More than 400 convictions could be thrown out in wake of an investigation by Fairfax County, Virginia and the FBI into the racially motivated behavior of former officer Jonathan Freitag, Washington Post reports.
Freitag, 25, is accused of stealing drugs from the police property room, planting drugs on innocent people, and stopping motorists without legal basis. He resigned from the Fairfax police in May 2020, shortly after the FBI joined in the investigation, but landed a job with the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office in Florida three months later.
Freitag was fired by the Brevard County Sheriff upon receiving word of the Washington Post’s inquiry into his job status. Prior to his hiring, Freitag submitted a letter from Fairfax County HR, which read, “You resigned from the position in good standing, your employment was entirely favorable and you are eligible for re-hire.” In his three years with Fairfax, Freitag was responsible for 932 cases in which about 400 resulted in convictions.
This investigation was sparked by a case involving former firefighter Elon Wilson, who is currently behind bars for potentially false assault and gun charges brought forth by Freitag. Wilson is the only person serving time for Freitag’s actions.
The ex-cop said he made the arrest in April 2018 after he initially stopped Wilson for crossing over the yellow line while driving and an illegal tint on his windows. Freitag claims he found drugs in Wilson’s car, as well as a gun that Wilson said belonged to a fellow passenger. Wilson ended up taking a plea deal that shaved his sentence down from a possible 10 years to three-and-a-half.
FOX 5 DC reports Freitag later admitted in the department’s internal review that Wilson didn’t cross over the line, and there wasn’t a check regarding the tint of his car windows. Fairfax Circuit County Judge Daniel Ortiz said Friday he was “inclined” to make Wilson a free man.
Freitag allegedly targeted Black people with “potentially racially biased motive and racially biased impact,” Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano said. Fairfax prosecutors allege the former officer “admitted to falsifying information in police records” to police internal affairs investigators, while also confessing to a “third party to engaging in racial profiling in determining which motorists to stop.”
While Freitag has not been formally charged yet, 21 pending cases involving him have been dismissed.