EAST CLEVELAND, Ohio (WJW) – A Former East Cleveland police officer, who admitted to stealing money and guns from people during traffic stops, is now headed to prison.
Alfonzo Cole, 35, was sentenced in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court Monday to two and a half years in prison.
Judge Tim McGinty also ordered Cole to pay thousands of dollars in fines and restitution.
“The victims are robbed by police officers, that is a shocking event,” McGinty said during sentencing.
Prosecutors told the judge that Cole was hired to protect the citizens of East Cleveland and instead he robbed them.
“He used is authority, his power, for his own profit and his own gain,” said Assistant Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Mary Grace Tokmenko.
In August, Cole entered guilty pleas to four counts of robbery and one count of theft in office for several offenses that happened between July 2020 and July 2021.
According to prosecutors, in September 2020, Cole pulled over a 43-year-old victim. During the stop, Cole took $850 in cash and about $400 worth of suspected marijuana from the car, then gave the victim a citation with Cole’s and an East Cleveland police sergeant’s signatures on it.
Investigators later determined the sergeant was not at the scene of the stop and Cole forged the sergeant’s signature.
In June 2021, Cole stopped a 26-year-old victim on Bender Avenue, taking $4,000 in cash from the car, suspected marijuana and a firearm.
That same day, Cole pulled over an 18-year-old on Noble Road. He asked the victim if he had a gun in the vehicle, then searched it, taking a firearm that belonged to the victim’s mother from under the seat, along with bullets found in its glove box.
That same day, Cole and another officer stopped a driver at a gas station near Euclid Avenue and Superior Road, taking $5,000 from the victim. That victim reported the theft to the East Cleveland Police Department, which contacted the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office.
A few days later, deputies searched Cole’s home and found guns that were stolen during some of the traffic stops. Cole has not worked for the department since July 2021.
More than a dozen East Cleveland police officers have been indicted on various crimes. Cole is the first one to be sentenced to prison. The cases of the other former officers are still pending.
“This is something we might see in movies, it’s not something that anyone could possibly think would happen in real life,” said Assistant Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Andy Rogalski. “It’s angering, it’s sad. We feel for the victims and we feel for the city of East Cleveland. “