Former Miami police officer Schonton Harris will now find herself serving more than 15 years in prison for orchestrating a protection racket of drug dealers in the city.
The Miami Herald details Harris, 53, was arrested in October, along with other officers she recruited, Kelvin Harris and James Archibald, for accepting $17,000 for using her badge and firearm to complete criminal activities. Overall, the trio was believed to have collected $33,500 in a six-month time frame by distributing opioids and cocaine, while also protecting local drug dealers.
In addition to those crimes, undercover federal agents purchased a police uniform and a badge, which Harris was under the belief was to be used by a hitman in a drug cartel.
Harris was also recorded stating she would shoot someone suspicious, admitted to using and distributing drugs, recruiting her two partners and faking a drug test. A witness to the crimes of the Miami Cop also detailed Harris was protecting a courier who would collect drug money from pharmacy and clinics who would illegally distribute opioids.
Harris was represented in court by Gennaro Cariglio Jr., who aimed to get her a lighter sentence for her crimes, citing a need to pay the bills and a troubled life that included sexual abuse and rape as a teen that resulted in pregnancy.
“Unfortunately, an emotionally difficult and costly divorce from her abusive spouse in 2017 caused her to feel that her back was against the wall due to those financial issues,” Cariglio Jr. said to the court.
Cariglio also attempted to leverage Biscayne Park Police Chief Raimundo Atesiano‘s sentence of three-years for falsely arresting and framing black men to reduce the sentence of his client.
Harris is set to serve 15 1/2 years with three years of supervised release. Harris and Archibald are charged with alleged conspiracy to possess and distribute cocaine but have yet to go to trial.