January 13, 2006
Attorney General Corbett announces drug charges against two police officers in Westmoreland & Allegheny County cocaine investigation
Corbett identified the defendants as Robert Wright, 35, of 878 3rd Ave., Brackenridge and Eric Decroo, 26, of 118 Bayberry Drive, Sarver.
Both defendants are part-time police officers with the Vandergrift Police Department in Westmoreland County. Additionally, Decroo is employed as a part-time officer with the Freeport Borough Police Department in Allegheny County.
Corbett said today's arrests are the result of two separate investigations, involving the Westmoreland County Drug Task Force and the Allegheny County District Attorneys Office, which both began in the late summer of 2005. Evidence and testimony about both investigations was presented before a statewide investigating grand jury, which recommended that Corbett file the criminal charges announced today.
"These men violated the laws that they swore to uphold, turning their backs on their communities and their colleagues in law enforcement," Corbett said. "Worst of all, they broke a public trust and chose to serve their own self-interest rather than serving the citizens they took an oath to protect."
Corbett said the Westmoreland County Drug Task Force investigation was initiated when an officer working with the task force received information that Robert Wright, a part-time police officer in the Borough of Vandergrift, was allegedly involved in the use and sale of cocaine.
Based on that information, Corbett said arrangements were made to introduce Wright to an undercover agent from the Attorney General's Bureau of Narcotics Investigation.
The grand jury found that on Aug. 9, 2005, Robert Wright agreed to sell two "T's" of cocaine to an undercover BNI agent and a confidential informant working with the drug task force. A "T" or "teener" is a slang term for 1/16th of an ounce of cocaine.
Corbett said the drug sale occurred in an apartment located above the Oklahoma Inn, a bar in Oklahoma Borough, Westmoreland County.
Wright allegedly sold the undercover agent two "T's" of cocaine, approximately .88 grams, for $160.
Corbett said that while BNI agents and the Westmoreland County Drug Task Force were investigating Wright's alleged drug sales, the Allegheny County District Attorney's office was initiating a similar investigation into alleged cocaine sales involving Officer Wright and Officer Decroo.
The grand jury found that Decroo had told a fellow police officer that he and Wright were selling cocaine at bars in the Pittsburgh area and using and selling cocaine while they were on duty as police officers.
Corbett said that on Aug. 11, 2005, a police officer, working with the Allegheny County D.A.'s office for the purpose of this investigation, contacted Decroo for the purpose of buying cocaine.
The grand jury found that several telephone messages were exchanged between Decroo and the officer during the course of that day. In one of those messages, Decroo allegedly stated that he was having difficulty reaching his supplier and suggested that the officer contact Wright in order to secure the cocaine.
Later that evening Wright allegedly placed several calls to the officer, and was waiting outside her home when she returned home at approximately 3 a.m. At that time, Wright allegedly offered to sell the officer cocaine.
The grand jury found that two days later, on Aug. 14, 2005, Wright arranged to meet the officer at the Springdale Police Station, located in Springdale, Allegheny County, to complete the cocaine sale. Wright allegedly sold the officer seven small baggies of cocaine, approximately 5.3 grams, for $320.
Corbett said that it was shortly after the Aug. 9, 2005 drug transaction involving Wright and the BNI agent that investigators became aware of the similar drug probe being conducted in Allegheny County.
Corbett said information regarding both investigations was presented to the grand jury in an effort to identify the size and scope of this drug-selling operation, as well as to determine whether any additional officers or individuals were involved. The grand jury recommended that criminal charges be filed against both Wright and Decroo, but found no evidence that others were involved.
Corbett thanked the Westmoreland County Drug Task Force, Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala, Jr., Westmoreland County District Attorney John Peck and the Vandergrift Police Department for their assistance with this investigation.
Robert Wright is charged with one count of criminal conspiracy along with two counts each of possession of cocaine, delivery of cocaine, possession with intent to deliver cocaine and criminal use of a communications facility.
Eric Decroo is charged with one count each of criminal conspiracy and criminal use of a communications facility.
Both defendants will be preliminarily arraigned before Greensburg Magisterial District Judge James Albert.
Corbett said the case will be prosecuted in Westmoreland County by Deputy Attorney General Tomm A. Mutschler of the Attorney General's Drug Strike Force Section.
(A person charged with a crime is presumed innocent until proven guilty.)
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Editors' Note: Photos of the defendants and copies of the criminal complaints and grand jury presentment are available by contacting the Attorney General's Press Office at 717-787-5211.