Oct. 10--A former Camden City police officer who admitted his role in a corrupt antidrug unit and cooperated with federal authorities was sentenced Wednesday to 20 months in prison after an emotionally charged hearing before U.S. District Judge Robert Kugler.
"I regret everything I did, Your Honor," Kevin Parry said before Kugler imposed sentence. "I think about it every day."
Parry, who pleaded guilty and testified for the prosecution in the trial of two other members of the unit, apologized to the residents of the city, to members of the Police Department, and to his family.
"I'm sorry for tarnishing the reputation of the police officers of the City of Camden," he said. "To my family and friends, I'm sorry that I became what I despised. Thank you for standing by me."
Parry's wife, sister, mother, and father had spoken on his behalf, asking Kugler for leniency.
The judge said that, in determining a sentence, he had to balance Parry's cooperation and remorse against the seriousness of the offense. Under federal sentencing guidelines, Parry faced 30 to 37 months in prison.
Kugler said he felt Parry's remorse was genuine.
"I believe he's tortured by what he did," Kugler said at one point, quickly adding that Parry and the other officers were guilty of a breach of faith that damaged not only the Police Department, but also the city.
Parry, 32, of Brooklawn, is to begin serving his sentence Jan. 2.
He was one of five officers targeted in an FBI investigation into allegations that members of the antidrug unit routinely stole drugs and cash from suspected dealers, planted evidence, fabricated arrest reports, and lied while testifying before grand juries.
The investigation and subsequent corruption charges led the Camden County Prosecutor's Office to dismiss or vacate drug charges against nearly 200 people, many of whom had already begun serving prison sentences.
Most were freed from prison.
In December, Parry testified for the government in the corruption trial of fellow officers Antonio Figueroa, 36, and Robert Bayard, 34.
A jury found Figueroa guilty but acquitted Bayard.
Kugler sentenced Figueroa in September to 10 years in prison. Two other former members of the drug unit, Dan Morris, 49, and Jason Stetser, 34, also pleaded guilty and cooperated. They are awaiting sentencing.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Skahill said Parry's cooperation was significant and had a major impact on the investigation because he was the first to cooperate and because he provided detailed information.
Skahill said it was Parry's cooperation that led Stetser and Morris to plead guilty.
William Hughes Jr., Parry's defense attorney, argued, among other things, that Parry had been traumatized after shooting and killing a suspect in a case in March 2007. Parry was a rookie officer at the time and had been on the job about three months, his lawyer said.
The shooting affected his actions after he returned to work and was assigned to the antidrug unit. Parry, Hughes said, was torn between the corrupt actions of the unit and a desire to go along with officers who were supposed to watch one another's backs in dangerous drug neighborhoods.
"Everything about this case, how it happened and what happened, is a tragedy," Hughes said after Wednesday's hearing. "But Mr. Parry's involvement didn't start with the planting of drugs. . . . It started with a shooting on the dark streets of Camden in 2007."
Contact George Anastasia at 856-779-3846 or [email protected].
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