A 17-year Arlington police veteran accessed law-enforcement-only databases to tip off a steroid dealer from whom he had been buying steroids for himself and other officers for years, according to federal documents released Wednesday.Grits has long said I wouldn't mind if steroids were legalized and used responsibly by cops, firefighters, athletes, bodybuilders, you name it. Others will surely disagree, but at root I think adults should be able to take them if they know the risks. In part that's because of the harms from a black market and in part because a regulated market would make it easier to keep steroids out of the hands of young people, for whom the physical risks are more significant. But as long as the substances are banned, the act of securing steroids opens police up to corruption and mixed allegiances that may sometimes favor the criminal element, as alleged in this unhappy story.
Thomas S. Kantzos, 45, was arrested by the FBI on Tuesday, the same day that David Vo, another officer under investigation, died in an apparent suicide.
Kantzos, who had been federal custody, made an initial appearance in federal court in Dallas on Wednesday afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Paul D. Stickney.
He was ordered released on pretrial supervision with certain conditions. Wearing a black T-shirt and shorts, Kantzos was told that he must give up his weapons, law enforcement license and passport and refrain from taking drugs.
Kantzos is charged with unlawfully providing sensitive information by exceeding authorized access to a protected computer.
According to a federal affidavit, the investigation began in January after a man arrested for distributing anabolic steroids told authorities that he had sold steroids to Kantzos for five or six years.
The man, referred to in the affidavit as the “CW,” or cooperating witness, told investigators that on at least one occasion, he delivered about 20 human growth hormone kits to Kantzos while the officer was on duty, in uniform and in his patrol car.
Long-time readers will recall that Arlington PD has a history of de facto tolerance toward steroid users with arbitrators in 2007 reinstating an officer in a high-profile case that department brass wanted to fire for steroid use. Futher, as Grits reported in 2008, now-deceased steroid dealer David Jacobs claimed to have sold steroids to officers in five Metroplex police departments before he and his girlfriend died of gunshot wounds that year in an incident officially ruled a murder/suicide. Dallas PD implemented department-wide steroid testing after the incident, but the other four - Garland, Richardson, Arlington and Plano - did not. In other words, this episode is not a one-off. And Arlington PD has already tried doing nothing and hoping the issue will blow over.
Given that record, perhaps it's time for Arlington PD to begin immediate, comprehensive steroid testing of its police officers. These episodes keep cropping up over and over. Why not react more aggressively?
MORE: Eric Nicholson at the Dallas Observer's Unfair Park blog had an even more detailed post yesterday regarding this most recent incident involving Officer Thomas Kantzos:
A federal criminal complaint filed against Kantzos today provides a much clearer picture of the allegations.AND MORE: In response to the indictment, reported the Dallas News, Arlington police chief Will Johnson "announced an immediate expansion of the department’s random drug testing program to include all employees." Three questions immediately come to mind: 1) Dd the random testing not cover uniformed officers already? 2) Why not enact comprehensive testing - at least on a one-time basis - to clean house instead of waiting and hoping random testing will pick them up over time? Finally, 3) when will the other shoe(s) drop? From what's publicly known already, Kantzos allegedly supplied other officers, yet more officers still obtained steroids from other sources. Kantzos was busted not for steroid use per se but for doing favors for his dealer like license plate checks. And at least two other Arlington police officers did it, too. This is but the beginning of a sordid tale, not its denouement, if APD management has the stones to follow the evidence all the way to the end of the path. Given the scope of APD officer involvement, it might be better if an independent agency like the FBI or the Texas Rangers took on that task.
According to court documents, Kantzos used his access to state and federal law enforcement databases to illegally run at least a half-dozen names and license plates for a suspected drug dealer. The first time this happened, in December 2011, the dealer discovered that the man with the laptop parked down the street was a member of a local drug task force and that someone had hidden a tracking device on his car.
But that just scratches the surface of Arlington PD's troubles. The drug dealer was arrested in January 2013 and became a cooperating witness. He told the FBI that Kantzos had been a customer for at least five years, regularly stocking up on steroids and human growth hormone. Once, he told agents, he had even delivered a shipment to Kantzos while the cop was in his squad car, in uniform and on duty.
But Kantzos wasn't the only one. Text messages (""oy from work wants a test and a dec....") and phone conversations revealed that a whole mess of Arlington cops were doing steroids. The dealer -- he's identified in court documents only as "CW," or cooperating witness -- had supplied several. At least two of the license plates checks were conducted by Kantzos' Arlington PD colleagues when he wasn't at work.
Following the his arrest, FBI agents built a criminal case by recording the dealer's texts and phone calls. During one conversation in April, Kantzos seemed concerned by the arrest of a couple of dealers who'd been selling steroids to his colleagues. He wanted to know if the dealer was connected at all to the arrestees and whether it would affect his supply.
"All our sources dried up," Kantzos explained, going on to promise that "You'll be back in business" and "I got like five guys that are fucking 'jonesin.'"
That was in April.
See prior related Grits posts:
- Shift steroid testing dollars from students to cops
- Why only athletes and body builders? Plano steroid prosecutions ignore alleged police doping
- Dallas PD will implement steroid testing after David Jacobs' allegations
- Possible suicide by snitch who alleged police doping deserves outside inquiry
- Informant who accused Metroplex police of steroid use turns up dead
- Plano steroid dealer said he sold to police in five Metroplex cities
- NYPD requires steroid testing of officers in wake of scandal
- Feds should check names of steroid customers with state law enforcement registries
- Where is Congressional investigation of steroid abuse among law enforcement?
- Steroid use negligible among high school jocks; what about testing police?
- Why test Texas high school athletes for steroids but not police officers?
- Arbitrator reinstates steroid using police officer
- Cops on Steroids
- Lawsuit: Private mercenaries, police trainers abuse steroids in Iraq
- Insert Shrunken Testicle Joke Here: Book by ex-Texas cop defends steroid use by police