Feds indict former Savannah police chief

Thursday, June 5, 2014 2:40 PM
Last updated 6:47 PM
  • Follow Crime & courts

SAVANNAH, Ga. -- Former Savannah-Chatham Police Chief Willie Lovett pleaded not guilty Thursday to a seven-count federal indictment charging him with commercial gambling and extortion.

Lovett  Morris News Service
Morris News Service
Lovett


Lovett, 63, was granted a $30,000 unsecured bond.

U.S. Magistrate Judge G.R. Smith said the first count of commercial gambling accused Lovett of participating between Jan. 5, 2009, and May 8, 2013, while he was either a major or chief of police with the metro police department.

Three other individuals named in the indictment did not appear in court and were not identified.

The indictment also charges that between March 16, 2004, and Sept. 27, 2013, Lovett participated in a scheme to obstruct enforcement of state laws prohibiting gambling.

The remaining five charges accuse Lovett of extortion.

Lovett abruptly retired Sept. 27 after 40 years in the face of a sexual harassment complaint filed by a department officer in amove that triggered major shakeups in the department.

A subsequent investigation by Alexandria, Va.-based Manuel, Daniels, Burke International found in December that Lovett “withheld vital information from Internal Affairs ... and instructed Internal Affairs to prepare (an official document) with patently false and incorrect information.”

While no evidence of improper influence with the department’s Internal Affairs unit was found, investigators reported that handling of the internal affairs investigation “was inadequate and unprofessional” and ignored available evidence in the case of two officers under investigation in a 2010 drug trafficking scheme.

The report found that Sgt. Malik Khaalis repeatedly lied to his supervisors at the Chatham-Savannah Counter Narcotics Team, had unauthorized contact with Star Cpl. Willett Williams in a probe involving Williams’ brother and drug organization, and likely warned a drug suspect that his phone was being tapped.

The conduct came in the face of Chatham-Savannah Counter Narcotics Team- federal Drug Enforcement Agency probe of alleged police corruption investigation that surfaced during a probe of an alleged drug scheme operated by Williams’ brother, James Williams, who was then a correctional officer at Coastal State Correctional Institute in Garden City, and his drug organization.

City Manager Stephanie Cutter ordered the independent probe in October focusing on alleged misconduct by department officials and officers stemming from activity that surfaced from the 2010 probe. In announcing the probe, Cutter said Lovett was “linked in some way” with the investigation.

“A small handful of individuals have eroded the public’s trust in the police department, and that trust will not be restored until we fully investigate all claims against our law enforcement personnel and take appropriate action,” Cutter said in a press statement. “I have said from the beginning that we leave no stone unturned in this process. I ask the public for their patience as we continue to follow this investigation where it leads.”

Departmental problems surfaced in September when documents disclosed that police officials were told as early as mid-2010 that Khaalis, a veteran drug agent, and Williams, a 27-year police veteran, were the subjects of a major federal/local narcotics corruption investigation and that shortly afterward federal and county prosecutors refused to use either officer as a witness.

Neither Khaalis nor Williams were disciplined and each remained on active duty until Tolbert, who replaced Lovett on Sept. 27, placed both on administrative leave with pay on Oct. 3 pending the outcome of the review.

Both Khaalis and Williams have been fired from the force. The Chatham Count grand jury has indicted Khaalis on nine counts for making false statements and violating his oath as a police officer stemming from the 2010 probe,

He remains free on a $20,000 bond and has pleaded not guilty. His next scheduled court appearance is Aug. 4 for pre-trial motions.

Comments (5) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
corgimom
34079
Points
corgimom 06/05/14 - 03:02 pm
1
14
You know, there's lots of

You know, there's lots of people on here that criticize Obama because he supposedly doesn't enforce laws.

But then when people like this are indicted, they are curiously silent.

The former mayor of Charlotte (who is also black) just pled guilty yesterday to corruption charges and he's going to prison. I think cases like these are more important than laws like Defense of Marriage Act, which was unconstitutional to begin with and should've never been passed in the first place.

Little Old Lady
6284
Points
Little Old Lady 06/05/14 - 03:28 pm
8
0
Commit the crime, do the

Commit the crime, do the time. Black, White or whatever.

edcushman
7930
Points
edcushman 06/05/14 - 03:51 pm
0
0
"I think cases like these are
Unpublished

"I think cases like these are more important than laws like Defense of Marriage Act, which was unconstitutional to begin with and should've never been passed in the first place."
corgomom, so you do not agree with the law so it should not be enforced, right? It seems that you have a lot in common with the lying, racist communist thug in the WH and his lying racist AG.
"You know, there's lots of people on here that criticize Obama because he supposedly doesn't enforce laws.
But then when people like this are indicted, they are curiously silent."
The president breaking laws are a lot more important than a couple mayors. Your comment seems to be racist. Why should we pick these guys out? Because they are black? They are just a couple of democrats doing what democrats do, stealing and lying.

AFjoe
3774
Points
AFjoe 06/05/14 - 03:48 pm
7
2
Don't work that way

Little old lady...it don't work that way anymore. Just last week four black folk who were all in elected office (not in GA) were not prosecuted because of the color of their skin. Look at Jesse Jr. and see if his punishment fits the crime.

deestafford
28715
Points
deestafford 06/05/14 - 03:50 pm
6
0
And one wonders why people are moving out of Savannah...

And one wonders why people are moving out of Savannah limits to Effingham and Liberty counties and small towns like Pooler?

willie Lee
423
Points
willie Lee 06/05/14 - 06:37 pm
0
0
Where oh Where???
Unpublished

Where are all those singing the praises of law enforcement. This is just another nail in the right place which shows the corruption and dishonesty that is prevalent with cops all over this country.

rmwhitley
5547
Points
rmwhitley 06/05/14 - 07:06 pm
0
0
And one wonders
Unpublished

what the naacp's stance on this is. "another good black man being taken down by those racist whites". The time has come for the repeal of affirmative action, the civil rights act of 1964 and the voting rights act of 1965. And not a second too soon.

jmo
16730
Points
jmo 06/05/14 - 07:15 pm
4
0
Willie....

going down.

edcushman
7930
Points
edcushman 06/05/14 - 08:36 pm
1
0
"You know, there's lots of
Unpublished

"You know, there's lots of people on here that criticize Obama because he supposedly doesn't enforce laws.
But then when people like this are indicted, they are curiously silent."
corgimom, I sure you will be surprised but most of us do not criticize Obama because he is black.

jimmymac
42931
Points
jimmymac 06/06/14 - 09:04 am
0
0
THUGS
Unpublished

Looks like thugs have infested Savannah. Maybe this will send the roaches scurrying.

Back to Top

Search Augusta jobs