Two former members of the Columbus Division of Police vice squad who were involved in the 2018 arrest of adult film star Stormy Daniels during her public feud with President Donald Trump were themselves arrested Tuesday. They former officers are charged with conspiring to violate the civil rights of others and conspiring to commit wire fraud.
David M. DeVillers, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, announced Tuesday that former Columbus Division of Police (CPD) Officers Steven G. Rosser and Whitney R. Lancaster were arrested without incident for allegedly seizing, searching, and detaining individuals without cause and for double-billing for special duty hours they did not work.
“The indictment alleges that these two former law enforcement officers abused their badges and deprived individuals of their Constitutional rights,” DeVillers said in a statement Tuesday.
“We will root out any alleged bad actors acting under color of law and are grateful to the vast majority of officers who do the honorable work of protecting us and the Constitution.”
Rosser, 43, was a 19 year Columbus Police veteran while Lancaster, 57, had been on the force for 31 years.
Along with several of their law enforcement colleagues, the two former officers arrested Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, and two other female dancers during an unsanctioned raid of Sirens Gentlemen’s Club in Columbus, Ohio. The officers — who claimed they were investigating a possible prostitution and human trafficking ring — charged the adult film star and her colleagues with violating an Ohio statute that prohibits nude or semi-nude exotic dancers from allowing patrons to touch them. Prosecutors quickly dropped the charges.
Daniels filed a civil lawsuit against the City of Columbus and several of the arresting officers – including Rosser and Lancaster – alleging that her arrest was staged in an effort to protect President Trump. The lawsuit resulted in a $450,000 settlement for Daniels and changes to department procedures. Several officers involved with the Daniels arrest faced internal investigation and discipline in a probe which involved whistleblower emails. (To be clear, some of the fallout involved officers other than the two charged by the Department of Justice in this case.)
Yet ironically, both of this week’s charges against the former officers stem from altercations at Ohio strip clubs.
According to the indictment, Rosser allegedly represented that he was acting in his official capacity as an officer during a 2015 fight at Nick’s Cabaret. He and other officers unlawfully seized and searched the other participant in the fight before detaining him for days.
The indictment also stated that in 2018 both Lancaster and Rosser seized and searched the owner of The Dollhouse gentlemen’s club and his car without cause, in violation of the owner’s Fourth Amendment rights.
The accusations of double billing involve a fire sprinkler system break which led to flooding at an indoor water park and resort. The officers were assigned to work a special “fire watch” at the structure to keep an eye out for further issues. The officers are accused of billing the resort’s owner for working the fire watch while they also billed the city for working their regular police shifts. Some 29 days are at issue, the U.S. Attorney’s Office says.
[image via ABC screengrab]
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