Thursday, February 28, 2002

City cops, ATF work to get federal drug and gun charges

By Jane Prendergast
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Closer cooperation between the Cincinnati Police Department and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms has led to what police hope is the first of more federal prosecutions of city suspects.

        After Cincinnati's violent summer last year, the two agencies said they would work harder to see if more offenders could be prosecuted through the federal system, which can offer more prison time.

        Their first: Shannon Ford, 30, of Colerain Township, who has a history of drug and weapons convictions.

        Now, Mr. Ford faces three new federal indictments on charges of having a gun and dealing crack Jan. 16 in Walnut Hills. Police say he was arrested with more than 49 grams of the drug. Officers said they found a .38-caliber revolver in the back seat of the cruiser where he sat.

        Mr. Ford's drug conviction history and the fact that he's on parole for similar offenses made his case fit the federal system, said Sgt. Jeff Hunt of Cincinnati's special investigations unit.

        Now, they just have to find him. Because of a miscommunication between police and Mr. Ford's parole officer, Mr. Ford posted bond and has not been found.

        “He's somebody we'd really like to get off the streets,” said Capt. Vince Demasi, commander of the department's criminal investigations section. “And we're optimistic that they're going to be taking more cases.”

        Sgt. Hunt said Cincinnati has three or four more cases ready for presentation to a federal grand jury, and about six other still being reviewed. That's more already this year, Capt. Demasi said, than federal authorities reviewed in all of 2001.


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