Ohio Trooper Tied to Money Laundering Activity Resigns

By Tara Dodrill | Yahoo! Contributor Network – September 20, 2011

An Ohio State Highway Patrol officer found himself in a lot of hot water this week and his house of cards unfolded. The story of Benjamin W. Richardson made headlines last week, but very few details of the sealed indictment became public until today. Richardson was suspended for the second time during his career while investigators gathered evidence but announced his resignationover the weekend. Fallout from the case will likely stretch from central Ohio all the way to the Mexican drug cartel.

The tangled web of deceit Richardson is charged with includes laundering drug money, lying on bank documents to fraud mortgage companies and false statements to investigators pertaining to his partial ownership of a local bar. Court documents allege the bar was merely a front to launder drug money.

Richardson served in a law enforcement capacity for 23 years, but this was not his first brush with trouble. A capitol employee caught Richardson in Gov. Ted Strickland’s ceremonial office with the lights off several years ago, garnering him a three-day suspension. Richardson appealed the punishment with the aid of his union representative, stating he was making a cellphone call to his then-wife. Regardless of what he was doing in the office, he was not attending to his duties and somewhere he was not permitted.

Perhaps if his union grievance had not prevailed, Richardson’s career would have ended before he disgraced the badge. The dedicated law enforcement officers which serve Ohio communities do not deserve to be painted with a brush of distrust because of the act a criminal who just happened to be wearing a uniform.

According to released court documents, a witness I the case fled the country in 2009. Allegedly the potential witness was held in Mexico by unindicted co-conspirators and members of a drug trafficking crew. In a related case U.S. federal investigators seized a large amount of drugs and $1 million in cash.

 The recently released case information also details a scenario where the witness was stopped on a traffic violation while in the process of fleeing. According to court released documents, the state trooper at the scene was in the process of searching the vehicle when the witness convinced the officer to call Richardson, who thwarted the search and possible arrest.

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