Reporting Mark Abrams
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By Mark Abrams
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A Philadelphia police officer has been charged with bribery and extortion after allegedly taking $5,000 from a suspect to make a gun charge vanish.
Officer Jonathan Lazarde, a five-year veteran of the force who was assigned to the 35th District in North Philadelphia, turned himself in Thursday morning to the police department’s Internal Affairs unit.
Investigators say Lazarde, 27, attempted in April to extort money from a suspect whom he had arrested in connection with a firearms charge.
They say Lazarde promised the suspect that, in exchange for a cash payment to the officer, he wouldn’t show up for court and the defendant would be acquitted.
Internal affairs investigators say they were tipped to the officer’s conduct and contacted the suspect, who agreed to cooperate.
According to authorities, police set up a surveillance and gave the suspect — whom Lazarde had pressured for the bribe — $5,000 in marked cash to hand over to the officer.
Investigators put Lazarde under electronic surveillance, monitored the officer’s communications including cell phone and texts, and captured the exchange of cash.
Afterwards, police stopped Lazarde and recovered the marked cash. He resigned from the department April 21st after being informed of the probe.