No Charges Against 4 Narcotics Officers in Pulitzer-Winning “Tainted Justice” Series

| by Lina Batarags

Federal prosecutors and the Philadelphia district attorney will not file charges against the four narcotics officers involved in what has become widely known as the “Tainted Justice” case.

The Philadelphia Daily News covered the 2009 case, in which officers allegedly stole from corner stores during raids, lied about evidence and mistreated suspects. One of the officers involved was also accused of sexually assaulting three women.

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey had asked the FBI to investigate the allegations published in the Philadelphia Daily News, which won the 2010 Pulitzer for investigative reporting and which were the products of hundreds of interviews.

After the stories were published, narcotics officers Jeffrey Cujdik, Richard Cujdik, Thomas Tolstoy and Robert McDonnell Jr. were pulled off the street and placed on desk duty.

All four officers’ service weapons were confiscated, and their police powers removed.

Dozens of lawsuits were filed after the stories ran. Furthermore, 55 criminal cases were challenged by defense lawyers who raised questions about the officers’ credibility. In particular, criminal cases concerning the arrests made by Jeffrey Cujdik were interrupted by claims that he could not be considered a credible witness.

Ultimately, the city settled 33 lawsuits and paid $1.7 million in settlements.

The series’ authors, Wendy Ruderman and Barbara Laker, went on to write a book about their work, Busted: A Tale of Corruption and Betrayal in the City of Brotherly Love. The book was published in March by HarperCollins.

On Thursday, Ramsey stated that both the U.S. attorney and district attorney declined to prosecute.

Authorities announced that their decision not to prosecute was based in part on a lack of evidence and on their considering the witnesses weak.

After prosecutors dropped the case, the police department began an internal review to examine whether the officers have violated police protocols. The officers now face possible disciplinary action from the Police Department.

However, sources with knowledge of department policy have revealed that the officers may also soon be placed back on the street. The officers may even be awarded lost overtime pay.

Daily News editor Michael Days said the newspaper stands by its stories. Days noted that while the department was “disappointed” by the decision not to prosecute, “the citizens of Philadelphia should be even more disappointed.”


Photo Sources:,