Strange New Twist in Scandal Involving Rogue Philadelphia PD Narcotics Unit

Earlier this year, I posted on a rogue Philadelphia narcotics unit headed up by Officer Jeffrey Cujdik that was shaking down immigrant bodegas across the city. (See updates here and here.) Cujdik's thugs would come into the stores armed with search warrants for selling otherwise innocuous items like small plastic bags that can also be used to package illegal drugs. They would then cut the cords to the stores' surveillance cameras and start helping themselves to cash registers and merchandise. Members of the unit have also been accused of sexually assaulting women during drug raids.

Philadelphia Daily News reporters Wendy Ruderman and Barbara Laker—who have done some amazing reporting on this story—then showed how lax oversight from prosecutors and police commanders and casual dismissal of citizen complaints allowed Cujdik to continue to operate well after his shakedown tactics should have had him booted off the force. He'd likely still be shaking down bodegas were it not for Ruderman and Laker (the two reporters were of course attacked by Cujdik's police union).

Now Ruderman and Laker report an incredible new twist involving Cujdik's brother Gregory. Unlike two of his brothers and his father, Gregory Cujdik isn't a Philadelphia PD police officer. In fact, he's a convicted drug dealer. The story begins last April.

IT WAS just after midnight. Brian Westberry and a woman friend sat frozen in his bedroom, hoping the persistent pounding on the front door of his Northeast Philly home would stop. It didn't.

Westberry, 24, slipped his licensed .38-caliber revolver into his pants pocket and crept downstairs to open the door.

There stood Gregory Cujdik, 32, who demanded to see "Jen," his girlfriend. Westberry told him "Jen" didn't want to see him, and repeatedly ordered Cujdik to leave. When Cujdik refused, Westberry threatened to call police.

" 'Do it. My family are cops,' " Cujdik said, according to Westberry...

Before Westberry could finish dialing 9-1-1 on his cell phone, Cujdik stepped through the doorway and punched him in the throat, Westberry said.

That's when Westberry pulled out his gun and Cujdik fled, Westberry told the Daily News.

Westberry never fired the gun. In fact, Westberry suffered the only injury when Cujdik staggered him with a punch. But rather than arrest Cujdik, a convicted drug dealer, authorities slapped Westberry with a slew of criminal charges, including felony aggravated assault, possession of an instrument of crime, terroristic threats, simple assault and recklessly endangering another person.

From there, Westberry's life got worse. Westberry believes Cudjik is behind a Nov. 14 arson of his house. Detectives didn't question Cujdik until after a Daily News reporter asked a police captain about the case earlier this month.

It gets worse. The detective who arrested Westberry is the wife of Jeffrey Cujdik's former partner. The two also co-own a dunk tank (!?) rental business. Westberry is a gun collector. The police seized all 40 of his guns, all of which were legal and licensed.

All charges against Westberry were finally dismissed in October. But Gregory Cujdik has yet to be charged, for either the assault or the arson. The investigating officer said he never got around to questioning Cujdik about the arson due to a backlog of other cases. Of course, that didn't seem to stop the department from going after Westberry. The investigating officer also indicated he thinks Westberry, who has no prior criminal record, may have intentionally set fire to his own home in order to frame Cujdik.

Incidentally, since the Daily News first broke the story about Jeffrey Cujdik's thuggish narcotics unit in March, none of the officers in the unit has been charged with a crime. A few have been taken off the street and lost their police powers, and there's now a federal investigation underway. But all of the officers from the unit are still collecting paychecks.

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  • Xeones||

    So yesterday's post about dudes getting their names cleared was just to lull us into a false sense of optimism, huh, Balko?

    Ow, my balls.

  • robc||

    The two reporters attacked by union link isnt working.

  • mr simple||

    Clearly the only solution is to shoot fire them all and start over.

  • Aaron Kinney||

    Start what over? Meet the new boss, same as the old boss? We wont get fooled again?

  • Ska||

    Mindblowing in both scope and magnitude. Even the dickface's brother knows that being related to cops makes you above the law. I'm going to stop typing and look for something to punch.

    FUCK

  • ||

    Incidentally, since the Daily News first broke the story about Jeffrey Cujdik's thuggish narcotics unit in March, none of the officers in the unit has been charged with a crime. A few have been taken off the street and lost their police powers, and there's now a federal investigation underway. But all of the officers from the unit are still collecting paychecks.

    Fuck, fuck and fucking fuck! This shit is nothing but organized crime aided and abetted by tax dollars.

    Where's the fuckin' DOJ?

    I have come to the sad conclusion that every large city PD in America is riddled with institutionalized corruption.

  • Abdul||

    Near the end of the story, it says " there's now a federal investigation underway."

  • ||

    It's not just the large ones. Small town copshops struggle with corruption and injustice.

  • smartass sob||

    It isn't just large cities and it isn't just the PDs; it's every bit of the damned government. Hell, even the public librarys are probably crooked.

