Former Philadelphia Police Officer Charged in Extortion Scheme
PHILADELPHIA—Christopher Saravello, 37, of Philadelphia, PA, was charged by indictment, unsealed today, in a scheme to extort drugs and money from drug dealers and drug buyers while working as a Philadelphia Police Officer, announced United States Attorney Zane David Memeger. He is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act extortion and five counts of Hobbs Act extortion. He was arrested this morning.
According to the indictment, between November 2011 and June 2012, while employed as a Philadelphia Police Officer assigned to the 6th District, Saravello conspired with others, known to the grand jury, to rob drug dealers and drug buyers of cash and Oxycontin and other controlled substances. It is alleged that Saravello’s co-conspirators would alert him to a drug sale or drug buy. Saravello would then allegedly interrupt the planned drug transaction, identifying himself as a law enforcement officer by approaching the transaction in a marked police vehicle, wearing a police uniform, displaying an official badge and identification, or verbally identifying himself as a police officer. The indictment alleges that Saravello seized the narcotics being sold by the drug seller or the money being paid by the drug buyer and shared the drugs and/or money seized with his co-conspirators. In doing so, Saravello used his status as a law enforcement officer to seize the controlled substance and/or money from the drug seller or buyer. The alleged conspiracy resulted in the illegal taking of more than $9,800 in drug money and quantities of Oxycontin and other narcotics.
If convicted of all charges, Saravello faces a maximum possible sentence of 120 years in prison, $1.25 million fine, three years of supervised release and a $600 special assessment.
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Philadelphia Police Department and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Arlene Fisk.