Two former Cleveland police officers were sentenced to two years in jail after pleading guilty to four charges of robbery and one count of theft in office after stealing firearms and nearly $14,000 from cars during traffic stops, according to Cleveland.com.
The Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office claimed in a statement that Alfonzo Cole, 35, and his former partner Willie Sims, 32, stole from various victims while on duty from July 2020 to July 2021.
Sims is accused of stealing $3,850 from a victim’s vehicle on July 7, 2020. Prior to the theft, the 52-year-old victim and another female were engaged in a verbal dispute in a gas station parking lot when Sims arrived. Sims reportedly grabbed money from the victim’s vehicle after discovering a gun inside and conducting a search.
Sims also stole $1,300 from another victim’s vehicle after initiating a traffic stop on November 8, 2020. When the victim removed the money, it was in the trunk of his vehicle. Sims then stole from the same victim at a traffic check at a gas station on July 8, 2021, according to the complaint. The convicted former cop is accused of stealing $781 and suspected marijuana edibles from the victim’s vehicle.
Cole, on the other hand, took $850 from the vehicle of a 43-year-old victim during a traffic check on September 22, 2020. He also removed suspected marijuana worth around $400 from the victim’s vehicle. According to the complaint, Cole then gave the victim a traffic citation with his signature and the signature of an East Cleveland Police sergeant.
Cole retrieved $4,000, suspected marijuana, and a weapon from the vehicle of a 26-year-old victim during another traffic check on June 22, 2021. On the same day, the convicted ex-cop pulled over another vehicle and questioned the 18-year-old victim whether there was a gun in the car. He then “removed the victim’s mother’s firearm, which was located under the seat, and bullets, which were located in the glove box, from the vehicle.”
Sims and Cole also conducted another traffic stop on July 8, 2021, and seized $4,000 from the vehicle of a 21-year-old victim. “The victim reported the theft to the East Cleveland Police Department (ECPD), who contacted the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Department (CCSD),” according to the statement.
“CCSD executed a search warrant at Alfonzo Cole’s residence on July 13, 2021, and recovered the guns from both June 22, 2021, traffic stops, along with suspected marijuana edibles.”
Cole also falsified the signature of an East Cleveland Police sergeant for the ticket he issued on September 22, 2020, according to the report. The sergeant in question was also not present when the traffic stop was carried out. The two ex-cops grabbed $14,781 in cash and two guns from six victims.
In addition to their convictions, visiting Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court Judge Timothy McGinty fined Sims and Cole $40,000 and ordered them to repay $5,000 to a victim they robbed together, according to Cleveland.com.
“This sentence is a continuation of our efforts to eliminate corruption in the East Cleveland police department,” Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael O’Malley said.
Prior to Sims’ sentencing, however, McGinty stated that the 32-year-old informed the court’s probation department that he was simply following in the footsteps of the department’s elder officers, who developed a habit of stealing money from drug dealers with little “remorse.”