LITTLE ROCK — A former Helena-West Helena police officer nabbed in a public corruption sting operation in eastern Arkansas last year was convicted on federal drug and extortion charges Friday.
A U.S. District Court jury found Marlene Kalb guilty on two counts of attempted extortion under color of official right and two counts of attempt to possess cocaine with intent to distribute. The jury acquitted Kalb on two counts of money laundering.
U.S. District Judge James M. Moody will set sentencing later. Kalb faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each count.
“This verdict demonstrates the strength of evidence gathered by the FBI and other law enforcement partners into public corruption in the Delta region of Arkansas,” U.S. Attorney Christopher R. Thyer said. “Today, a jury has found another former officer guilty of misusing her position of trust in the community. While the vast majority of law enforcement officers serve with integrity and honor, it is unfortunate that there are a few who cross the line and tarnish the public confidence in our system of justice.”
The convictions stem from an FBI-led sting operation targeting corrupt police officers in the Delta. Authorities said Kalb, while in uniform and on duty, provided a protective police escort for a purported drug trafficker - an FBI informant - in her police cruiser in September 2011.
Four other former officers were charged, pleaded guilty and are serving prison sentences of from 14 months to 80 months.
The FBI-led sting operation was part of the investigation known as “Operation Delta Blues,” which focused primarily on public corruption and drug trafficking activities in the Helena-West Helena and Marianna.
In all, 70 people were indicted in the investigation. Beside Kalb, 31 have been sentenced; 11 have pleaded guilty and have been scheduled for or are awaiting sentencing hearings; and five are scheduled to plead guilty. The rest are scheduled for trial in February, March or April.