CINCINNATI (FOX19) - A Cincinnati police officer is accused of exposing an undercover colleague to a nightclub owner under investigation and concealing $81,000 in off-duty income, federal officials announced Friday.
It’s all part of a money laundering and drugs trafficking investigation into local nightclubs that may have been “tipped off” about raids and possibly protected by “members of the Cincinnati Police Department,” according to court records unsealed Friday.
Quiana Campbell, 39, of Cincinnati, appeared in federal court at 3 p.m. on charges of lying to federal agents and filing false income tax returns, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Ohio.
Cincinnati Police Department and IRS Criminal Investigation began investigating Campbell for criminal offenses related to financial benefits she received as a result of her employment with the department several years ago, federal records unsealed Friday show.
Campbell has been with the police department for 11 years.
She came under scrutiny as part of an investigation into drug trafficking and street gangs by federal agencies and the Cincinnati Police Department, a criminal complaint states. The probe identified nightclubs suspected to be involved in money laundering to support the drug trafficking.
Drug proceeds paid entertainers to perform at the nightclubs to generate money, which then appeared to be legitimate income.
Investigators discovered a text message conversation between Campbell and a nightclub owner, court records show.
Campbell allegedly responded to a text from the nightclub owner asking if an individual was an undercover officer.
According to the affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, Campbell confirmed via text message that the person was an undercover officer and discussed with the club owner the possible reasons that the police department might investigate the nightclub.
“They work random nights and go into different bars. If they come back again next weekend I would say yes,” Campbell allegedly said in the Jan. 26, 2015 message, federal records state.
When federal agents questioned Campbell about the text conversation, she allegedly lied to them, according to the Department of Justice.
Campbell told the agents she would never confirm if an individual was a police officer because if they were working in an undercover capacity it would put them in danger, federal authorities wrote in their news release.
The name of the nightclub owner was not disclosed Friday.
Campbell also allegedly failed to report on her federal tax returns cash income that she earned working off-duty details.
According to police records, Campbell earned more than $81,000 total working off-duty details in 2015, 2016 and 2017. She did not report an accurate income when filing her taxes.
Court documents show Campbell was released with no bond on her own recognizance following her initial appearance.
A public defender appointed to represent her did not respond to a request for comment.
Campbell is scheduled to appear in court again on March 6 for a preliminary hearing.
She has been on desk duty under suspended powers since Nov. 2018 amid a federal investigation. At the time, Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters announced she was one of two vice officers on desk duty amid a federal investigation related to CPD’s vice unit, but her personnel file shows she was never a vice officer.
Campbell became a Cincinnati police officer in December 2008 and worked in Districts 1 and 5 and then was transferred to District 4, where she spent time in the Neighborhood Liaison Unit. She worked several off-duty details, including ones at nightclubs, bars and at Cincinnati Reds games, police records show.
She was working in the police impound lot when officials placed her on desk duty, her personnel file shows. Under suspended police powers, she has been unable to work off-duty details.
Campbell filed for bankruptcy last year, according to federal bankruptcy records.
We reached out to Cincinnati police officials for comment Friday.
An agency spokesman released the following statement: “The Cincinnati Police Department is aware of the indictment and arrest of Police Officer Quianna Campbell this afternoon. We will be monitoring the judicial process and provide an update if more information becomes available.”
Making a false statement to a federal agent is punishable by up to five years in prison.
Willfully filing a false tax return carries a potential maximum penalty of up to three years in prison. Congress sets the maximum statutory sentence.
It’s not clear yet if more officers or anyone else will be charged.
A colleague of Campbell’s who also worked scores of off-duty nightclub details, retired Cincinnati police captain, Michael Savard, entered pleas last year to federal charges of bribery and filing a false income tax return.
He faces up to 13 years in prison and a $350,000 fine when he is sentenced. A date has not been set.
He remains free on his own recognizance and has not publicly commented.
His lawyer is seeking probation and has told FOX19 NOW he hopes the veteran law enforcement official does not lose his pension.
Savard admitted to asking for and accepting a $5,000 bribe from an unnamed sergeant to retire early so the sergeant could be promoted, federal court records show.
Savard also “willfully filed false tax returns for the years 2015, 2016 and 2017,” the plea agreement states. He admitted he underreported his total income for 2015 by not reporting money he warned while working off-duty details.
Savard retired June 10, 2019 following his arrest a few days earlier.
He spent his final months with the Cincinnati Police Department on desk duty amid a federal investigation.
Federal officials have said the bribery charges stemmed from information that was uncovered by a separate investigation.
Savard and Campbell lost their police powers at a time in late 2018 and early 2019 that a record number of their fellow officers also were put on desk duty, including 9 in just two months.
At least two remain there today, including one more than a year later.
Several years ago, police internal investigators determined Savard violated police procedures for off-duty police details in 2015 and he was reprimanded at least once, records show.
One of the reprimands, from June 2016, was for failure of good behavior. An internal investigation concluded he violated procedures related to personally dispersing lump sum cash given to him from representatives of Celebrities Nightclub in Roselawn to pay officers working off-duty details there, according to a copy of the reprimand.
Savard supervised "virtually every Tuesday, Friday and Saturday night detail at the club, other police records show.
“The Department prohibits employment that presents a potential conflict of interest or reflects an abuse of official position that could give rise to illegal or unethical practices,” his reprimand states. “Sworn personnel, whether on duty or working a detail, may not handle currency or deposit bags. Sworn personnel are limited to escorting a responsible business employee.
“No sworn employee will receive lump sum payments for disbursement to officers working details. The outside employer must pay each detail officer directly or through City payroll," the reprimand states. “Secondary employers are required to document cash payments to officers working detail. An officer receiving a cash payment must sign for the cash payment.”
Cincinnati police last year changed its procedure for outside employment for officers by prohibiting them from taking cash payments.
The new policy, effective May 1, 2019, came just shy of two years after another police captain, Jeff Butler, recommended to Police Chief Eliot Isaac in a June 2017 memo that preparations be made to eliminate cash details in 2018.
The policy states: “In the case of extension of police service employment, the employer hires not the individual but the uniform, badge, gun, and authority of the officer. This activity must remain closely regulated. All rules, regulations, policies, procedures, and directives applicable to officers in an on-duty status also apply to officers engaged in extension of police service outside employment.”