  • Union Librarian||

    Nice books, ya got there, smartass. Be a shame if sumptin' were to happen to 'em.

  • ||

    I have come to the sad conclusion that every large city PD in America is riddled with institutionalized union corruption.

    There, FIFY

  • ||

    Unfortunately, the Attorney General's vast backlog of cases prevents him from taking an interest in this matter.

  • ||

    That's true. They had to get Tommy Chong off the streets first.

    It's all about priorities.

  • nobody||

    I live in Philly. There's more accountability in the Baltimore PD of *The Wire* than there is in the actual Philadelphia Police Department.

  • ||

    Hey nobody, do you know what happened to Alberto Lopez, the cop who was caught on video slapping around and pointing his gun in the face of the teenage girl whose car his son rear-ended, then lied about it in the investigation until the vid surfaced despite his buddies pressuring the convinence store's owners to erase it? I haven't heard if they fired him, or suspended him, or anything...

  • nostradamus||

    Let me guess. The DA office declines to indict, and Officer Lopez is taken off administrative leave. The mayor office is considering awarding Officer Lopez with a Medal of Valor.

  • DeeLIGHTEDbyCopsCaught||

    THANK YOU!!
    I appreciate someone actually mentioning the things the PPD does to the tax-paying, and even law-abiding, citizens. I so sick of them, never there when you need em, always looking to stick it to "civilians", call for help and left to die or get arrested for something/anything... UGH I never thought Id hate the police. I really feel they start out joining "the force" with good intent, and end up part of the corruption as the power and possibility turn theminto a gang of "credible" street thugs w badges. Good luck trying to prove they do anything wrong, ever go to court and have it be your word again a cops? you lose and become a target of every officer int hat district- FUCK EM ALL....Ill police myself, protect myself, help myself...thank you 2nd amendment and my RIGHT TO BEAR ARMS, cop or not, come in my house and I WILL SHOOT BACK

  • Drunkenatheist||

    Exactly, though I prefer to make comparisons to The Shield. :D

    I'm counting down the days until I get to move the fuck out of this city and back into the 'burbs. My boyfriend and I are convinced that in about 5 years, it's gonna look like Port-au-Prince here.

  • ||

    I'm from Baltimore ...and you're right !!

  • Doug||

    This is why I still support capital punishment. Fuckers like Cujdik deserve the chair.

  • ||

    People like Cujdik wouldn't get the chair. People like Corey Maye would. That's why I'm against capital punishment.

  • ||

    There's always "DIY" capital punishment...

  • Kyle Jordan||

    Yes. Yes there is. And it seems sometimes that's the only way to deal with these worthless cunts.

  • .SIV||

    There's always "DIY" capital punishment...

    Westberry had the opportunity when Cujdik crossed the threshold of his home.Looks like he would've saved himself a lot of trouble in the long run.

  • DeeLIGHTEDbyCopsCaught||

    Yes, it is better to be tried by 12 than carried by 6

  • Zeb||

    I would support capital punishment if it were reserved only for agents of the government who abuse their power.

  • People Power Hour||

    Correctamundo. I'll cast my ballot for that provision right here and now. Plus sign me up to flip the switch.

  • ||

    As long as the people who killed Kathryn Johnston are not on Death Row, nobody in this country should be on it.

  • ||

    In the Soviet Union, there was a joke that the initials KGB stood were an acronym for the Russian phase "Office of Crude Bandits".

    Looks like Philidelphia has the "Protected Perpetrators Department."

  • ||

    The three most infuriating words that I keep reading: PAID ADMINISTRATIVE LEAVE.

    These guys get vacations for committing crimes. Sounds like RC's Iron Law #1:

    You get more of what you reward, and less of what you punish.

  • Alan Vanneman||

    "Philadelphia Daily News reporters Wendy Ruderman and Barbara Laker—who have done some amazing reporting on this story ..."

    So, newspapers can be a force for good? Don't let Matt Welch see this.

  • Jordan||

    Oh joy, another witticism from Alan Strawman.

  • Warty||

    DURRR HURRR HUURRRRR
    LOL GOOD POINT ALAN VANNEMAN LOL LOL
    HURRRR DURRRR RRRURRRR

  • ||

    So, newspapers can be a force for good? Don't let Matt Welch see this.

    Right, because we're all sure that the newspaper would be just as enthusiastic about exposing this if the same city government that paid the police also subsidized the newspaper and paid the reporters' salaries.

    This story is an excellent argument against newspaper bailouts.

  • Morris||

    When private cops go rogue, who will know?

  • ||

    You're a dickhole. That's who.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Eddddddward. Edddddddward.

  • Abdul||

    Duh. The private organization we pay to stop rogue cops.

    Every problem of privatization can be solved with privitization.

  • Medic001||

    Isn't that company called Remington?

  • Col. Samuel Colt||

    No.

  • ||

    In a free society private cops won't have anywhere near the power that government cops do. Also, in a free society the citizens' right of self-defense wouldn't be blatantly interfered with, as it is in our current society.

