In trial of accused narcotics cops, defense comes out swinging

The tale of the weed dealer, and the safe he couldn’t bolt to the floor

Chief Inspector Chris Werner walked to the stand with ramrod straight posture and a salad of medals attached to his crisp blue police uniform.

He was in federal court on Friday in an unusual position, as a witness for the defense of six former Philadelphia narcotics officers accused of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from drug dealers.

He testified for just a couple of hours, but when he was done, family members of the accused cops appeared to walking a little lighter and the lawyers representing the men seemed all the more confident.

The question now, is can those defense lawyers keep it up?

In what could be the final days of the epic trial against former narcotics officers, defense attorneys plan to call numerous high-level cops in an attempt to contradict the testimony of former and not-so-former drug dealers who have testified against them for the past four weeks.

On the stand, Werner flatly contradicted some of the most damaging allegations against the cops.

Prosecutors say the accused cops kidnapped Rodolfo Blanco, stole $12,000 cash and held him in a hotel for four days against his will after the officers found heroin and an AK-47 in his home.

Werner said there was no kidnapping. He approved Blanco application to become a confidential informant.

“Based on the circumstances, we decided to to put him in the hotel, with officers, and monitor phone calls,” said Werner, who as a captain in the department oversaw the narcotics squad.

Defense lawyers called nine witnesses to the stand in all in Friday, pursuing a line of questioning that underscored their argument that the FBI conducted a sloppy and incomplete investigation.

The first three of those witnesses were members of the FBI team that investigated the police corruption case, who were questioned repeatedly about potential witnesses the agents could have, but didn’t contact.

They were also questioned about physical evidence the agents were unable to locate.

FBI Special Agent Dennis Drum, one of the investigators on the police corruption case, acknowledged that agents could not locate the hotel where Blanco says he was held at, nor could did investigators ever find receipts for a Rolex watch that another drug dealer said was stolen.

The case continues Tuesday. There was no court on Monday. U.S. District Judge Eduardo Robreno has told the jury that the case could wrap up by early next week.