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Ex-Philly Cops Plead Guilty To Heroin Conspiracy

February 07, 2011  | 

Two former Philadelphia Police officers have pleaded guilty to a heroin conspiracy involving their plan to rob a dealer, and then distribute the drug to another person they believed to be a dealer and money launderer but who was an undercover officer, the FBI has announced.

Robert Snyder, 30, and James Venziale, 32, entered their gulty pleas today. When they were charged in July, Snyder and Venziale were Philadelphia PD officers assigned to the 25th and 39th Police Districts, respectively.

Charges were also filed against Officer Mark Williams, Zachary Young, Angel Ortiz, Christal Snyder, and Miguel Santiago.

The two defendants planned to steal the heroin from Santiago. The undercover special agent represented the Drug Enforcement Administration.

On May 14, after Santiago's drug courier delivered 300 grams of heroin, Venziale — who was on duty and in uniform at the time — stopped Ortiz's vehicle. With Santiago's drug courier watching nearby, Venziale made it appear as if the heroin was being seized and Ortiz arrested.

As a result, the former officers obtained 300 grams of heroin without paying Santiago. Venziale was then paid for taking part in the scheme. In addition to the conspiracy count, Venziale pleaded guilty to knowingly and intentionally distributing 299 grams of a substance containing a detectable amount of heroin; and possessing with the intent to distribute 100 grams or more of heroin within 1,000 feet of a school.

Snyder also pleaded guilty conspiracy to distribute 100 grams or more of heroin, possession with intent to distribute 100 grams or more of heroin; possession with the intent to distribute 100 grams or more of heroin within 1,000 feet of a school; use of a communication facility in furtherance of drug trafficking; conspiracy to commit robbery which interferes with interstate commerce; attempted robbery which interferes with interstate commerce; and using and carrying a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.

Both defendants are scheduled to be sentenced May 10. Snyder faces a minimum of 10 years in prison; Venziale faces   minimum of five years in prison. The remaining co-defendants are awaiting trial.

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