To Serve and Collect?! Former Dekalb County Deputy Police Chief Sentenced For Taking Bribes

| October 26, 2012 | 0 Comments

It’s a sad day for the Dekalb county police department as one of their leaders is going to federal prison.

Former DeKalb County Deputy Police Chief Donald E. Frank who accepted bribes and the businessman who bribed him were both sentenced today by United States District Judge William S. Duffey, Jr.

Frank, 49, of Monroe, Georgia, and Amin Budhwani, 48, a citizen of India who resides in Atlanta, previously pleaded guilty and cooperated against a third defendant in the case, Willie Daren Durrett, 47, of Tucker, Georgia.  Durrett, who was serving as a DeKalb County Police Lieutenant at the time of the bribery, was sentenced at 9:30 a.m. on Friday, October 26, 2012, before U.S. District Court Judge William S. Duffey, Jr.

United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said, “Budhwani paid police officers Frank and Durrett to act as his collection agents, and to intimidate citizens they were sworn to protect into settling their financial disputes with him.  Instead of enforcing the law, these officers chose to break it, lining their own pockets in the process. Their corrupt conduct is deserving of the sentences the court imposed.”

Mark F. Giuliano, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Atlanta Field Office said, “Criminal investigations involving police corruption are always disheartening but, because of their very nature, remain a priority for the FBI.  The sentencing of defendants Frank and Durrett, who were experienced officers that held rank within their department, brings to a close a case that ended two promising law enforcement careers because of their abandonment of their sworn oaths and the public’s trust for personal gain.”

Frank was sentenced to 3 years and 7 months in prison, to be followed by 3 years of supervised release, and 100 hours of community service.  On April 1, 2011, Frank pleaded guilty to entering into a conspiracy with fellow DeKalb police officer Willie Darren Durrett to take bribes from Budhwani. Budhwani was sentenced to 1 year, 8 months in prison, to be followed by 3 years of supervised release, and fined $15,000.  On June 1, 2010, Budhwani pleaded guilty to bribing Frank.

Budhwani, who owned and operated several gas stations and convenience stores in the Atlanta area, initially approached Durrett in 2007 to help him intimidate a small business owner with whom Budhwani had a financial dispute.  Durrett made threatening phone calls to the business owner while identifying himself as a DeKalb County police officer, which resulted in the individual paying Budhwani over $10,000 to settle the dispute. Durrett also required the employees of the business to cash their paychecks at Budhwani’s convenience store.

In 2008, Durrett introduced Budhwani to Deputy Chief Frank after Budhwani sought Durrett’s assistance in persuading a woman with whom Budhwani was involved to stop seeing him. Durrett suggested that Budhwani go to Frank because he could better deal with the matter.  Durrett told Frank that when he did anything for Budhwani, he should make sure and get paid for the work.  Durrett, in turn, shook Budhwani down for payments, asking Budhwani “How do you like our services?” Durrett was referring to the work that he and Frank did on Budhwani’s behalf.  Budhwani testified he paid Durrett $5,000 for this incident.

Budhwani had another dispute with a business partner in October 2008 for which he again sought assistance from Frank and Durrett.  This business partner was Pakistani and was working in Atlanta.  Budhwani had Frank call the business partner and allude to him that he was being investigated by Homeland Security.  Frank arranged for other DeKalb County Officers to conduct a traffic stop of the business partner and to drive around the hotel where the man was staying.  Budhwani then convinced the business partner that law enforcement was following him and must think he was a terrorist and that he should leave the country. He also insisted that he leave all his business interests to Budhwani.  Budhwani then arranged for Durrett to meet him and the business partner at the airport to escort the partner through security.  In reality, this business partner was never under investigation and did not need an escort, but because of Frank, Budhwani, and Durrett’s actions the Pakistani business partner felt threatened and frightened.  Budhwani testified he paid Durrett $2,000 for his assistance at the airport.

After a trial, during which both Frank and Budhwani testified against Durrett, Durrett was found guilty by a jury on July 20, 2012, of conspiring to take bribes and on two counts of accepting thousands of dollars in bribes from Budhwani between 2007 and 2008.

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