FBI LASD U.S. Attorney

LA County Sheriff’s Deputy Arrested by Feds for Providing Security & More for Drug Transport Had a Triple Life

Celeste Fremon
Written by Celeste Fremon

Tuesday morning a team of FBI special agents arrested Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputy Kenneth Collins and three more suspects after they arrived in Pasadena, allegedly to provide “security” for the transport of nearly 45 pounds of cocaine and more than 13 pounds of methamphetamine.

The arrest of Collins and his “team,” was the culmination of a lengthy undercover investigation by the FBI that began more than six months ago after LA County Sheriff’s officials tipped off the feds that Collins might be up to no good.

Regarding the scheduled Tuesday delivery that was aborted by the morning’s arrests, Collins had allegedly agreed that he and his threesome would accompany the narcotics and make sure that legitimate law enforcement would not intercept the drugs during transport. In return for this “protection,” he and his crew would receive cash payment as high as $250,000.

This was allegedly the second time that Collins and a varying team of helpers had provided such security. In November of last year, Collins and two of the other men who were arrested on Tuesday, reportedly provided protection the transport of what they were told was six kilograms of methamphetamine, as well as marijuana and counterfeit cigarettes, from the Los Angeles area to Las Vegas.

Also arrested Wednesday along with the 50-year-old sheriff’s deputy were
David Easter, 51, of the Hyde Park District of Los Angeles, Grant Valencia, 34, of Pomona, and Maurice Desi Font, 56, of South Los Angeles. All four have been charged with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances (although Maurice Desi Font was charged slightly later than the first three).


Several lives

In addition to his alleged double life protecting drug dealers, Deputy Collins, who has been with the sheriff’s department for 15 years, also had another active avocation as a life coach and self-empowerment speaker. He is, for example, one of six featured speakers listed for a  February 10 event called the Girl Power Within Empowerment Conference to be held in Carson, CA. The upcoming conference seemed to be representative of a number of self-help oriented events at which Collins had been a speaker in the past year or so.

Collins being interviewed on ESPN radio

He also assigned for a period by LA County Sheriff’s to participate as a facilitator for the Emerging Leaders Academy, a non-profit organization that works with prison parolees and adult probationers, teaching them life skills and leadership techniques. (The organization is sponsored by the Agape International Spiritual Center, Goodwill, and the Los Angeles Urban League. It was also affiliated with the LASD during the time of Collins participation.)*

It was through this program that Collins may have first met one of his alleged co-conspirators, noted the Los Angeles Times.

According to his Facebook page, Collins, who lists that he studied criminal justice ethics at Ashworth College, and human behavior at Morehouse, had expanded his speaking expertise to include relationship advice.  Collins also managed a self-empowerment organization called Clarity Through Education.

“Deputy Collins sold his badge to assist an individual he thought was a drug trafficker,” said United States Attorney Nicola T. Hanna. “This case is part of our long-standing and ongoing commitment to root out corruption, particularly when it involves sworn law enforcement officers.”

(Hanna is new to the job of U.S. Attorney and was appointed to his position on January 3, 2018, by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and sworn in on January 5.)

Paul Delacourt, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office, had equally harsh words for Collins.

“Deputy Collins used his position of trust and appropriated his authority to conduct lucrative criminal activity with others at the expense of Los Angeles County residents,” said Paul Delacourt, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office.

Interestingly, it was not the feds, but Deputy Collins’ own department that first discovered something off-kilter was going on, and brought the allegations of misconduct to the attention of the FBI, according to a statement released by the LASD on Wednesday.

“Since that time, the LASD has been directly cooperating with the Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation during all aspects of the investigation,” stated the LASD on Wednesday.

Collins told a reporter for the San Gabrial Valley Tribune in 2014, that he grew up poor in Central Los Angeles before joining the military. After joining the LASD, he spent some time working in the department’s Lennox station, and was most recently assigned to the County Services Bureau. He has been placed on administrative leave.


An elaborate undercover scheme

The first of the meetings with undercover FBI agents and Collins occurred in August 2017, when an agent posed as a family member of a wealthy investor looking to finance an illegal marijuana grow house. (Obviously, this was before marijuana became legal in California on January 1, 2018.) Collins allegedly offered to provide security for the grow house and claimed to have three “teams” that already provided security for drug operations across San Bernardino and Los Angeles counties.

According to the affidavit in support of the complaint filed last week, this meeting concluded with the undercover agent paying Collins $5,000 in “good faith” money for future services.

Over the course of several meetings, Collins also made an ominous offer to “fix problems” for the undercover agent, in exchange for cash payment, according to court documents. This allegedly included physically assaulting people. In fact, according to the same documents, Collins claimed to have a very “professional” “team” comprised of “cops” who “travel…with guns.” He reportedly described how he and two others recently “handled” a situation for a “client” in Boston by setting a luxury truck on fire.

During a meeting in September, the undercover agent told Collins that he was having an “issue” with a person in Northern California, and, in exchange for $2,000, Collins allegedly performed and delivered a “work-up” on that person, which included obtaining that person’s home address and driver’s license number, according to documents.

