Former Bridgeton cop gets two years for taking bribe
July 22, 2011
BY ROBERT PATRICK

ST. LOUIS - A former Bridgeton police officer who took a $5,000 bribe to help someone hide drug cash was sentenced in federal court here to two years in prison Thursday.

In January, Scott W. Haenel met with a person identified in court only as "R.O.," and accepted the bribe, promising to turn a "blind eye" to R.O.'s "scheme to engage in unlawful monetary transactions" involving cash from north St. Louis County drug dealing. Haenel also promised to help conceal those transactions from other officers.

Ten days later, Haenel warned R.O. of an impending raid on his house planned by St. Charles police and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Unbeknownst to Haenel, R.O. was working with FBI agents in a corruption investigation.

In court Thursday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Reggie Harris asked U.S. District Judge Rodney Sippel for 27 months in prison, the high end of federal sentencing guidelines for the crimes. Harris said that unlike other recent cases of corrupt cops in federal court, Haenel had put other officers at risk.

Haenel lawyer Matt Schelp asked for the low end 21 months citing Haenel's service with the U.S. Army, his many years as an officer and his obligations to his wife and two young children.

Haenel, 38, apologized and said that an overindulgence in alcohol, enormous stress and sleep deprivation contributed to his poor decision.

In addition to the two year prison sentence, Sippel ordered Haenel to pay back the FBI for the $5,000 bribe.

Haenel pleaded guilty April 13 to accepting a bribe and obstruction of justice.

He joined Bridgeton in 2002 and had been detached to the North County Municipal Enforcement Group, a five-member anti-drug unit focusing on Berkeley, Bridgeton, Hazelwood and St. Ann, since 2007.

The Haenel investigation prompted a review of all his old cases. In April, Hazelwood Police Chief Carl Wolf, chairman of the board that oversees the task force, said that he was confident there were no other problems with his work.