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'Norfolk 4' homicide detective indicted for extortion

The homicide detective at the heart of the controversial "Norfolk 4" case, which involved four sailors who claimed they were coerced into falsely confessing to rape and murder, has been arrested and charged in federal court in Norfolk with taking money from criminal suspects in exchange for lying on their behalf to prosecutors and even to a judge in court.

R. Glenn Ford, 56, was brought into the July 1997 murder of 19-year-old Michelle Moore Bosko to interrogate one of Bosko's neighbors as a suspect. That neighbor eventually confessed, but had many of his facts wrong.

When DNA later cleared that man, Ford didn't release him. He went back and got more names from the man, then got rape and murder confessions from them. All four would soon recant and claim they never touched Bosko, but three of the four wound up with life sentences.

Top lawyers from several large East Coast law firms took up the case and alleged that Ford had used various psychological pressures to coax factually vague statements about killing Bosko from the men.

Another, unrelated man was linked by DNA to the rape and murder, and he said he acted alone. Ford and Norfolk authorities didn't believe he acted alone, and fought to keep the "Norfolk 4" in prison.

Last year, after 11 years in prison -- one sailor was released after serving 8 1/2 years for rape only -- then-Gov. Tim Kaine ordered the men released.

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Ford retired from the Norfolk police three years ago and always denied coercing any confessions. But while the Norfolk 4 were attracting national media attention, and wallowing in prison, federal authorities believe Ford was using an intermediary to extort money from seven different criminal defendants.

According to an indictment unsealed Monday in Norfolk, after Ford surrendered to the FBI, Ford used an intermediary to receive payments of undisclosed amounts in exchange for telling a prosecutor that they had provided important information in a murder case.

Those backroom conversations can be valuable for defendants, because prosecutors and judges look kindly on cooperating witnesses, and often lighten their sentences.

In one case in 2007, the indictment states, Ford went to a sentencing hearing in Portsmouth Circuit Court for "T.S." and falsely testified under oath that T.S. had provided help in a homicide investigation in Norfolk.

Ford is charged with conspiracy to commit extortion, extortion of three of the defendants, and making false statements for allegedly lying to FBI agents when they confronted him about the various false statements. In addition, prosecutors are asking the court to forfeit any of Ford's property that can be traced to his criminal proceeds, which may indicate that substantial sums were involved.

Ford's lawyer, Lawrence H. Woodward Jr., told the Virginian-Pilot: "We're not happy that he got indicted...He looks forward to having a chance in front of a jury to clear his name."

-- Tom Jackman

By Washington Post Editors  |  May 12, 2010; 3:10 PM ET
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