A St. Clair County judge on Tuesday sentenced Corey Alberson, a state trooper convicted of performing an illegal strip-search, to one year of court supervision.
Circuit Judge Jan Fiss issued the sentence. On Sept. 15, Fiss found Alberson, 33, of Swansea, guilty of misdemeanor aggravated assault in connection with a strip-search of Anthony Campbell on the side of an East St. Louis street on Jan. 21, 2013.
Prosecutors had asked for a felony conviction, but Fiss downgraded it to a misdemeanor. The class A misdemeanor carried up to a year in prison, probation and a $2,500 fine.
Before Fiss handed down the sentence, Alberson told the court it “was never my intention that night to do something that would lead me to be here. I’ve went out my whole career and tried to do the right thing.”
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I ask myself if I had to do it all over again, would I do the search. And I would. I would do it the same way.
Illinois State Police Trooper Corey Alberson
Alberson, who wore a crisp, black suit with a red and white patterned tie, paused to fight back tears.
“I ask myself if I had to do it all over again, would I do the search?” he said. “And I would. I would do it the same way.”
He said he’s found drugs and weapons in subjects’ pants before and that, had he found something the night he searched Anthony Campbell, he’d have been awarded. “Instead, I’m arrested,” he said.
Based on a tip, Alberson suspected the motorist he searched, Anthony Campbell, had drugs in his possession on Jan. 21, 2013.
During the trial, a video from Alberson’s dash-mounted camera was shown. The video depicted Alberson pulling down Campbell’s pants and shining a flashlight down the front and then the back.
No drugs were located during and after the traffic stop.
The search came to light when ISP Major Christopher Trame conducted a routine review of the dash-cam videos and discovered it. Trame testified during the two-day bench trial last month that he was “shocked” by what he saw and made a complaint.
In addition to conducting the search that got him in trouble, Alberson also did not activate the audio system that would have recorded what he said during the stop. He also did not call the stop in to dispatchers.
This contempt for Illinois State Police policy and the law led (Alberson) to go rogue.
Prosecuting Attorney Jim Piper
Prosecutors called Trame back into court Tuesday, where he noted several instances from November 2010 to March of 2013 where Alberson did not activate his audio recorder or call in stops.
Prosecutors also called ISP Division of Internal Investigations Agent Thomas Hatley to testify. He said Alberson failed to file mandatory stop receipts that record a person’s race, the reason for a stop and other information when an officer takes an enforcement action. Between January 2013 to March 2013, Hatley said, Alberson filed 12 such receipts even though a law enforcement database indicated he’d made 337 traffic stops.
Prosecutor Jim Piper said the “complete violation of policy” was “(Alberson’s) baseline. This contempt for Illinois State Police policy and the law led (Alberson) to go rogue.”
What’s (Alberson) doing out there in the streets? He’s trying to do right.
Defense Attorney John O’Gara
John O’Gara, Alberson’s attorney, said Alberson admits he violated State Police policy. But those policy debates, he said, should be had out when an ISP board decides whether Alberson will be fired, not in court.
O’Gara added that the court examines the facts of the case based on the law, but realities on the street force police officers to face situations differently.
“What’s (Alberson) doing out there in the streets? He’s trying to do right,” O’Gara argued.
Using the law to punish Alberson for policy violations, he said, “doesn’t do society any good.”
Alberson has been on unpaid leave since he was charged.