent through the mail, according to the article by Beth Warren. The task force combated a drug pipeline said to be responsible for 400 drug-related deaths last year.
Other details from the article are as follows:
A West Coast drug interdiction task force with a warrant to search the package waited on its arrival. The evidence should have helped them take down a drug trafficker; instead, it exposed Willett.
Thereafter, the FBI and Louisville police Public Integrity Unit conducted an investigation. Through surveillance cameras inside Willett’s SUV, they captured him stealing more money and something else strange. In violation of procedures, several detectives were taking packages to their vehicles and searching them without a warrant.
“It’s not legal,” said defense attorney Josh Schneider, a former narcotics prosecutor. “All the narcotics cops I worked with knew if they wanted to get inside a house, a box, they needed a warrant.”
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The joint task force that included Willett consisted of five members of LMPD, a Kentucky State Police officer, three Jefferson Country Sheriffs’ officers and one part-time Homeland Security agent. They received federal money, resources and training to do their job.
This joint task force intercepted 50 pounds of heroin, 197 pounds of cocaine and 190 pounds of meth in package flown through UPS, Fed-Ex and the U.S. Postal Service.
But the scandal halted the very task force assigned to stop a major drug pipeline.
“All of this was brought about by a dishonest cop who none of us have any sympathy for,” Kentucky State Police Commissioner Rick Sanders told the Louisville Courier Journal.
The task force restarted after 19 months with new procedures in place to ensure accountability, including no opening packages without a warrant, having security personal present when a package needs to be opened, and replacing the entire task force with new members.
“We had some systemic issues with the task force last time, so we needed to clean house completely,” U.S. Attorney for Western District of Kentucky Russell Coleman said.
Willett left the police force and pleaded guilty to stealing more than $74,000 between January and August 2016.
He received five months in federal prison and five months home detection with two years of probation.
Sanders called Willett’s brief jail sentence ”disturbing,” considering the impact of his actions.