Two more men have drug charges dropped
Two additional men who were accused of drug offenses by the Southampton town police had charges against them quietly dropped last year -- bringing the total known dismissed cases to five, according to a person familiar with a Suffolk DA's investigation and a lawyer for one of the men.
Karron Whidbee and Nathaniel Cooper, both of whom had been arrested in a "crack house" raid by Southampton cops in 2011, had charges against them dropped as a result of findings in an ongoing probe by Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota into the police department's Street Crime Unit, the person said.
William Ferris, an attorney for Cooper who has filed a notice of claim -- a step signaling a possible lawsuit -- against the town's police department and Suffolk County, confirmed Cooper had charges against him dismissed last year.
Ferris said prosecutors at the court proceeding "didn't go into" the reasons for the dismissal, but said it was done "in the interest of justice after an investigation by the district attorney's office."
Robert Clifford, a spokesman for Spota, said the DA's review of around 100 cases is ongoing.
Spota's office last year officially announced the release of two convicted drug dealers, Mohammed Proctor and Bernard Cooks, after revelations that a police officer in the street crime unit had been addicted to prescription drugs. That officer, Eric Sickles, has been suspended since last year, but has been reinstated.
Newsday last month reported that another man, Kwame Opoku, who was arrested in the same raid as Cooper, Whidbee and Cooks, also had a conviction against him dropped. He remains jailed on unrelated charges, his lawyer said.
Attempts to reach Whidbee, who records show pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of drug possession, were not successful. He was not jailed as a result of the charges.
Cooper pleaded guilty to felony attempted criminal possession of a controlled substance and was given a 9-month sentence, records show.
Ferris in February filed a notice of claim against the town police department and Suffolk County, alleging that on Jan. 19, 2011, Cooper was falsely arrested and maliciously prosecuted, according to paperwork filed in the Proctor case by the town's attorney.
Jeltje DeJong, an outside attorney for Southampton Town, has said town police officers in each of the cases "acted in accordance with the law." She called it "unfortunate that the DA vacated those decisions." Nevertheless, she said, "In each case, we believe the jury will find in favor of the police and the town."
Tiffany Scarlotta, the Southampton Town attorney, didn't return a call seeking comment. A call to the town Police Department also wasn't returned.