Originally published on February 7, 2015, at NationofChange.org
Two former Philadelphia police officers were sentenced to prison on Wednesday after pleading guilty to robbing drug dealers, falsifying arrest reports, and selling heroin while on duty. After the FBI arrested Officer Jonathan Garcia for selling heroin while in uniform, Garcia informed on his partner in the hopes of reducing his sentence. Although Garcia began cooperating with authorities early on in the investigation, he received a harsher sentence due to the fact that his partner never sold heroin with him.
Between December 2009 and June 2012, Philadelphia police officers Jonathan Garcia and Sydemy Joanis devised a plan to arrest suspected drug dealers, rob them, and falsify seizure reports by failing to disclose the correct amount of money or drugs confiscated during the arrests. After becoming partners in 2009, Garcia and Joanis seized a large amount of marijuana during an arrest. Garcia convinced Joanis to falsify their report and keep half of the marijuana for themselves. After that initial theft, the officers developed a pattern of robbing drug dealers and lying on their reports.
“I had a decision to make,” Joanis recalled. “Whether I was going to turn someone in that I cared about, or just hope that no one ever found out. I didn’t have the courage to do the right thing.”