ST. LOUIS • Several years ago, St. Louis police stopped regularly checking packages for drugs at delivery services like UPS and FedEx.
But employees of those companies may never have known that as, according to federal charges, Sgt. Larry J. Davis still made the rounds. Since Oct. 1, 2010, Davis allegedly collected parcels suspected of containing marijuana but took many home instead of the crime lab.
Davis, 46, of St. Louis, and his brother Linus R. "Bob" Davis, 42, of St. Louis County, were arrested Thursday on two felony marijuana counts: conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and possession with intent to distribute.
U.S. Attorney Richard Callahan said that Larry Davis "would visit some of the private package companies, they assumed he was acting in his official capacity and he would seize certain packages that looked suspicious. Some of the packages made their way to the police department lab, but the greater number did not."
Prosecutors said the Davis brothers later sold the drugs.
It is not clear how Sgt. Davis was alerted to the presence of the packages. Investigators may use drug-sniffing dogs or look for a parcel's appearance, origin or destination.
Larry Davis's lawyer, Neil Bruntrager, said his client will plead not guilty Monday when he is arraigned. "All the evidence has not been reviewed," Bruntrager cautioned, saying, "We are concerned that people are rushing to judgment."
Scott Rosenblum, the lawyer for Linus Davis, said "We'll plead not guilty and look at all the evidence."
Both defendants were released on $25,000 unsecured bail after making a court appearance Thursday.
Sgt. Davis, a supervisory sergeant in the Central Patrol Division's Special Operations Group, was responsible for investigating gangs and illegal drug sales. He was suspended without pay last week when the department learned of the investigation, and his home was searched.
He has also served in the Fifth & Ninth Districts, the Narcotics and Vice-Narcotics divisions.
Sgt. Davis, who is married and has a grown daughter, has been the subject of three internal affairs investigations throughout his career that resulted in discipline. He received a one-day suspension in 1990 for a procedure violation, a written reprimand for a radio violation in 2008 and a written reprimand last year for a procedure violation.
The police department paid $20,000 in March 2010 to settle a federal civil lawsuit in which a man, Robert Beene, alleged that Sgt. Davis and another officer, seeking information about a drug house, handcuffed him and took him to a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River. He claimed in the suit that Davis beat him, the other officer put a gun to his head and threatened to kill him and both threatened to throw him off the bluff, the suit claims.
Reached Thursday by telephone, Beene's lawyer, James Rohlfing, said, "We settled the case in mediation, so there's no admissions by anybody that Mr. Davis did anything."
Rohlfing said that officers admitted taking Beene into custody and detaining him, but denied the rest. He said internal affairs detectives did investigate the allegations, but he was not certain of the outcome.
Linus Davis works in construction and is divorced.
Police released a statement after Thursday's arrests, saying the department had "fully cooperated with this investigation" and would "continue to be vigorous in our efforts to root out any and all persons whose actions may comprise the integrity of the organization."
They referred questions to federal prosecutors.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Hal Goldsmith, who is handling the case, declined to comment.