Saturday, July 21, 2012

Daren Durrett Convicted

The conspiracy charge for which Durrett was convicted carries a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. Each bribery charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.00. In determining the actual sentence, the Court will consider the United States Sentencing Guidelines, which are not binding but provide appropriate sentencing ranges for most offenders.

Sentencing for Durrett has been set for September 27, 2012, at 9:30 a.m. before United States District Judge William S. Duffey, Jr.
By R. Robin McDonald

Daily Report

July 19, 2012

A DeKalb County police lieutenant accused of acting as a private enforcer for the owner of check-cashing businesses and service stations across metro Atlanta is on trial this week in federal court.

In exchange for thousands of dollars in cash, DeKalb Lt. Willie Daren Durrett used his police authority to solve problems for businessman Amin Budhwani, federal prosecutors said in opening statements Tuesday.

Prosecutors alleged Durrett participated in a scheme to frighten a business partner with whom Budhwani had fallen out to leave the country, intimidated another local businessman for Budhwani's financial benefit and lied to Budhwani's mistress in order to make her leave him, federal prosecutors said Tuesday.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Bly told the jury that Durrett also served as a liaison between Budhwani and then-DeKalb Deputy Police Chief Donald Frank, whom Budhwani also bribed. Frank headed the security detail of then-DeKalb CEO Vernon Jones and also led the De­Kalb Police Department's homeland security office — a position he used on Budhwani's behalf in return for cash, gambling trips and payments on his car loan, Bly said.

Two years ago, Budhwani pleaded guilty to paying bribes to Frank. Last year, Frank pleaded guilty to a federal criminal information that accused him of soliciting and accepting bribes from Budhwani.

On Tuesday, Durrett's lawyer, Bruce Harvey, told the jury that federal prosecutors have based their case on a string of lies that Budhwani, an Indian citizen who spent years living illegally in the U.S., told in order to mitigate his own offenses as a shakedown artist. Harvey said that Durrett, who worked as a DeKalb police officer for 23 years, chose to go to trial because he is not guilty of the offenses with which he is charged.

Bly told the jury the case against Durrett is built on bribery by a businessman "who had his own private police force." Whenever Budhwani wanted to use intimidation to resolve a personal or business problem, "He didn't call 911. ... He called Willie Daren Durrett direct."

And, after Durrett arranged an introduction to Frank, Budhwani called on the deputy chief as well, Bly said.

What Budhwani paid Durrett and Frank to do, Bly told the jury, "was not what police officers do."

Durrett is charged with participating in a conspiracy with Frank to accept bribes from Budhwani and with three counts of accepting bribes.

According to Bly, Budhwani bribed Durrett to intimidate the owner of Peach State Pallet Co. into reimbursing Budhwani for thousands of dollars in forged Peach State checks that employees at one of Budhwani's stores unwittingly had cashed. After Peach State Pallet's bank rejected the bad checks, Budhwani insisted that owner Stephen Strauss reimburse him for his losses, Bly said. When Strauss refused, Budhwani called Durrett, who, in turn, called Strauss and told him to "make good" on the checks or he would open a police investigation of Strauss, Bly said.

Under pressure from Durrett, Strauss capitulated, He agreed to pay Budhwani $10,000 to $15,0000 — about half of Budhwani's losses — and directed all Peach State Pallet employees to cash their paychecks at Budhwani's stores, Bly said.

Budhwani took a commission for each cashed check, Bly said, and the businessman "paid Durrett to get more money" for himself.

Bly said that Budhwani also turned to Durrett when he decided to end his affair with a Brazilian woman on whom he had spent lavish and increasingly untenable sums of money. Bly said that Durrett arranged to introduce Budhwani to Frank, so Frank could assist in a ruse to persuade Budhwani's mistress that she should drop Budhwani because he was the subject of a Homeland Security investigation. Budhwani treated both officers to dinner and then to drinks and lap dances at the Pink Pony, a DeKalb County strip club, before Frank agreed to help, Budhwani testified on Wednesday.

Frank — with Budhwani listening on a speaker phone — subsequently called Budhwani's mistress, Debora Johnston, and Johnston's husband, David — warning them both to steer clear of Budhwani unless they wanted to become embroiled in the investigation, Bly said. The businessman said he then slipped $3,000 in cash in Frank's pocket as he was leaving. Frank, he said, accepted the cash without objecting.

Budhwani told the jury Wednesday that after he paid Frank, Durrett called him looking for a payoff. Durrett, he testified, asked him, "How do you like our services?" and suggested that resolving Budhwani's problems with his mistress would save the businessman $20,000 to $30,000 a month in expenses.

Budhwani said that when Durrett called him a second time and "started pressing me hard" about being paid, he paid the officer $5,000.

Budhwani enlisted the services of Frank and Durrett a third time after he had a falling-out with his business partner in an Atlanta gas station. The three men then concocted a scheme to convince Budhwani's business partner, Imran Chaudhry, a Pakistani national, that he was being investigated by Homeland Security as a likely terrorist, Bly said.

Chaudhry, he added, was not a terrorist.

As part of the plot to frighten Chaudhry into returning to Pakistan, Frank stopped Chaudhry while he was driving and began questioning him, Bly said. Frightened, Chaudhry decided to leave the United States, Bly said, but feared he would be stopped at the airport as he was attempting to board a flight to Pakistan.

Budhwani then called Durrett, who used his authority as a DeKalb police lieutenant to perpetuate the ruse by escorting Chaudhry through airport security, Bly told the jury. The night before Chaudhry's flight, he met Budhwani and Durrett at the Pink Pony to finalize the plan. While there, Bly told the jury that Chaudhry witnessed Budhwani giving Durrett an unspecified amount of cash in what Bly described as compensation for his agreement to escort Chaudhry through airport security.

