PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A federal jury has acquitted a former Philadelphia police sergeant of lying to the FBI about money seized during a drug raid.
Jurors deliberated for only one hour Friday before clearing 50-year-old Michael Kennedy of eight counts of making false statements to the FBI, obstruction and conspiracy, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
The 27-year police veteran was indicted last year after security camera footage was posted online that the occupants of the apartment said showed Kennedy taking money from a nightstand during the 2016 raid.
According to court documents, Kennedy told investigators he put the money into his pocket to later log it into evidence. Federal authorities alleged that he lied to investigators, and coached another officer to lie about the evidence transaction. The second officer was not charged.
Kennedy testified at trial that he gave a flawed account due to a memory lapse rather than a deliberate attempt to deceive the agents.
“It’s been a long time coming. My life has been hold for six years because of the incident,” Kennedy said after the verdict. He called the case one of “overzealous” prosecutors who “never gave me an opportunity to clear things up.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph A. LaBar said it was suspicious that Kennedy and the other officer told the same false cover story. “Ask yourself if they somehow coincidentally came up with the same story,” he said.
Defense attorney Michael Drossner said the other officer acted on his own initiative believing that Kennedy “was being railroaded.”
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Kennedy, a member of an elite narcotics unit who joined the force after a decade as a Marine, said he tried to provide an accurate account of the raid to FBI officials but inadvertently got some things wrong.
“It was nine months after the fact,” he testified. “Certain facts weren’t clear.”
The two people were charged with weapon and drug charges following the raid and were held for months. The criminal cases against them were dismissed in 2017 after a judge ruled that police did not have probable cause to search the apartment.