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Ex-officer sentenced in ecstasy deal

Matthew Campbell used to enforce the law. On Monday, he was sentenced to 70 months behind bars for breaking it.

The former Tampa police officer pleaded guilty last year to retrieving 1,000 tablets of ecstasy from a car impounded after an arrest and returning the pills to the suspect.

Campbell, 27, was arrested near his Seminole Heights home in December 2001 and charged with conspiracy and possession of ecstasy with intent to distribute.

According to a criminal complaint, a confidential source told U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration Agent Adrian Chindgren and Florida Department of Law Enforcement Agent Rick Swearingen that he knew of a man who stashed 1,000 tablets of ecstasy in the console of a 1995 Ford Mustang before it was impounded during an arrest.

The man who had been arrested had called Campbell, whom he knew from working security in Ybor City, and asked if he could get into the impound lot and retrieve the ecstasy, according to court records.

Campbell agreed, in exchange for 10 bottles of the anabolic steroid Deca, the records said.

On Dec. 18, 2000, Campbell met with the man and exchanged the ecstasy for the steroids, according to court records. Another police officer was with Campbell, the records said.

In an earlier sting operation on May 25 at the Groovy Mule Bottle Club, Campbell also helped an undercover federal agent buy a tablet of ecstasy, records stated.

Campbell, whose salary as an officer was about $38,000, was suspended with pay May 25, then suspended without pay June 27. He joined the department in August 1998, and his evaluations had been satisfactory.

TPD, the FBI and the federal Drug Enforcement Administration investigated the case, which was prosecuted in federal court.

_ Information from Times archives was used in this report.