Merino also tried to recruit a confidential informant to traffic drugs with him, according to court documents, and allegedly promised that person law enforcement protection. The documents also show Merino intended to gain citizenship in Mexico as part of a plan to launder drug proceeds.
Kotchkoski made his initial appearance in a virtual hearing in federal court in Columbus on Wednesday afternoon and was ordered held pending a detention hearing Friday afternoon, the Columbus Dispatch reported. Merino, whose initial appearance was Tuesday, was to have a detention hearing Thursday.
“These allegations are beyond disturbing,” Columbus Police Chief Elaine Bryant said in a statement Wednesday. “If proven, such actions would violate the oath our officers take, the standards we must hold ourselves to, and the trust of the public.”
Bryant, who has only been on the job since June, said the two officers have been suspended pending the outcome of the criminal cases.
“I will say it again: when my officers do what’s right, I will always have their back," Bryant said. "When they don’t, they will be held accountable.”
The Fraternal Order of Police Capitol City Lodge #9, a police officers union, said it was aware of the allegations and said that if the allegations are true, “these individuals have no place” in the union or the Columbus police.