Thu February 6, 2014
Former Buffalo cop pleads guilty to trafficking marijuana
Former Buffalo Police officer James Hamilton will serve time in a federal prison after pleading guilty Thursday to felony drug trafficking charges.
Hamilton was arrested in November at his Floss Avenue home after selling marijuana to an informant. A search of his home turned up a substantial marijuana growing operation with quantities of processed marijuana and plants for more production.
After his arrest, he was immediately fired as an officer, which was allowed because he was still probationary.
DEA Resident Agent in Charge Michele Spahn says Hamilton is a known trafficker.
"We know, as a fact, that he did sell quantities of marijuana to at least one individual that we know of," Spahn said. "We believe him to be self-sufficient in that he did have his own marijuana grow operation at his home."
Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda says one crooked cop tarnished the reputations of the department's good cops.
"Ninety-nine percent of them do the right thing every day. Ninety-nine percent are hard-working, some of the best in the nation. Their badges should not be tarnished by the actions of this one individual or others who choose to commit crimes," Derenda said.
"In this case, we had a drug dealer masquerading as a police officer, and now he had paid a hefty price."
Derenda says it's not clear if Hamilton was dealing drugs before he became an officer. U.S. Attorney William Hochul says Hamilton will probably be sentenced to three years in jail in June by Federal District Judge William Skretny.
The commissioner says he ii talking with the city's Human Resources Department about the way people are screened and hired as officers before they go to the Police Academy. There is another class scheduled for August.