Cop Caught in Weed Growing Operation Awarded $200,000 by Department

May 11, 2015   |   Carey Wedler

Carey Wedler
May 11, 2015

(ANTIMEDIA) Buffalo, NY — Last week, a former Buffalo police officer was awarded nearly $200,000 after being fired for running a cannabis grow operation. You read that correctly.

Jorge L. Melendez was terminated in 2012 after a year-long investigation found that he was supervising a grow operation with over 100 plants. Last August, he plead guilty in a U.S. district court and is currently serving four years in prison for his violations (the minimum sentence is 5-40 years).

It is worth noting that before Melendez worked for the Buffalo Police, he was a drug informant for the FBI. He was caught selling drugs, but the FBI did not have enough evidence to convict him. Instead, they allowed him to work as an informant. The Buffalo Police Department was unaware of his history when they hired him.

In spite of his admission of guilt over the marijuana plants, Melendez was awarded $195,507.24 in back pay because of a technicality in the way he was fired. The Buffalo branch of the powerful police union, the Police Benevolent Association, came to his aid because he was terminated without a disciplinary hearing. As such, an arbitrator ordered the City of Buffalo to pay the incarcerated man for time he never worked. The city plans to appeal the decision.

On its face, this story seems commonplace. Police officers are caught selling drugs all the time. They are often prosecuted and sentenced to prison (this seems to happen more often than convictions for killing innocent people). Rather, what is unique about this case is twofold:

First, in spite of the fact that Melendez was imprisoned for participating in the drug trade, his sentence was less than the federal minimum and far more lenient than others who have sold less.

Because of mandatory minimum sentencing requirements, individuals — often non-violent — have been sentenced to life in prison for selling an infinitesimal fraction of what Melendez was accused of cultivating. This case highlights the persistent reality that there is one set of laws for the people and another for those who rule over them.

This, however, is still relatively old news. Cops are routinely let off the hook for egregious crimes while individuals lives are destroyed for non-violent offenses.

What is more impressive about Melendez’s story is the dedication the police union showed to his case. The Police Benevolent Association is known for defending officers—no matter what they do. The union has stood by officers accused of murder and preaches blind subservience to police at the national level.

The union’s willingness to defend Melendez exposes a clear lack of moral foundation. For all of the union’s grandstanding about law and order, the PBA proved itself more concerned with keeping tabs on department policy and “contracts” than with upholding the nation’s laws—which is supposedly the entire point of having police and why people support them. The Buffalo PBA did acknowledge Melendez’s “wrong-doing,” saying:

“We don’t want this kind of person on the job; neither does the mayor nor the commissioner. Criminals and drug dealers cast a stain upon all the good police officers.”

The Buffalo PBA argued that they were defending Melendez to protect his contract and avoid a costly lawsuit later. Nevertheless, the PBA’s apparent respect for accountability is difficult to take seriously when its various branches consistently demonstrate a lack of regard for keeping officers accountable.

Meanwhile, though non-violent individuals rot in jail for decades, Melendez will be out in 2018—and he will have a stack of money waiting for him upon release.

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Author: Carey Wedler

Carey Wedler joined Anti-Media as an independent journalist in September of 2014. Her topics of interest include the police and warfare states, the Drug War, the relevance of history to current problems and solutions, and positive developments that drive humanity forward. She currently resides in Los Angeles, California, where she was born and raised.

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  1. All of this is not about race. Not about who is killed more. Whites or Blacks. It is about the fn police killing people and getting a way with it, because they will just investigate them selves. In till they are hold responsibility for there own actions. Nothing will ever change. Because they know, with a badge they can do what ever the hell they want to and get a way with it.
    In till tax payers stop forking over money (taxes) to pay off these dam law suits. It will go on and on. There are a few things that can be done to help with this.

    1) Cops need to stop being about revenue for the dam politician, courts, towns, cities and so on and be about the people.

    2) Make police have there own insurance policies. Like doctors and so on. So tax payers are off the hook for it. You would see things change then. That and stop shooting 1st and saying lies after to cover it up. Make the cops responsible….

    3) Make police all have body cams. If said body cam is shut off or not working. Then said cop is fired on the spot for it. Again Make the cops responsible……..

    4) A lot more training on how to deal with the old, disabled, medical, and so on. Learn to spot someone in trouble and have the patience, respect, tolerance, restraint, self-restraint to deal with said problem to troubles…

    5) Have a independent company and NOT THEM SELF do the investigation when something does go wrong. If someone gets shoot or if someone says they used to much force.

    6) Police should also only be allowed to use police dogs to sniff out drugs not to attack and maul people who have already given up or may just be standing, setting there doing nothing. Not doing what you are told is not should not be enough to get you mauled.

    These are a few of the things that would turn things around with police. Things need to turn around or you will see more and more people react either in the right or wrong ways to police.

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  2. Are you talking about the same article? you have some very interesting points and im sure somebody who matters will read them, and take action. Hoorah for democracy!

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  3. I was about 2 say dis exact same thing too! Only thing dat should change any1's mind on it would b "if police unions would stop standing up for and defending corrupt cops!" Wishful thinking on my part… and I think I might b speakin' 4 a few choice others as well.

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  4. I guess I don't understand the meaning of the word "mandatory" as in MANDATORY minimum sentence.

    Pass a law banning public employees' unions and you won't have this problem. You're supposed to be a Public Servant, right?

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  5. ishould be a cop and grow mad amounts of pot you know he must have been the most friendly and honest cop on the force if he was smoking weed

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  6. The city better win!!! He should'nt have had the job in the first place… He was an officer of the law…. Once arrested, they should lose all privileges they have acquired… Unless found innocent.. Which, clearly he is not. F that shit

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  7. All unions should be abolished… Every state has a dept of labor that has rules and regulations.

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