Ex-Cop Sentenced Seven Years For Stealing Nearly 100 lbs of Drugs From Evidence Locker

Judge reportedly came down hard on Alan Souto, telling the ex-cop he violated the public's trust

WPIX-TV | May 18, 2009
By Michelle Robinson

NEWARK, N.J. (WPIX) - A U.S. District Judge sentenced a former Passaic County Sheriff's Officer to seven years in federal prison for swiping nearly 100 pounds of cocaine from the department's evidence locker in Wayne.

As commander, guarding the drugs was his responsibility.

Judge Jose L. Linares reportedly came down hard on Alan Souto, telling the ex-cop he violated the public's trust and the trust of each and every one of the officers, who wage a dangerous battle on the streets everyday against drug abuse.

"This country spends millions and millions taking drugs off the street," Judge Linares told a weeping Souto in court during his sentencing.

The disgraced officer read a statement to Linares, owning up and taking responsibility for what he did.

"I ruined my life, and more importantly, the lives of others because of my selfishness," he told the judge as tears rolled down his face. "I violated my oath and disgraced my badge and disgraced myself forever."

The 19-year veteran of the Sheriff's Department is a former Haledon councilman and trustee on the Board of Education. He pleaded guilty in December 2008 to a single count of conspiracy to distribute a controlled dangerous substance. In entering the guilty plea, he admitted stealing 43 kilograms - 94.6 pounds - of cocaine and one kilogram - 2.2 pounds - of heroin between November 2007 and February 2008. Souto covered his tracks by replacing the drugs with cane sugar.

Souto, 40, also came clean about receiving more than $250,000 as his cut of the drug sales, the Associated Press reports.

"All of my community service, including saving lives, as well as my charitable work, have been negatively tainted forever," Souto said. "I will always be remembered as a dirty cop and a thief, as well as a drug distributor."

Souto was just months shy of retirement, before his arrest.

Miles Feinstein, Souto's attorney, asked the judge to let his client serve his sentence in a minimum security prison, because of his background in law enforcement. Judge Linares denied that request, saying he's going to leave the decision up to the Federal Bureau Of Prisons.

The law stipulates Souto serve mandatory time, which is 85% of the 85 months sentence before he's eligible for parole.When he's released, he will be subject to a mandatory five-year probation period, and he'll also have to submit to random drug testing.

Initially, Souto faced up to 135 months or nearly 12 years in prison, with a fine of up to $4 million. The government, instead, offered him a plea bargain after his cooperation with law enforcement officials led to the arrest and prosecution of two other men linked to the illegal drug operation.