Bly warned the jury that Frank's statements and Budhwani's statements about bribes that Budhwani paid have not always been consistent, including whether or not Frank accepted any cash payments from Budhwani.

Harvey, Durrett's lawyer, said that the case against Durrett rests on Budhwani's credibility. Budhwani, he said, is "a puppeteer" who manipulates others for his own benefit. "He lies consistently, and his word cannot be trusted."

Harvey said that when Budhwani sought help from Durrett in breaking up with his mistress, Durrett referred him to Frank, and it was Frank — not Durrett — that Harvey said Budhwani subsequently befriended. Any allegations that Durrett accepted bribes from Budhwani, Harvey said, are "lies."

Harvey acknowledged that Budhwani had tried to bribe Frank. But Frank, he said, refused to accept the cash that Budhwani said he paid him. And although he said that Budhwani had paid for Frank's gambling trips and contributed $10,000 to help pay for Frank's mother's funeral, he did so because the two men had become friends. When Budhwani went to Frank about his business partner, Harvey suggested that it was Budhwani, not Frank, who had labeled Chaudhry as a likely terrorist. Budhwani, the defense attorney said, told Frank that Chaudhry was in the country illegally and falsely insisted he "is giving money to terrorists."

Harvey added, "Mr. Budhwani lies to Mr. Frank. He lies to the United States. He lies every time he has the opportunity to help himself. … Whenever he seeks a chance to manipulate someone, he takes it."

The case is before Judge William Duffey Jr.


Anonymous said...

So was he convicted?

Anonymous said...

Hey Blog Master its obvious you have access to some good information. We would love to see the Clayton County report on Kaulbach. That's a part of being fair and balanced.

Anonymous said...

Convicted on Friday....who's next?

Anonymous said...

Yeah Brookhaven is a bad idea. Is there anyone DeKalb can't turn into a perpofile?

Anonymous said...

That missing 90 million dollars sure would come in handy right about now. Wonder what ever happened to that??

Anonymous said...

Wow that was fast!

Anonymous said...

All I have to say is HA!!!! Ha!!! Ha!!!! It wasn't more than a few day ago that some ghetto piece of trash that can't speak in proper English stuck up for Durrett on this forum talking about how he was still walking the street and was a good guy! Well look at what we have here!!! Go suck on it, idiot!! I'm sick and tired of these crooked ass pieces of shit bringing this department down!! F- you, Durrett!!

Anonymous said...

Dont Rush to Judge!!!!

Anonymous said...

GUILTY!!!! That's what you get; karma is a b-tch and it just bit you on the as-!! Just know that I have been very successful in my career since I last saw you and here you are on the brink of going to prison. Here is a tip....don't drop the soap motherf-cker.....PEACE!!! Hahahahaahahaha....

Anonymous said...

I never thought I'd see my old PD That I was so proud of being associated with,sink this low.

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:39 and 1:46; I understand your sentiments and feel about the same, without the expletives.
I was very upfront with my fellow employees about my views on employee corruption, fraud and crime. We were in a position of dealing with some high priced contracts and on several occasions I was made offers to influence a purchase or contract. This always got a really nasty and negative responses from myself (frankly I was fracken' offended that anyone would think I was succeptable to a bribe) and to my knowledge, my team always broke off negotiations when we got such offers.
DKPD command and the officers and staff need to start talking about this type of stuff among your selves. You know whats has happened and still most likey occuring.
Durret was an idiot and easy to catch along with Franks, but believe me, there are a lot more smarter employees who are a lot hard to spot and convict.
I would advise talking this issue up among yourselves and keep an eye on whats going about you, not with just citizens public safety but what your fellow officers and command staff are doing. We are seeing way too much of this crap and its going to take some internal watchfulness by the employees to throw these guys and gals out of the county and into prison.
One last word of advice, and I know I am preaching to the choir on this.
We did not join the county to get rich. We came to serve and found out we got a really nice pension until about five years ago. If you committ fraud or corrupt acts you will eventually get caught. Even the smartest, brightest employees can get away with this for years but eventually something unexpected happens, or they go on vacation and a fellow employees accidentally finds the "smoking gun" or whatnot. The odds are you will eventually get caught and serve time. You will also lose your fracken' pension. To place some perspective my pension is probably going to pay out 500-750 grand before I bite the dust. Do the math and make up ypur own minds. Is it fracken worth it?

Anonymous said...

So did anyone miss this post,

Hey Blog Master its obvious you have access to some good information. We would love to see the Clayton County report on Kaulbach. That's a part of being fair and balanced.

Anonymous said...

its obvious the blog master is trying to get the attention off the capt that was recently arrested, who cares about Durrett anymore.

Anonymous said...

We need to open up on this case and others. So far the US Attorney is the only one who has commented. The Durrett case came from the Frank's case. The DKPD detectives who worked and developed the Frank's case should be commended. They did an excellent job. It has to be nerve wrecking to investigate your boss but they did it as professionals and well enough to get the US Attorney interested in prosecuting the case. And when the information developed on Durrett they again rose to the challenge and were able to do an excellent job in a tough spot.

Anonymous said...

Soap on a rope

Anonymous said...

Well I see plenty of haters who could not wait to see how this went down. Well here's you a tip don't get caught with the marry man you doing.... And sweep at your on door, you hating cause he was not wanting to be with you while you were hanging on him... HAHAHAHHAHA

Anonymous said...

Frank and Durrett are sleazy crooked CONVICTED FELONS. Hope thy enjoy there time in prison. When they get out they can take up selling used cars on memorial drive.
hasta lavista stupid greedy corrupt bitches.

Anonymous said...

5:45, could you translate that ghetto crap into English a normal person can understand?