MIAMI – Three Miami police officers appeared in federal court Wednesday shackled by their hands and feet.
Schonton Harris, Kelvin Harris and James Archibald are charged with conspiring to possess cocaine with the intent to distribute and carrying a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime.
Many of their relatives were also inside the courtroom as the charging document was read in its entirety.
According to a criminal affidavit, Schonton Harris, a 20-year veteran of the police force, agreed to accept cash payments in exchange for protecting the activities of drug traffickers and money launderers. The affidavit said she recruited Kelvin Harris and Archibald to participate in the scheme.
"Instead of ridding our streets of drugs, which are ravaging our communities, these officers were willing to profit from money laundering and drug trafficking enterprises," said Ariana Fajardo Orshan, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida.
The FBI said Schonton Harris was paid a total of $17,000, while Kelvin Harris earned $10,000 and Archibald made $6,500.
Federal agents began investigating the three officers after Miami Police Chief Jorge Colina received a citizen complaint.
Agents said the people the officers thought were drug dealers were actually undercover agents or cooperating witnesses. In one instance, investigators said, Schonton Harris was paid $1,500 for providing an undercover FBI agent a Miami police uniform and badge that would be used by a hit man.
Judge Patrick Smith ordered Schonton Harris to remain in custody at least until another hearing on Friday.
Kelvin Harris was given a $200,000, 10 percent surety bond with special conditions pending a Nebbia hearing.
If he posts bail, he must remain in home confinement; surrender all passports and travel documents; stay away from airports, bus stations and seaports; be under electronic monitoring and must surrender all firearms and his concealed weapons permit.
His attorney, Jonathan Schwartz, spoke after the hearing and said he believes there's very little evidence incriminating his client.
"Each one of the defendants in this case has different degrees of culpability," Schwartz said.
According to Schwartz, Kelvin Harris has had a stellar 27 years on the force and has children, two of whom are also on the force, and is a grandfather of seven.
Archibald, meanwhile, was given a $200,000, 10 percent surety bond with special conditions pending a Nebbia hearing.
He is under the same conditions as Kelvin Harris if he posts bail.
Both Nebbia hearings are scheduled for Monday.
The defendants' family members declined to speak with Local 10 News.