History will teach that the Donald Trump presidency was the most corrupt of the nation’s first 45 presidencies. Fourteen months into Trump’s presidency, at least 48 appointed government officials have resigned or been fired under suspicious circumstances. Trump assembled one of the wealthiest cabinets in the nation’s history, and each member has in one way or another ripped off taxpayers for personal benefit. President Trump, his sons, his daughter, his son-in-law, and his wife have all used the Trump presidency for personal or family financial gain. 44 percent of the people in this country now believe that the Office of the Presidency is the most corrupt of all official offices in Washington, D.C.
Corruption at the State, Local Level
Corruption is endemic at every level of official power in this nation. Two of America’s United States, Louisiana and Mississippi, are the butt of late night jokes concerning political corruption. The illustrious State of Texas earned itself a spot on the top 15 most corrupt states in America. The Lone Star State is notorious for its ability to conceal its official corruption.
People in America tend to accept corruption as an integral component of the “cost of doing business” in this country. Corruption exists wherever people are in positions of power or trust and money can be made. At the local level, even small shakedowns by local officials and police are endemic.
Police Corruption, Extortion
That’s what happened to M&W Towing in Lawrence, Massachusetts in 2011. The business was owned by Wilson Calixto who was a friend of a local police officer named Pedro Lopez-Cotto (“Lopez”). Lopez was also friendly with two of Calixto’s employees—a tow truck driver named Carlos Ortiz and a secretary named Myra Colon.
In December 2010, Lopez approached Ortiz about a Suzuki Reno that had apparently been abandoned on the M&W lot. The company was asking $4,000 for the vehicle. Lopez told Ortiz that he would give him $1000 in cash for the vehicle and would refer 35 vehicles to M&W for towing during one of its city towing contract weeks with the police department.
In a February 27, 2018 decision, the First Circuit Court of Appeals reported that Ortiz took Lopez’s proposition to Calixto, who made some quick calculations about the 35 tows and realized their value far exceeded the price he was asking for the Suzuki. He also calculated the cost of rejecting Lopez’s proposition—the fact that the police officer could “shut off” M&W from any tows during its police contract week. Lopez had conveniently told Calixto that after another towing company refused to give him a discount, the police officer stopped sending tows to the company.
Calixto accepted Lopez’s proposition, and as a result, M&W received more towing orders during December 2010 and January 2011than it had the previous year.
FBI Notified of Shakedowns
Apparently the FBI received information about Lopez’s shakedowns of local towing companies.
In 2011, agents visited M&W towing to ask Calixto about a $4,000 snow plow Lopez had purchased from a third party earlier that year. A $4,000 check had been signed by Calixto and drawn from M&W’s account. Calixto made a critical mistake. He lied to the agents, telling them that Lopez had never reimbursed him for the check.
As soon as the FBI left the premises, Calixto contacted Lopez to tell him about the agents’ visit. The news worried Lopez who told Calixto that the cop’s purchase of the plow was unethical that could get him suspended from the force, or, worse yet, sent off to jail.
Ms. Colon also made a critical mistake by injecting herself into the developing criminal scheme. The First Circuit said the secretary “convinced Calixto that he should change his story to help Lopez. She suggested that Calixto tell the FBI that Lopez had reimbursed M & W, but he had forgotten because he was drunk at the time of the FBI agents’ visit. To support this story, Colon created a fake receipt showing that Lopez had reimbursed M & W for the $4,000 in February 2011. When the FBI visited M & W again, both Colon and Calixto told the agents that Lopez had paid for the snow plow. About the same time, Lopez gave the FBI the fake receipt and told the FBI he had reimbursed M & W for the plow.”
False Statements Unravel
It didn’t take long for the criminal conspiracy to unravel.
With minimal pressure from the FBI and federal prosecutors, Colon, Calixto and Ortiz all agreed to cooperate with the FBI against Lopez in exchange for immunity. Their cooperation led to Lopez’s indictment for making a false statement to a federal agent under 18 U.S.C. , federal program bribery in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 666(a)(1)(B), and obstruction of justice in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1512(c)(2).
A jury subsequently found Lopez guilty on all three counts and a U.S. District Court judge sentenced him to 18 months in prison followed three years of supervised release and ordered him to pay a fine of $10,000. The First Circuit upheld both the sentence and the fine.
Dirty Cops Engaged in Dirty Business
The Lopez brand of corruption is found in virtually every police department in the country—dirty cops exchanging their official power for money, sex, drugs, and a host of other illicit benefits.
These same kinds of corruption schemes infect the U.S. Congress and the current White House, just on a much larger scale.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller was appointed to investigate the President of the United States, his 2016 presidential campaign, and criminal activity now connected to the White House. Indictments have been issued by his office, guilty pleas entered, and plea agreements reached between the defendants and the Special Counsel. An unknown slew of other people have been immunized by the Special Counsel to tell what they know about illegal conclusion, public corruption, and criminal conspiracy involving the President, his family, his associates, and his organization.
At the end of the day, some very powerful and prominent individuals—perhaps the president himself—will end up indicted just like the dirty cop Lopez and will join him in the law library of a federal penal facility.