Home News Local news 3 COPS GET PRISON FOR CIVIL-RIGHTS VIOLATIONS

3 COPS GET PRISON FOR CIVIL-RIGHTS VIOLATIONS

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July 5, 2001 — Three St. Croix police officers convicted last year of violating the civil rights of more than a dozen people over a four-year period were sentenced Thursday to serve 9, 5 and 2 years, respectively, in federal prison.
After hearing from the lawyers of former officers Ronald Pickard, Dean Bates and Renaldo Philbert and the defendants themselves, U.S. District Court Judge Raymond Finch sentenced Pickard to a total of nine years and nine months in prison. With 11 months already served in the Metropolitan Detention Center in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, Pickard will have to serve eight years and 10 months.
Pickard was facing approximately 51 years in prison after being convicted by a jury on July 26, 2000, on seven counts including assault with a deadly weapon, brandishing a handgun, civil rights violations and oppression. The jury acquitted Pickard on nine of the 22 counts against him, including a rape charge and threatening an FBI agent. The jury was unable to agree on six counts, which included allegations that Pickard stuck his gun in the face of a tourist in Christiansted.
Bates was sentenced to five years and nine months, with 11 months already served. Bates was convicted by the same jury on four of the same charges as Pickard and acquitted of two others. There was a hung jury on three counts.
Finch sentenced Philbert to two years, but the former officer will do 13 months because of credit for 11 months already served. The jury had found Philbert guilty on three counts of civil rights violations and assault.
Before receiving their sentences, Pickard and Philbert made unrepentant statements to Finch. Bates began to speak, but then stopped, apparently too emotional to continue.
"The Ronald Pickard the government portrayed -– I don’t know who he is," Pickard said in regard to the allegations made against him in last year’s trial.
During the five years he was on the police force, "I’ve been beaten, I’ve been stabbed and shot after," Pickard said. "As an officer I tried to do my best."
Like the other defendants and their attorneys, Pickard said he felt government prosecutors piled on as many charges as they could to ensure a conviction. He said the jury was "overwhelmed" with the 31 counts against him and his co-defendants.
But Assistant U.S. Attorney St. Claire Theodore said that the case was not "built on numbers."
"It’s a case built on victims," he said.
Philbert, who had been the department's officer of the month twice and is the father of three, told Finch to consider that the witnesses brought in by the government were "alcoholics, drug users, people with criminal histories and people who had reason to lie."
"I feel the prosecution is trying to bury me," Philbert said. "They don’t want me to see daylight again."
Finch said the defendants each have 10 days to appeal the sentences. After the hearing, former senator Mary Ann Pickard, Ronald Pickard’s mother, railed against the prison terms.
"That sentence today told the criminal element to take over," she said. "I’m going to appeal this. I’m going to fight this 'til I die."

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