Posted by Edmond Geary on 07-28-2010
Angel “Fat Boy” Ortiz had a meeting near the North Philadelphia Amtrak station. He met with James Venziale to discuss some business. The idea was to steal some heroin from Miguel Santiago with the help of Philadelphia police officers and then sell the heroin to drug dealer. The problem was that the intended purchaser, the drug dealer, was an undercover DEA special agent.
Now three Philadelphia police officers are facing federal charges of planning the theft of 300 grams of heroin and selling it to a drug dealer. Robert Snyder, Mark Williams, and James Venziale are Philadelphia police officers. ‘They are charged with four other people, including three reputed drug dealers and Snyder’s wife, Christal.
The Police Commissioner was aghast. He was planning to terminate the three police officers.
The police officers met with “Fat Boy” over several weeks and another apparent drug dealer, Zachary Young. Their plan was for the police officers to stop a vehicle to make it appear to Santiago that the drugs were being lawfully seized by law enforcement.
Officers Venziale and Williams, on duty and in uniform, stopped a car occupied by Ortiz and the undercover agent. Ortiz had just received the heroin from a courier. Venziale and Williams handcuffed Ortiz and permitted the undercover agent to drive with the 300 grams of heroin. Venziale and Willams then drove Ortiz away and later released him. Venziale and Williams later met with Ortiz, who paid the two officers $6,000. Ortiz also met with Christal Snyder and paid her an unknown amount of cash.
The reaction to the indictment from many sectors of the community was disappointment. Majeedah Rashid, director of the Nicetown Community Development Corporation, said the indictment diminished the community’s trust in the police. “We work very closely with the community relations people there. It’s a long running relationship. It’s unfortunate that this happens because you’re going to end up losing the trust of the community and we worked so hard to established.,” he said.
Ralph Wynder, an activist in the Allegheny West section and chairman of the Residents Coalition, a coalition of community groups in the Allegheny West and East Falls, said the indictment was troubling. Wynder stated, “If the charges prove to be true, this will become a very disturbing series of events.” He said his community has worked closely with the 39th District, the Police District to which the indictees belong, over the past 10 years.
Venziale, Williams, Robert and Christal Snyder, Ortiz, Young, and Santiago are all charged with conspiracy to distribute 100 grams of more of heroin and related counts, which include the charge against Christal Snyder of passing information between Ortiz and the three officers. Santiago is in parts unknown. The F.B.I. and the D.E.A. are looking for him.