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Ex-Cop Pleads Guilty To Bribery

By David Howell

OXFORD – A former Water Valley police office has pleaded guilty to federal charges  including extorting a $5,000 bribe money from a drug dealer trafficking narcotics from Texas to Water Valley.
    John Hernandez pled guilty, nolo contender,  to three counts outlined in a bill of information in U.S. District Court last Thursday. The  case that dates back to 2011 when he worked as a police officer.  
    The charges include Interference with Commerce by Threat or Violence, Money Laundering-Inter-state Commerce, and Obstruction of Proceeding Before Departments/Agen-cies.
    He remains free on a $10,000 bond awaiting sentencing. A date has not been set for the sentencing hearing.
    The first two counts carry a maximum of 20 years of imprisonment each. The third count carries a maximum five years imprisonment.
Description Of The Charges
    According to court documents, the first count occurred from October, 2011, until on or about January, 2012, when Hernandez extorted $5,000 from a drug trafficker “engaged in trafficking between Texas and Water Valley under color of official right, that is, in exchange for the performance and non-performance of official police acts.”
    The second count occurred in November, 2011, and December, 2011, in which Hernandez “did knowingly conduct and attempt to conduct a financial transaction affecting interstate commerce, to-wit: he directed another individual to receive money, which involved the proceeds of a specified unlawful activity, that is bribery money…” court documents reveal.
    In the third count, defined as beginning on or around February, 2013, until March 27, 2013, Hernandez, by means of bribery, knowingly obstructed an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration and Federal Grand Jury when he “among other things, endeavored to receive $5,000 in return for providing law enforcement information to an individual” who was target of an investigation by the DEA and Federal Grand jury.
    A plea supplement in the case remains sealed.
    Hernandez signed a waiver of indictment, allowing the federal court system to proceed without indictments from a federal grand jury, instead acting on a bill of information.
Combat Veteran, Injured Officer
    The date of the extortion charge comes around the same time Hernandez was out on medical leave after accidentally shooting himself in the leg while investigating a break-in at Davidson Elementary School. The injury occurred in November, 2011.     
    Hernandez also served two combat tours in Iraq as a member of the Mississippi Army National Guard’s 155th Brigade Combat Team. He left the Water Valley police department in early 2012 after six years.

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