Former District of Columbia police officer pleads guilty to money laundering charges

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Jared Weinberg was a lifeguard earning $6,500 a year in 2009 and 2010, but was renting an apartment and garage that cost $1,795 a month, according to an affidavit filed in federal court.

Those hard-to-reconcile numbers constituted just one of the red flags noted by IRS criminal investigators as they probed the finances of Damon L. Collins, a friend and frequent financial benefactor to Mr. Weinberg. On Thursday, Mr. Weinberg, 28, of Elkridge, Md., pleaded guilty to money laundering, in a case that prosecutors claimed was tied to one of the region's biggest cocaine rings.

Mr. Weinberg became a District of Columbia police officer in February 2012 and was at roll call at the time of his May arrest. The D.C. police department would not say whether he was fired or quit.

The affidavit indicated that Mr. Weinberg lived with Mr. Collins in the San Francisco area in early 2009. Then Mr. Weinberg returned to his home in the Columbia, Md., area, and rented the Elkridge apartment while working as a lifeguard at a fitness club.

An IRS investigation found that cash deposits in the approximate amount of the rent were regularly made to Mr. Weinberg's bank account. The deposits were made at branches in cities in which Mr. Collins was then residing or traveling.

Email messages between Mr. Weinberg's parents referred to rent-free accommodations and tension between the young man and a person named Damon, according to the affidavit.

Mr. Collins often used the apartment to conduct cocaine deals, according to assistant U.S. attorney Ross Lenhardt. Mr. Weinberg sometimes helped count drug money. The former officer admitted to laundering $14,900 -- the total paid in apartment rent.

Mr. Weinberg agreed with Mr. Lenhardt's summary of his involvement.

Mr. Lenhardt said Mr. Weinberg has no prior criminal history and could face 10 to 16 months in prison under federal sentencing guidelines. He was released without bond until sentencing, set for Dec. 13 before U.S. District Judge David S. Cercone in Pittsburgh.

Mr. Collins has pleaded not guilty to cocaine trafficking charges, and faces a Sept. 30 trial. He is accused of being a supplier to the cocaine ring that investigators said was led by Robert R. Spence of Coraopolis. Mr. Spence, 38, has pleaded not guilty and is not yet scheduled for trial.

Mr. Lenhardt said the ring brought an estimated 2,000 kilograms of cocaine into the region over 10 years, describing it as enough "for every current man, woman and child resident of Pennsylvania to have their own $20 rock of crack."

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Rich Lord:, 412-263-1542 or Twitter @richelord.


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