Pontiac — A former member of the Oakland County Narcotics Enforcement Team resigned after a woman he helped send to prison in a historic drug bust disclosed that she had a five-year sexual relationship with him while on federal bond and parole, according to sheriff’s office memos obtained by The Detroit News.
The officer, Sgt. Douglas Stewart, even drove the woman, Rachel Bais-Torres, to a federal prison in 2014 to start her five-year, seven-month sentence after they vacationed together in Florida, she told investigators. She was released to a halfway house in July 2016.
According to the memos, Bais-Torres told sheriff’s investigators she “loved” Stewart and thought he “loved her also.”
But their alleged relationship soured this year when the ex-convict learned Stewart was married and his wife threatened to contact her parole officer, Bais-Torres said in an interview with The Detroit News. Fearing she would be sent back to prison, she contacted the sheriff’s office and told them about the affair, according to the memos.
“I don’t know if I still love him,” Bais-Torres said. “I guess I feel sorry for him. He is someone who has made a practice of lying to women — lying to everyone — to get what he wants.”
Efforts to reach Stewart, 55, were unsuccessful. Messages were left with several attorneys he has worked with over the years, with an ex-wife who declined comment, and at his union office.
Bais-Torres, now 47, was one of nine people arrested in August 2011 in Pontiac in what was described at the time as the largest heroin operation in Michigan history, in which more than 69 kilograms of heroin and 10 kilograms of cocaine were seized, with a street value of more than $150 million. Police also confiscated more than $566,000 in cash.
Beneath the drugs and cash was a taboo relationship between a law enforcement officer and a defendant, according to the memos. The odd pairing has since drawn suspicion that Stewart — while not breaking any laws, authorities say — may have abused his badge and her trust for sex and information. And that she, in turn, received preferential treatment and fewer days behind bars for her cooperation.
“It’s bizarre, it’s corrupt and it’s a part of our justice system that is seldom talked about,” said Derrick George, her attorney. “He groomed her, and he kept in contact with her even when she was in prison. This is outrageous conduct for a police officer.”
The revelation of the alleged relationship led Oakland County and federal authorities to review cases Stewart handled for the sheriff’s office and the drug task force. Both the county and the Drug Enforcement Administration say they found no evidence that any of the cases he investigated were compromised.
“We looked at his cases and found nothing improper,” said Paul Walton, Oakland County’s chief deputy prosecutor. “We also determined that his behavior in this matter did not violate any state laws. The woman said she was not coerced and events occurred while she was out on bond, not incarcerated. She was not his prisoner or under his control.”
Timothy Plancon, special agent in charge of the DEA’s office in Detroit, said the cases Stewart investigated for his agency were solid.
“There have been no problems associated with any of his cases, past or current.”
Following her arrest, Bais-Torres was instructed to report to the supervising officer in the Pontiac bust, Stewart. At the time, he was a 14-year veteran and sergeant with the Oakland County Sheriff Office’s NET group on loan to a Drug Enforcement Administration task force.
In an interview with The Detroit News, Bais-Torres said a few months after she was arraigned on the charges, Stewart called up and wished her a happy birthday.
“I had reported in to him on a regular basis, but now things began to get personal,” she said.
In December 2011, Bais-Torres was charged in federal court with being part of the drug conspiracy. In the following spring and summer, she began a sexual relationship with Stewart, she told the sheriff’s office.
In 2014, she pleaded guilty to trafficking 32 kilograms of heroin. Her sentencing guidelines called for her to serve between 168 and 210 months, but at sentencing, the government moved for a reduction to reflect her “substantial assistance” in the case.
The government recommended a range of 67-84 months. Judge John Corbett O’Meara agreed and sentenced her to 67 months.
Bais-Torres never had to testify because, like others in the case, her attorney worked out a plea agreement. She told The News that Stewart coached her on some background she should provide regarding how she cooperated with authorities.
“He cried when he heard I was to get over five years,” she said. “I told him I would only do about half of that. And did.”
Bais-Torres was subsequently driven to a federal prison in West Virginia by Stewart — but first, the pair took a vacation to Deerfield Beach, Florida, she said in her initial complaint to the sheriff’s office. She said during their relationship, she had introduced him to her family and had met some of his relatives. She felt marriage was in the future.
She said Stewart continued to communicate with her in prison, writing letters and sending her $400 every couple of weeks by Western Union for her personal inmate account.
About the same time, Stewart was poised to divorce his second wife, whom he married in 2011, according to court records.
The divorce was finalized in October 2014, and Stewart soon married another woman.
In July 2016, Bais-Torres was released from prison, went into a halfway house for six months, bought a trailer in Oakland County and “the affair rekindled,” according to an internal memo sent by the sheriff’s Special Investigation Unit to Sheriff Michael Bouchard.
Their once- or twice-a-week trysts occurred “mostly” at a hotel where Bais-Torres would pay for a room by credit card and Stewart would reimburse her with cash, according to the memo, which says the affair lasted about eight months until about November 2017.
Bais-Torres had come to mistrust Stewart, and at one point went to Stewart’s home address and confronted him on the doorstep about lying to her about getting married. Stewart told her to leave and threatened to call the police, according to the memo.
Stewart alerted his third wife to the confrontation, and she contacted Bais-Torres by text on Feb. 7, warning her to stay away from her husband and their home, according to the memo.
The wife allegedly also told Bais-Torres she was going to call the ex-inmate’s parole officer and try to get her “violated” — found in violation of parole conditions — which could mean a return to prison. Bais-Torres called her parole agent, who advised her to contact the sheriff’s office and make a full report, according to the memo. On Feb. 8, she did.
Stewart, who was paid $81,000 a year, resigned Feb. 12, according to a sheriff’s office document.
At one point in their relationship, Bais-Torres told The News, Stewart pulled out his gun and told her to never tell anyone about their relationship “or he would kill himself.”
Bais-Torres said she received texts from Stewart’s second wife and from his current wife that they would contact her parole officer if she didn’t stay away from him.
“I’m not a vindictive person,” she said. “The only reason I went to authorities about him is because I thought I was in trouble and might be sent back to prison.”
On Feb. 16, Bais-Torres went to the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office to file a criminal complaint against Stewart, according to another internal memo. But Bais-Torres stressed she was not coerced by Stewart to have sex and eventually decided not to continue with the complaint.
Plancon said if Stewart had been one of his DEA agents, he would have faced disciplinary action for having a relationship with a known felon.
“Something like that is inappropriate,” he said.
Oakland County Undersheriff Michael McCabe said Stewart — once considered a “superstar” in the department because of his work on drug cases — was called to appear before internal affairs officers because of the seriousness of the allegations.
“He resigned on his own, but it’s not a stretch that he figured he would have been fired,” said McCabe. “He disgraced the badge and this department. His behavior was in violation of department rules, reprehensible and inexcusable.”
On May 1, Stewart filed a motion in Oakland Circuit Court seeking a reduction in $1,500-monthly spousal support he has been paying his first wife since their July 2009 divorce. The reason: he “was forced to taken an unforeseen early retirement.”
As for Bais-Torres, she said she works with people recovering from mental health and substance abuse problems and is focusing on moving forward with her life.
“I had time to think. I had therapy. I decided to turn my life around,” she said.