John Desantis Jr., a veteran police officer in Lawrence, MA, has been out on sick leave since 2015. According to a GoFundMe page to support his family (on which $4,000 was raised), Desantis was diagnosed with a severe case of pneumonia. However, the supposedly ailing officer has legal problems to overcome, stemming from his time on patrol during the midnight shift. He was allegedly extorting a cocaine dealer to feed his blow appetite. The dealer got fed up and turned federal informant on Desantis.
According to the criminal complaint, Desantis had been copping personal quantities of coke off of the dealer (an undocumented immigrant from the Dominican Republic with two pending arrest warrants) for about a year. In an unorthodox maneuver, Desantis grabbed with personal Service Credit Union checks from the account of “John R. Desantis Jr.” and “Amy Desantis,” instead of cash. The buys would transpire at Desantis’ home or in parking lots. Nevertheless, everything was gravy until May 16, when Desantis invited the dealer into the living room and kitchen in his home. The Eagle Tribune reports:
Desantis “lifted his shirt to reveal a handgun and what appeared to be a police badge on his belt,” wrote Walker, adding Desantis also showed the informant a police identification card bearing a photograph.
The informant said he feared Desantis was either “an authentic police officer who would arrest him or a police imposter who intended to rob him,” according to the complaint.
Desantis then conducted a “pat-down search” of the informant, taking from him a bag of powdered cocaine and two bags of crack cocaine intended for other customers. The informant had cash in his car but Desantis did not take it — instead just throwing it at his alleged cocaine dealer.
Until this point, the dealer had no idea he was selling to a cop. Afterwards, Desantis texted the dealer, telling him to continue supplying him with the white.”So we know that you are not talking and keep in touch I will call you once a week and you bring a $150 so I can turn it in ….” reads one of the alleged texts. “You must answer when I call. No excuses. This way we know you are keeping quiet and you are not trouble for us. It is the only way so we don’t have to bring you in.”
In another text (in which Desantis used Google translate to convert his message into Spanish) he wrote, “You say nothing so you don’t get hurt … We after top brass and where the stuff comes in from. We been on this for over a year. You say anything, you go to jail. I worked out a deal for you because I think you are a good guy. We have phones wiretapped so we will know.”
According to the report prepared by FBI special agent John Walker, Desantis “had been exclusively assigned to uniform patrol operations” and “is not presently assigned to any type of drug investigation.” Furthermore, it states that the last time Desantis turned in drug evidence was Sept. 12, 2014. The last time he turned in evidence of any sort was Dec. 1, 2014. Walker concluded the report by claiming that Desantis “did unlawfully obtain and attempt to obtain property from a person by extortion.”
Desantis was arrested on federal extortion charges, on Thursday, and booked into the North Andover police department. He faces 20 years in prison if convicted, according to the Boston Globe.