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Former officer pleads guilty to selling pills

PORT RICHEY — A former Port Richey police sergeant pleaded guilty Monday to selling more than 1,000 oxycodone pills to a federal informer while on duty.

James Ruland, 33, was arrested in February after trading two bottles of the prescription painkiller with an informer for $5,000, Drug Enforcement Administration agents said.

Ruland, they said, was the target of an ongoing investigation into the illegal pill trade. Ruland met with the informer three times, including Feb. 18, when a surveillance force stationed outside his Spring Hill home recorded Ruland saying he would supply the pills if the informer sold them.

The money was to be a down payment before a future transaction. Ruland was arrested by U.S. Marshals the next day.

Ruland had worked with the Port Richey police for eight years, rising through the ranks to become a detective and sergeant of the 12-officer force. In 2006, he won the agency's Exceptional Service Award for finding a Colorado fugitive. Ruland even served as a chief investigator of internal affairs complaints.

Ruland agreed to a plea deal for distribution of oxycodone and will remain on probation during a pre-sentence investigation.

A federal courts spokesman could not say when Ruland would be sentenced.

Under the maximum sentence, Ruland could face 20 years in prison, a $1 million fine and supervised release of at least three years.

Contact Drew Harwell at dharwell@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6244.

Former officer pleads guilty to selling pills 07/27/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 27, 2010 9:38pm]
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