Collins delivered the “work-up” in early October, at which time he allegedly said that he could provide additional services in relation to the Northern California person. “We can definitely, you know, kind of impact him a little bit.”

If Collins and the other three who were arrested on Tuesday are convicted of the drug trafficking conspiracy alleged in the criminal complaints, each defendant would face a sentence of up to life in prison.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Lindsey Greer Dotson of the Public Corruption and Civil Rights Section.


*UPDATED 2:20 p.m., 1/18/2018: Deputy Collins has not been with the Emerging Leaders Academy since 2013. The academy has reportedly not been “functionally affiliated” with the LASD since 2014.

27 Comments

  • Terrific. Emerging Leader’s Academy, how appropriate. Thanks for tarnishing the badge. Oops, I forgot he sold it. What a POS.

    Have fun with your new roommates.

    • No diffrent from the absolute violations of justice by deputies on the Brady List, which includes rapists, liars and cheaters. No excuse for criminal acts but keep in mind the two things that every cop relies on and that is “Due Process” & Peace Officers Bill of Rights.

    • He is not a true representative of the Emerging Leaders Academy and what it’s about/stands for, no more than is he a true representative of the LA County Sheriff and what it’s about/stands for. His actions tarnished both organizations….

  • Hmm…sounds like criminal behavior to me. Reminds me of the stolen suitcase of C-4 explosives taken by a transient at Union Station during a training exercise. Locked down the whole station and was unable to locate the C-4. By the end of the day….the C-4 had metastasized in to det cord. A lot less volatile than C-4 and does make the Department look as foolish. Problem was the C-4 was later recovered by LAPD at a homeless encampment. Typical Department response ….CYA until it hits the fan. Any criminal behavior there?

  • Be it the top of the food chain or the bottom….criminality and corruption has and continues to exist within the Department.

  • This Deputy had not been affiliated in any form as a facilitator with the Emerging Leaders Academy in any capacity since late 2013, and the Emerging Leaders Academy had ended it’s functional relationship with the LA County Sheriff’s Department in 2014.

    He was a department employee assigned to the program as his employment, not as a volunteer.

    Furthermore, he has NEVER been listed anywhere on the organization’s website or in its literature as a coach, facilitator, speaker or otherwise.

  • EDITOR’S NOTE:

    Dear ELA. Thanks so much for clearing that up. (I was trying to piece together the situation late last night.) This is a big help and I’ll make the relevant changes. Also, we’d love to hear more about ELA, wholly apart from Mr. Collins. Please email me your contact information, if you don’t mind.

    C.

  • It’s not a surprise…you either joined the department corrupt, become corrupt, or retire corrupt…Greed and power got the better of him. I am happy the FBI is doing their jobs. Baca and Tanaka had to go and so do the corrupt deputies; straight to the “pokie” as deserved. Corruption, Greed, Power in Law enforcement is and will always be part of the fabric and culture of this profession. They always slip through the cracks but always get caught.

  • “One of the biggest step towards success is to surround yourself with (the) right people, who will lift you!” Kenneth Collins, Clarity Through Education Facebook page.

    As Doctor Phil always asks, “How’d that work out for you?”

    • Surprisingly how “so called” veteran cops think that no one is smarter than they are. Truly amazing. He’s not the first, neither will he be the last.

  • So much for Fresh Eyes McBuckles reform campaign. And to think there are far bigger fish and budding cliques employed as we speak. The failed sheriff thought that just putting his name on the door and changing buckle colors was all he needed to sell the false notion of being a reformer.

    • So making the “Brady List” public, means nothing. And yes, I know that McDonnell’s top echelon are holdovers from the Tanaka regime but reform has to start somewhere. As far as him being the latest Sheriff of Los Angeles County, there wasn’t a choice….or was it?

      • Yes, making the Brady list Public was a cheap publicity stunt, nothing more. He took the product of a compromised investigative process and then “hoped” he would be sued and then defend it not once but twice and losing each time. How about actually cleaning house and complying proactively with both the Brady decision and Pitchess motions?

        The only clarity McBucles was seeking was to fool a gullible political establishment that he was a reformer. The same crowd that thought Baca was the real deal.

        • It’s going to take a “Miracle on Temple Street.” to upend the current status quo. Also interesting would be to see the LASD unions get behind a solid candidate. Change is possible but it won’t be cheap or pretty. This time, there will be a choice and only time will tell.

          • “This time, there will be a choice….”

            If the choice is from within the LASD the outlook doesn’t look good, as extrapolated from past Sheriff’s elections:

            http://www.laalmanac.com/election/el34.php

            As you can see from this link, aside from Paul Tanaka nobody from within the LASD received more than 10% of the vote in the 2014 election.

            A viable candidate from within the LASD will have to show that he’s locked horns with the LASD over the issue of corruption while in the LASD; otherwise, his candidacy will have no credibility.

            I personally can think of a couple of candidates that can do this; lessee how things turn out.

            The election is only months away (June 5, 2018)….