  • ||

    Why not?

  • Cling Free||

    Focus on the two words "free society". There's your answer.

  • ||

    A free society wouldn't need cops. Cops enforce restrictions.

  • ||

    A free society wouldn't need cops. Cops enforce restrictions.

  • ||

    When private cops go rogue, who will know?

    Would it be any worse than the current situation?

    At least in that case all the leftists would actually care, instead of excusing it because they're union government employees.

  • ||

    Ah, yes: the lefties are all just just SOOOO pro-cop because of those loverly police unions, dontchaknow, and because lefties, historically, have had ZERO regard for social justice.

    It's like a straw man echo chamber in here...I thought this was "Reason" magazine. Guess I'll just stick to Balko's writing for my dose of reason; I sure ain't getting it in the comments section.

  • Drunkenatheist||

    Your first mistake was assuming that "Reason" applies to the majority of the authors here. Balko is about the only author who doesn't consistently sound like a babbling retard. (My favorite - the one that led to me not reading Reason for some time - was the incredibly UNlibertarian discussion regarding Polanski.)

    Your second mistake was assuming that the comments section wouldn't be proliferated with new & improved more retardation!

  • oncogenesis||

    The people paying for the private cops, of course.

    When you pay for something out of pocket, you have a natural incentive to make sure you're getting your money's worth. When the cost is hidden (e.g., via "public" funding), not so much.

    Oh, you were just trolling? Sorry.

  • Xeones||

    Oh good, Edward is here. Edward, you're a piece of shit. Fuck off and die.

  • ||

    The lefties wonder why more and more of the public wants to be armed when we have all these cops around to "protect" us. Morons.

  • ||

    The lefties want to be armed too, but by proxy. You know, the ability to summon someone with a gun using three digits on a phone.

  • ||

    More straw men! Yay!

  • ||

    What about may comment is a strawman?

  • ||

    What about my comment is a strawman?

  • ||

    Well, there's the fact that "lefties" generally don't like crooked cops any more than libertarians. If you want obedience to authority figures, you might want to look a bit more to the right.

    The short way to say it would be "Liberals aren't the ones that worship anything in a uniform."

  • ||

    Thanks, JT!

    Also, painting all liberals as anti-2nd Amendment is also erecting a straw man.

  • jester||

    '...there's now a federal investigation underway.'

    I am sure that will make everything ok.

  • ||

    This just in, federal investigators observed shaking down bodegas in Philly.

    I keed, I keed

  • Medic001||

    Put down the oreo crackers...

  • ||

    +1

  • LarryA||

    Did Westberry get his 40 firearms returned?

  • smartass sob||

    Fat chance of that, I'll bet. Fucking cops never give guns back, if they can help it.

  • steve||

    I bet not with the arson and assault charges having yet to be filed.

  • Tsu Dho Nihm||

    These types of stories are so common and consistent that I feel the police have become the most dangerous criminal gang in the country.

  • Medic001||

    AMEN.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Agreed. Don't the Crips use blue as their color? They might have to give it up if they want to avoid confusion.

  • ||

    No, the Crips can keep blue. The fucking cops use bronze, the color of the badge.

  • creech||

    This is what happens when the citizens leave a City in the hands of one party for almost sixty years.

  • ||

    This is what happens when people leave their safety entirely up to government for any amount of time.

    -jcr

  • Sam Grove||

    In the political stew, the crud rises to the top.

  • million||

    were his 40 guns safe at the station when the cop/drug-dealer burned his house down? gotta find that silver lining :-)

  • skootercat||

    I hope that these are the type of situations Sen. Webb's Res. S.714 is set to deal with. Straightening the gang in blue out might be the biggest reform needed except for our War on Some Drugs. There is however quite the relationship between drug thugs and bad cops.

  • Medic001||

    Damn you Balko and your manic news argggggggg.....

  • ||

    Sure would be delicious irony if he shot that crooked cop with one of those 40 lawfully owned guns.

  • Philly Cheese PD||

    Thirty nine eight. We only checked thirty eight guns into the evidence locker.

    What? No. There were no small hand guns in that lots. See, I've got the sign in sheet right here. It says thirty eight guns, and no light caliber pistols.

  • ||

    Damn, I'm glad I didn't read this yesterday. I always expect my Balko nut punch on Fridays.

  • ||

    Looks like it's time for the good people of Philadelphia to step up and form their own mutual protection associations. They are occupied by a hostile power, with no recourse to courts of law.

    -jcr

  • ||

    I think if I owned a store in the Philly area, I'd install some hidden cameras in addition to the obvious ones that the bad guys will disable.

    But Mr. Randolph is right. If the existing police are going to be above the law, then we'd better find some new police to protect us from them.

  • Woodhaven||

  • wizard of oz books||

    With many new announcement about the wizard of oz movies in the news, you might want to consider starting to obtain Wizard of Oz books series either as collectible or investment at www.RareOzBooks.com.

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