HIGHLAND PARK (WWJ) - Four Highland Park police officers are facing multiple felony charges after allegedly accepting bribes and taking part in an armed drug trafficking conspiracy.
Charges against 29-year-old Anthony Bynum, 38-year-old Price Montgomery, 33-year-old Shawn Williams, and 55-year-old Craig Clayton, were announced Friday in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit.
Bynum and Montgomery are both Highland Park police officers, while Williams and Clayton are auxiliary officers for the city.
Bynum, who is also an auxiliary officer for Detroit Public Schools, Montgomery and Clayton are Highland Park residents. Williams is a resident of Detroit.
U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade said their investigation began in August after Bynum and Montgomery arrested a man for carrying a firearm. The officers allegedly beat the man and stole his jewelry and money. According to the complaint, the officers later indicated to the man that if he paid them money, they would help get his criminal case dismissed.
The police chief of Highland Park received a complaint about the situation and contacted the FBI. Federal investigators met with the man, who agreed to become an informant.
McQuade said Bynum and Montgomery were then caught on video accepting $10,000 in cash after making good on their part of the bargain by not showing up at the man’s arraignment, resulting in his case being dismissed.
McQuade said Bynum’s and Montgomery’s relationship with the man evolved to include drug trafficking when the officers agreed to transport and deliver two kilograms of “sham cocaine.”
According to investigators, On Nov. 15, both officers protected and delivered what they thought was cocaine from the Oakland Mall in Troy to a location in Taylor. McQuade said each officer was paid $1,500 for their role in the operation.
Bynum and Montgomery then recruited two more officers, Williams and Clayton, to help deliver a second larger shipment of the fake cocaine on Jan. 23, McQuade said.
“The four officers went to Oakland Mall where they assisted in what they believed was a four kilogram shipment of cocaine. Each of those officers on Wednesday was paid either $1,000 or $15,000 by the source for protecting that shipment. Each officer carried a gun, and some of them also carried their badges while they were protecting that load,” said McQuade.
The four men are charged with accepting bribes (a maximum of 10 years in prison), conspiring to distribute cocaine (a maximum of 40 years in prison), and carrying a in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense (at least five years and up to life in prison).
Police Chief Kevin Coney said the conduct of the four officers does not reflect on the rest of the city’s police force, a membership of about 60.
“The illegal actions of these officers do not represent or reflect the ethical standards and values consistent with the Highland Park Police Department. We remain committed to providing our citizens with first class public safety and ensuring our officers display integrity at all times,” he said in a statement.
The case was investigated by the FBI led Public Corruption Task Force, Michigan State Police, the Michigan Attorney General’s Office, and the Detroit Police Department.