The disgraced detective stole $40,000 in drug money that was waiting to be intercepted by a drug task force.
A Louisville detective outed himself as a crooked cop with one critical error—paying for a $5 McDonald’s meal by credit card around the same time he lifted $40,000 of drug evidence.
Detective Kyle Willett—a veteran of Louisville Metro Police who at the time was working at a UPS shipping hub as part of a task force to intercept drug activity in Louisville, Kentucky—stopped for a sweet tea and cheeseburger at McDonald’s and paid for the $4.76 meal with his credit card.
Then, he went to work, illegally searched a package, and stole its contents—$40,000 in cash. Little did he know, a West Coast drug task force was waiting in Oakland, California for the same package to arrive, hoping to intercept the $40,000 of evidence that would help nab a drug trafficker.
But the package wasn’t entirely empty. It didn’t contain the money, but it did contain some damning evidence that would lead authorities to Willett—the discarded bag that his McDonald’s meal came in, which he had for some reason stuffed inside the emptied package, receipt and all.
Authorities were able to identify Willett via the last four digits of his credit card number from the receipt, and his white Tahoe was identified via surveillance footage in the McDonald’s parking lot at the time printed on the receipt.
Authorities began investigating Willett and caught him the next time he stole cash from a package.
The investigation affected not only Willett, but his entire task force. Upon scrutinizing the task force’s activity during the Willett investigation, authorities noticed that task force members were illegally searching packages without warrants, in their vehicles, or alone. And if they did found evidence, they would re-seal the package and request a search warrant, according to the Courier–Journal.
Though it is a clear constitutional violation, according to legal experts, then-U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Kentucky John Kuhn decided to prosecute only Willett and not the other members of the task force.
However, the decision was made to “clean house completely” within the task force to flush out any “systemic issues,” and every member has since been replaced.
Willett resigned in October 2016 and pleaded guilty in federal court to theft from interstate shipment (a felony) for stealing more than $74,000 between January and August 2016.
According to the Courier-Journal, most of the stolen cash was found in his home and car.