Former Columbus narcotics cop admits selling cocaine, fentanyl, will surrender over $500K – The Columbus Dispatch
A former Columbus police narcotics detective admitted Friday to conspiring to trafficking cocaine and fentanyl and will surrender more than $500,000 that he made through his illegal dealings.
John Kotchkoski, 33, of Marengo, Morrow County, entered a guilty plea in U.S. District Court in Columbus to a single count of conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute 400 grams or more of fentanyl. He faces a minimum sentence of 10 years in prison up to a potential life sentence.
Kotchkoski and another former Columbus police narcotics detective, Marco Merino, 44, were arrested in August after they had attempted to sell eight kilograms of fentanyl to an undercover FBI agent they thought was a confidential informant.
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Merino plead guilty in March to charges that he accepted bribes and conspiring to distribute fentanyl as part of a plea agreement.
Kotchkoski entered a similar plea agreement on Friday. As part of that agreement, Kotchkoski will surrender a 2016 Cadillac Escalade, a 2021 Chevy Corvette, more than $500,000 in cash and 21 firearms, as well as various firearms accessories and ammunition. All of the property and money being seized were the proceeds of the drug transactions, according to court records.
Court records say the $500,000 and property are a “conservative estimate” of Kotchkoski’s illegal profits.
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Kotchkoski admitted to providing 40 kilograms of cocaine to a confidential informant between June and September of 2021 and keeping the majority of the proceeds of those sales, according to court records.
Kotchkoski also asked the same confidential informant to sell 10 kilograms of fentanyl, but the informant declined, court records said. That fentanyl was then given to Merino, who arranged with the undercover FBI agent he believed to be an informant to distribute those drugs.
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Kotchkoski and Merino, who graduated from the Columbus police academy together, also worked together to protect what they believed were transports of cocaine on multiple occasions, according to court records.
Following Merino’s arrest, he placed a controlled call to Kotchkoski, during which court records state Kotchkoski told Merino that Merino’s wife and children would be killed if Merino spoke to law enforcement.
Kotchkoski was fired from Columbus police following his arrest.
Both Merino and Kotchkoski remain in custody and will be sentenced at a later date.