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Ex-serviceman pleads guilty in border corruption case

February 12, 2009|Richard Marosi

SAN DIEGO — A former Air Force sergeant from Arizona has pleaded guilty to bribery and extortion conspiracy related to his role in the largest border corruption case in recent years, according to federal authorities.

Rommel I. Schroer was the last of 57 defendants to plead guilty in the wide-ranging sting operation that targeted U.S. law enforcement officers and military personnel in southern Arizona.

The defendants -- many of them police officers or members of the Army or Arizona National Guard -- believed they were teaming with drug traffickers but were actually working for a fake drug cartel created by a federal anti-corruption task force, according to court documents.

Schroer was accused of taking $7,500 from an FBI undercover agent to recruit three Air Force members and transport about 66 pounds of cocaine from Tucson to Phoenix.

Like other defendants, Schroer transported the drugs while in uniform in his official vehicle.

The multi-agency investigation, launched in 2001, was conducted by the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Tucson Police Department.

Schroer, who pleaded guilty Tuesday, is scheduled to be sentenced in April. Other defendants who faced similar charges received sentences ranging from two to three years, according to Laura Sweeney, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Justice.

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richard.marosi@latimes.com

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