Craig Clayton, a 55-year-old Highland Park police officer who was charged earlier this year in a bribery and cocaine delivery scheme along with three other officers, pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit extortion on Thursday, March 21 according to a news report at Mlive.com. Clayton will face up to 20 years in prison for his role in the conspiracy scheme, along with a fine of up to $250,000.
Clayton admitted in court that he was paid $1,500 to protect a drug delivery by driving a vehicle containing what he believed was cocaine. Clayton, along with Anthony Bynum, Price Montgomery, and Shawn Williams, all Highland police officers, agreed to take money in exchange for protecting a shipment of cocaine said to be four kilograms. In exchange for his plea, other charges were dropped according to U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade. These charges included conspiring to distribute cocaine, accepting bribes, and carrying in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense.
In driving the car, Clayton stated that he carried his gun and police badge in an effort to protect the shipment. Clayton was caught when an FBI informant gave him $1,500 in cash for his effort in the drug shipment.
The investigation into the four Highland Park officers began in August of 2012, when officers Bynum and Montgomery arrested a man who was carrying a firearm; the two officers allegedly stole the man’s money and jewelry after beating him, and told the victim that they would work to get the criminal case against him dismissed if he paid them money. Eventually, the FBI became involved after the victim informed the Highland Park police chief of what the officers were doing. Bynum and Montgomery’s relationship with the victim became more involved when things escalated to drug trafficking, and Clayton and Williams were brought into the scheme.
All four police officers were caught. Williams, Bynum, and Montgomery are currently facing federal charges.
Individuals who are accused of or arrested for a criminal offense, regardless of whether they are law enforcement officials or otherwise, must have a vigorous, effective defense in order to avoid harsh criminal penalties and possible prison time. Consult with a capable and experienced Michigan criminal defense lawyer immediately if you are under investigation or have been arrested.