Prince George's Police Officer Among 16 Charged in Drug Conspiracy

Officer Vanessa Edwards-Hamm accused of warning someone about surveillance methods in an attempt to impede the investigation

Wednesday, Jul 17, 2013  |  Updated 11:36 PM EDT
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News4's Mark Segraves has the latest details of an indictment against a Prince George's County police officer, accused of tipping off her brother and a drug ring he was involved in about a sting conducted by the police.

Mark Segraves

News4's Mark Segraves has the latest details of an indictment against a Prince George's County police officer, accused of tipping off her brother and a drug ring he was involved in about a sting conducted by the police.

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Seventeen people, including a Prince George's County police officer, have been charged for their alleged roles in a ring that distributed heroin, cocaine and other drugs across the D.C. area, authorities announced Wednesday.

The officer, Vanessa Edwards-Hamm, 38, is accused of warning her brother, 39-year-old Mark Edwards of Capitol Heights, Md. about surveillance methods in an attempt to impede the investigation into the drug ring.

Edwards-Hamm was arrested Monday and later released on personal recognizance. She was charged with tampering with documents or proceedings, and unlawful notice of electronic surveillance.

"In this case, a police officer sworn to uphold the law is accused of undermining law enforcement by revealing covert electronic surveillance," said U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. in a release.

Edwards-Hamm, a 9-year veteran of the Prince George's Police Department, was assigned to the Narcotic Enforcement Division for more than six years. She was suspended in April when Prince George's County Police officials found out about the investigation.

"As of [Wednesday Edwards-Hamm] was suspended without pay," Prince George's County Police Deputy Chief Henry Stawinski said. "Under these circumstances, certainly as this progresses, we're going to look at the cases [Edwards-Hamm] was involved in and make certain that inappropriate things didn't occur in other situations."

Stawinski said the department will also look into Edwards-Hamm's initial background check, to see if there was a reason her brother's alleged drug dealing did not show up on radar.

Prosecutors say the other suspects sold drugs in communities across the region -- the Potomac Gardens and Hopkins housing complexes in Southeast D.C., as well as in Prince George's County and Northern Virginia -- between December 2011 and this month.

Those suspects -- 14 men and two women -- are charged with conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute heroin, cocaine, PCP, marijuana and methamphetamines.

The suspects include a father-and-son pair, Jerome Cobble, 31, of Alexandria, Va., and Roger Cobble, 55, of District Heights, Md.

Police began making arrests Monday, with the most recent on Wednesday morning.

The other suspects arrested this week are:

  • Brian Bauer, 38, of Culpeper, Va.
  • Joshua Brown, 37, of Culpeper, Va.
  • Sean Douglas, 46, of D.C.
  • Alonzo Fields, 51, of D.C.
  • Calvin Stoddard, 35, of D.C.
  • Melvin Sugg, 68, of Landover, Md.
  • Sidney Woodruff, Sr., 58, of D.C.

Three defendants were already in custody:

  • Donald Jenkins, 32, of Culpeper, Va.
  • Jonathan Marshall, 38, of Brandy Station, Va.
  • Sandra Settle, 31, of Rixeyville, Va.

The drug conspiracy charge carries a minimum of five years and a maximum of 40 years of incarceration.

Edwards-Hamm faces a maximum of 20 years in prison on the charge of tampering with documents and proceedings, and up to five years on the charge of providing unlawful notice of electronic surveillance.

Authorities are still seeking three other suspects, two men and a woman.

The indictments were issued Monday and released to the public Wednesday.

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