Police Officers Took Bribes Of Tequila, FBI Probe Alleges
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Police Officers Took Bribes Of Tequila, Food In Exchange For Dropped Citations, FBI Probe Alleges

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A sign marks the exterior of the Antioch police headquarters in Antioch, Calif., on April 19, 2023. Racist police text messages containing slurs and images of gorillas will take center stage in a San Francisco Bay Area courtroom on Friday, July 21, 2023, as a judge weighs whether the messages violated a state law designed to stamp out racism in the criminal court system. (AP Photo/Terry Chea, File)

An FBI investigation has implicated 10 police officers in a sweeping corruption case that ranged from college degree benefits fraud to anabolic steroid distribution and tequila bribes.

On Thursday, arrests were made following an 18-month probe targeting officers in Antioch and Pittsburg, California.

According to the charges, five officers were involved in a years-long ticket-fixing scheme in which liquor and favors were exchanged for dropped citations.

Evidence of the bribery dates back to 2020, when former Antioch police Officer Timothy Manly Williams allegedly canceled a traffic ticket in exchange for a bottle of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s Teremana Tequila. In another incident, Officer Calvin Prieto allegedly accepted a $300 bribe under the condition that a fellow officer wouldn’t show up to court — effectively dismissing a citation. The funds were later used to buy three bottles of tequila.

“She said she won’t show up,” Prieto reportedly texted. “And that there’s no obligation to a bottle. But if one randomly appears she’ll take it.”

The indictment also mentions a college degree benefits scam in which officers allegedly hired people to take classes and exams on their behalf.  Police departments award salary raises to officers who earn college degrees; as such, six reportedly involved officers are now being charged with wire fraud.

Furthermore, the indictment alleges intent to distribute anabolic steroids (two officers), falsifying evidence (one officer) and texting pictures of illegal excessive force (three officers).

“This will go down in history as one of the darkest moments in this city,” said Lamar A. Thorpe, mayor of Antioch, in an interview. 

For Thorpe, some of the charges are personal: the investigation revealed that at least 45 officers exchanged racist and homophobic texts regarding the mayor. One reportedly said that they wanted to shoot him.

Across the indictment, involved officers face a maximum sentence ranging from 10 to 20 years in prison.

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Pedro Wolfe is the managing editor of Tequila Raiders. With several years of experience writing for the New York Daily News and the Foothills Business Daily under his belt, Pedro aims to combine quality reviews and recipes with incisive articles on the cutting edge of the tequila world. Pedro has traveled to the heartland of the spirits industry in Tequila, Mexico, and has conducted interviews with agave spirits veterans throughout Mexico, South Africa and California. Through this diverse approach, Tequila Raiders aims to celebrate not only tequila but the rich tapestry of agave spirits that spans mezcal, raicilla, bacanora, pulque and so much more.