Former St. Louis police officer gets 4 years in cocain conspiracy

Friday, July 20, 2007

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- A former suburban St. Louis police sergeant was sentenced Friday to four years in prison for his role in a cocaine conspiracy.

Former Hillsdale Sgt. Christopher Cornell, 45, of St. Louis, pleaded guilty in May to one count of use of a communication device to facilitate a felony.

U.S. Attorney Catherine Hanaway said Cornell and five other St. Louis-area men were involved in a conspiracy distributing cocaine throughout the St. Louis area in 2005. She said Robert Wood III led the ring.

Wood, Mark Bonds, Bruce Gales and Mario Lucas have previously pleaded guilty and face sentencing in August or September. Another suspect, Christopher Jones, 38, of O'Fallon, remains at large.

The group orchestrated an elaborate scheme to steal cocaine shipments from low-level drug runners, according to their confessions. They arranged for cocaine to be shipped through Hillsdale. Cornell was notified, and would pull over the drug-laden car when the smugglers passed through town, Hanaway said.

Cornell said in pleading guilty that he took the drug runners to jail for minor violations and left their cars on the roadside. Gales then used his company, Galez Towing and Recovery, to impound the drug runner's car, which still had cocaine in it. The cocaine was then stolen and sold, Hanaway said.

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