Secret Video Of THP Officer Leads To Criminal Charges
by Nick Beres
SPRINGFIELD, Tenn. - NewsChannel 5 obtained a copy of secret TBI surveillance video of a Tennessee highway patrol officer. What the hidden camera caught led to the officer's arrest, cost him his job and now could send him to prison.
The criminal trial for Cesar Maldonado started Tuesday in Springfield. He is charged with delivery of drugs and official misconduct.
"This is a very public fall for this particular trooper. A very public fall," said NewsChannel5 legal analyst Nick Leonardo.
The surveillance video will likely be the key piece of evidence for the prosecution. Two hidden cameras recorded Maldonado in a Springfield motel room meeting an alleged prostitute/confidential informant. Prosecutors believe it shows him handing her a bottle of pills. Defense attorneys said the video shows no exchange of drugs.
Maldonado has said he was unfairly set-up.
"I understand how it looks, but there are always two sides to every story," said Maldonado in an interview after his arrest. "It's been completely unfair. A lot of hurt. It's an everyday embarrassment."
In a statement the day after Maldonado's arrest last year the TBI's Kristin Helm said the six-year-veteran had been under investigation.
"We received information he may have been using illegal prescription drugs," said Helm.
The graphic video shows Maldonado, in uniform, meeting with the woman in the hotel room. At one point, she leaves the room and moments later TBI agents burst into the room to arrest Maldonado.
The THP fired Maldonado after his arrest last year. At one time he worked as a K-9 unit officer assigned to sniff out drugs in Robertson County.