Joe Bini's Squalorous Fall

Maybe it was all a misunderstanding. Like the bad address on the search warrant. Like the dead Mexican. But Joseph Bini, the former drug warrior who orchestrated a disastrous no-knock raid nine years ago that still haunts the Denver Police Department, is back on the wrong side of the headlines.

Bini, 39, was arrested June 2 after a female juvenile reported being sexually assaulted at the GNC store in the Denver Pavilions. According to KCNC, Bini allegedly paid two underage girls twenty bucks to have sex in his wife's store while he watched.

Put aside, for the moment, the obvious questions here -- how one satisfies voyeuristic urges in the vitamin aisle, how desperate the girls must have been for a little spending money. The real question is: How low can Joe go?

A decade ago, Bini was a gung-ho Denver cop, utilizing hinky informants to rack up street-level crack busts in bad neighborhoods. But in 1999, he was charged with perjury after putting bad information on a search warrant that sent a SWAT team into the wrong house in the 3700 block of High Street. Ismael Mena, a Mexican national who worked at a bottling plant, was killed by officers after he reportedly refused to put down a weapon. The shooting led to new restrictions in Denver on no-knock raids; our exclusive chat with Bini's informant indicated that Bini fudged several aspects of the warrant to make it seem like he'd witnessed a drug buy at Mena's residence when it actually took place in an alley, with unidentified dealers who lived in another house.

Bini ended up pleading to a misdemeanor and was back on the force a year later. By the time a documentary about the case surfaced last year, he was back under investigation for supposedly helping himself to an $88 carpet at the Pavilions. But that incident led to no charges, and Bini retired from the force a few months ago for medical reasons — only to be picked up by his former brothers in blue over possible "child enticement" and unlawful sexual contact.

And so it goes. Joe Bini wanted to clean up the streets. But these days the cleanup is in aisle two, and the hot mess in question is Bini himself. –- Alan Prendergast

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