Former Philadelphia Police Officer Sentenced in Extortion Scheme
PHILADELPHIA—Christopher Saravello, 38, of Philadelphia, PA, was sentenced today to 96 months in prison for a scheme to extort drugs and money from drug dealers and drug buyers while working as a Philadelphia Police Officer. Saravello pleaded guilty on February 6, 2015 to one count of conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act extortion and five counts of Hobbs Act extortion.
Between November 2011 and June 2012, while employed as a Philadelphia Police Officer assigned to the 6th District, Saravello conspired with others to rob drug dealers and drug buyers of cash and Oxycontin and other controlled substances. Saravello’s co-conspirators would alert him to a drug transaction. Saravello would then interrupt the planned drug transaction, driving up in a marked police vehicle, wearing a police uniform, displaying an official badge and identification, or verbally identifying himself as a police officer. He then extorted drugs or money from his victims. In two extortions, Saravello used his personal car and, rather than wearing a full uniform, wore clothing identifying himself as a police officer. During one extortion, Saravello unholstered his weapon, pointed his gun at the victim, ordered the victim to stand against a wall and threatened to shoot him if the extortion demand was not complied with. Saravello seized the money or narcotics brought to the transaction by the buyer or seller victim and shared the seized proceeds with his co-conspirators. The scheme resulted in the illegal taking of more than $9,800 in drug money and quantities of Oxycontin and other narcotics.
In addition to the prison term, U.S. District Court Judge Eduardo Robreno ordered three years of supervised release, and a $600 special assessment.
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Philadelphia Police Department. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Arlene Fisk.