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How Far is Too Far - update from 2008

Posted on January 5, 2010 at 1:10 PM

Some of you might remember my previous blog: about the potentially tumultuous end of the 19-year career of an Ohio DEA agent, Lee Lucas. There were actually quite a few more than only 15 people who were put into prison on account of his witness lying under oath. Most of the innocent took guilty pleas!

One thing I commonly am asked is why a guilty man would take a plea. Well, you’ve got at least 13 in this case alone. These accused watched how the first trial (that of Geneva France) unfolded and then rolled over, taking a plea to avoid the scrutiny of a trial, the ensuing media circus, and perhaps a stiffer sentence, among other things. Most likely they were also pressured by their own lawyers who knew that these men’s cases stemmed from France’s. The woman was found guilty and it would be used to convict the other men at their subsequent trials.

I promised an update and well, the DEA agent is finally headed to trial January 6, 2010, unless in an ironic twist of fate he takes a plea himself. To date, after being indicted on a diversity of charges of 18 counts including perjury, making false statements in the internal DEA reports, violating three people’s civil rights (shame the rest of these victims’ rights didn’t qualify, just a side-bar note here), obstruction of justice, etc. [1, 2].

Geneva France was convicted of dealing drugs and spent 16 months in prison. She had three young girls. And imagine how much family was involved in the 17 other cases wrongly convicted.

During his indictment, Lee Lucas appeared relaxed and thanked his supporters. “An uniformed Cleveland Police officer is quoted stating: ‘THAT’S WHAT REAL POLICEMEN DO; THEY STAND UP FOR EACH OTHER’” [1].

Meanwhile, prosecutors are calling him “a ‘loose cannon’ with sloppy investigative techniques” [2] Yet, these same prosecutors “(stress) that he was credible, and they believed what he told them” [2].

This is not the first time Lucas has had problems with his informants, however. In Florida, a Miami businessman spent $356,000 trying to defend himself 15 years ago and in September 2008 a judge was to decide how much he ought to be reimbursed [3]! Under federal rules, a person can seek damages if the government has “acted in bad faith”, such as recovering the cost of attorney fees [3]. The Florida attorneys point out, “’The government, rather than heed (the judge’s) warnings regarding Agent Lucas, instead allowed him to go off to Ohio to imprison other innocents’” [3].


[1] Turner, K. (2009, May 13). DEA Agent Lee Lucas indicted on perjury, civil rights charges; pleads not guilty. Cleveland Plain Dealer. Metro Section

[2] Caniglia, J. (2009, December 27). DEA agent Lee Lucas going to trial on charges he lied in testimony. Cleveland Plain Dealer. Metro Section.

[3] Merritt, J. (2008, September 28). A DEA Agent and His Rogue Informant to Cost Taxpayers $356k. Message posted to:

Categories: Problems in Justice System

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