  • It’s amazing that with all the sheriffs years in law enforcement at various executive level positions, he can not, does not want to or could care less about “fixing” the LASD. I guess when he took the job, he thought the mere fact of having his name associated with the Department would command awe and respect from the troops versus meaningful reform and actions.

    The Department is still rotten on many of its parts from the top down with Tanaka, with loyalist and students of his school of thought and management style scheming behind the schemes. It will be interesting to see where the Department is in ten, twenty or thirty years. It’s being run into the ground, with everyone up top out to protect their self serving interests, get what they can off the county tit and bail before the next scandal unravels.

    Sheriff..continue to “distract, deflect and draw” attention away from the real problems within relating to employee retention, morale and hiring. Instead focus on those issues the media and your handlers tell you to and what you think the public will remember at the polls.

  • The Department is a “Joke” when the under educated “good Ol’ boys” who are your so called supervisors fail to do their jobs, and defend the dishonest deputy (s)…”We have a problem Houston”. Unfortunately, these are issues that if reported; you will be that guy or girl who for the rest of your career will carry that stigma of being a “rat” or untrustworthy, even if you did the right ethical and moral thing. The executives don’t want to be bothered with what is or not ethical and moral, unless it blows up in their face on news articles in the L.A. Times…Thank you Maya…your awesome.

    When Sgts’ cover up for deputies wrong doings and turn around and attempt to “gaslight you” and LT’s ask you for blow jobs and beg you to change your story because they failed to report, then what does that tell you? This department is all about “who you know” ethics and morals is a fairy tale brainwash “core values” that are seldom carried out. Honesty, Integrity, is a freakin’ joke. You never know who you are working with. Collins, Scotty, Jump out Boys, 3000 boys, Banaka and the rest of those substandard deputies on the Brady list who by the way are SGT’s or holding coveted positions…How about a round of applause for them!!

    I do support Mcbuckles on one thing and that’s his fight with the Civil Service Commission and trying to clean up the department. He should have started with his executives too. I say Fire them all. This whole department is a Cess Pool of the least desirable law enforcement officers in L.A.

    • There are a lot of great deputies and custody assistants on LASD, it’s just that you don’t hear about them because they keep there head down, do their job and stay focused on the task/goal they’re given. Regrettably, just like the black sheep of the family, the deeds of the bad ones draw all the attention and set the low bar by which the media and public judge the whole group.

      Another regrettable fact, the bad apples, once they attain rank, power and control like to surround themselves by weak minded, gullible and encourageable climbers who will do anything, and I mean anything, for that “coveted spot” or promotion. These same individuals are then given the “keys to the car”, kiss the ring, promote as part of the “click” and the cycle repeats itself again, and again, and again…

      The ethical, upright and honest deputies and custody assistants, stay out of the cess pool, go to work and do their jobs honorably and without incident everyday.

      • That is very true. Let’s make sure we do our best to unseat McBuckles in June and get rid of the cancer at the top. He should be embarrassed to even think of filing for reelection. Perhaps his ego is too big to realize he is the main problem and will never be part of the solution unless it involves his resignation.

        • To unseat McDonnell, the opposition would need funds along with a front-runner. Neither exists. I concur with change being past due, however the anger and disgruntled deputies aren’t prepared. June is right around the corner with no battle plan, not even a forward observer. Good luck with that.

          • To unseat McDonnell, a successful challenger needs department members to pull their collectives heads out of their asses and get involved. The resources are there, the “frontrunner” status you claim is bogus. The political establishment has mixed opinions on the incumbent, and he has made all the bad decisions required to not engender a groundswell of support for his reelection.

            Either department members bypass their inept unions and get involved themselves, or the unions sprout a spine and call out McBuckles. He will go down, mark my word, if everyone sets their egos aside and roll up their sleeves.

        • It’s all about who likes you and who doesn’t. All about who YOU know…NETWORK as I was once told. Sell your soul for that promotion or position. As Conspiracy said, the car promotes the car and the cycle continues just different players.

          The department has a way of keeping your career on hold. And if they really don’t like you, they for sure find a way to fire you! or promote you…the proverbial F-Up and Move Up.

      • Dear Conspiracy,

        You do have a point and you are correct, not everyone is a “Bad Apple”…Yes there are many Good employees on the Department. Unfortunately, they often get passed up by the Brown Noser’s who never paid their dues. Just punching the 2 yr. minimum ticket and climbing upwards with little or no experience. Who needs experience right?

        I do believe Cess Pool is an appropriate term to describe the element and quality of some Deputies on the department. But I do stand corrected.. not all are swimming in that pool.

        Just ride the Light Duty desk for part of your career and then pass the test. Oh WOW! I am a Sergeant in charge of Deputies. Then all your injuries are cured for a short moment until you find another desk job to ride up to Lieutenant. How can anyone have respect for newly promoted SGT’s with that history? As long as you have a Captain in your pocket…

        The infamous CAR… it has a new 5.0 engine, 20” inch dubs, and rollin’ hard… over experience, and hard working deputies who payed their dues. It’s still a good ol’ boy and Now Girls club. Make sure to keep your nose nice and brown tho! guaranteed a fast promotion.

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