Police prosecutor pleads guilty to drug charges

Confidential intelligence was leaked by a police prosecutor to people accused of running the country's largest ecstasy ring, a court has been told.

Timothy John Russell Sarah pleaded guilty to five charges in the High Court at Auckland this morning, including supplying the class A drug and dishonestly accessing the police intelligence computer system.

The non-sworn police staff member was among the 22 people arrested as part of Operation Ark, a 12-month investigation targeting the manufacture and supply of class B drugs MDMA, or ecstasy, and class C drugs such as 4-MEC, better known as mephedrone.

A lawyer by profession, Sarah, 36, was a police prosecutor in the Auckland District Court and played rugby for the New Zealand police team.

He had faced 20 charges including the possession and supply of methamphetamine and ecstasy, participating in an organised criminal group and passing information from the police computer system to three co-accused.

However, this morning in the High Court , the Crown filed a fresh indictment with five charges, including two representative charges

Sarah's lawyer Ron Mansfield told the court that he was pleased to announce a resolution in the case and described his client's offending as "low-level street dealing"

But Justice Timothy Brewer said there was a "twist" in the case.

"I think there is a bigger problem for your client. As a non-sworn police employee he accessed the police intelligence system for his own criminal purpose."

Mr Mansfield said the information was not passed on to others for any money.

Sarah was remanded on bail for sentencing in May.

Others caught up in the police operation include Brendan Nguyen, 32, Allen Bryan Cho, 37, and a company director, 36, who has name suppression.

Nguyen faces 28 charges including supplying c ass-B and selling class C drugs, perverting the course of justice and conspiring to supply methamphetamine with Cho and Sarah.

Cho faces charges of laundering $317,000 and supplying class C drugs, ecstasy, methamphetamine and cocaine.

Another was Darren Ian Hodgetts, 34, an Auckland traffic officer who has previously worked for the Fire Service, St John ambulance and Surf Lifesaving New Zealand.

He pleaded guilty in the Auckland District Court in January to accessing a computer system for a dishonest purpose, and was sentenced to four months' community detention.

Others caught up in the raids include Shalendra Singh, 32, who faces 27 charges including supplying methamphetamine and laundering more than $100,000 through a bank account connected to Allen Cho.

While Sarah and Hodgetts decided against trying to keep name suppression, seven Operation Ark co-accused have been given name suppression.

Auckland metro drug squad head Detective Inspector Bruce Good has previously said the syndicate was believed to be responsible for most ecstasy manufacture and supply in this country, selling thousands of tablets a week.

The ring has also been linked to tablets at Fairfield College in Hamilton, where six students were taken to hospital last month after swallowing what they thought were lollies.

 

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