WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - An internal investigation into the conduct of undercover police officers in the Wilmington Police Department started in December last year and was open until the end of February, according to a spokesperson with the department.
A news release last week stated officers acted outside of acceptable standards for the use of alcohol on an undercover prostitution and drug sting, but did not break any laws.
According to records released to WECT.com by the city, three officers who were assigned to the Special Operations Unit have been demoted or suspended during this time period. The Vice & Narcotics unit, which ran this particular sting, is part of the Special Operations Unit. However, the WPD would not confirm if those personnel moves were related to the investigation.
City records show that Will Richards, JP Fitzgerald, and Andy Lazzaro were all assigned to Special Operations during the time of the undercover sting February of 2012. Again, the WPD will not confirm if those officers took part in the operation in question.
On February 13th of this year, Sgt. Richards was suspended for one week for policy violations, although the WPD would not elaborate on which policy or polices he violated. On the same day, Sgt. Fitzgerald was demoted from Sergeant to Corporal and transferred. Fitzgerald has since turned in his letter of resignation, which will become effective this Friday.
Corporal Lazzaro was demoted from Corporal to Officer on February 26th, one day before the WPD released the original information concerning the investigation.
The sting resulted in three women being cited for prostitution, although court records only show records of one ever being in court. When the WPD released the citations for the three woman, two had the word "void" written over the citations.
"Very generally speaking, it was in the interest of justice to do so," WPD Spokesperson Lucy Crockett said via e-mail. No further explanation was given.
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