(The real faces of crime)Brooklyn narcotics cops benched over drug and sex for information charges

Brooklyn narcotics cops benched over drug and sex for information charges

By ALISON GENDAR and WILLIAM SHERMAN
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITERS

Tuesday, January 22nd 2008, 4:00 AM

 Lombard for News

Deputy Chief James O’Neill…amd_oneill

 Torrie/News

amd_oconnell…and Inspector James O’Connell are among narcotics bigs reassigned in probe of corruption in Brooklyn South.

 amd_cocaine
M. Roberts for News

(Page 1 of 2)

Heads rolled at the top of the NYPD’s Narcotics Division Monday night after the Daily News learned that 20 cops were benched over charges that undercover officers took sex, drugs and cash from junkies and dealers.

NYPD and law enforcement sources said 15 cops – all from the midnight crew of Brooklyn South Narcotics – have been put on desk duty as part of a five-month investigation by the NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau.

That’s on top of four members of the midnight crew busted on allegations they stole drugs to pay off informants and another who was suspended on undisclosed internal charges, sources told The News.

"No one wanted these guys doing drug cases under this cloud," alaw enforcement source said. The cops make up two full squads of Brooklyn South Narcotics. Detectives from other units have been brought in to take over their cases.

Sources said Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly transferred the commanding officer of citywide narcotics, Deputy Chief James O’Neill; the head of Brooklyn South Narcotics, Inspector James O’Connell, and two Brooklyn South Narcotics captains, John Maldari and Joseph Terranova.

Kelly replaced O’Neill with Deputy Chief Joseph Reznick, the sources said.

Sources said probers are checking to see if:

  • Any of the cops gave confiscated cocaine and heroin to informers for information on other drug dealers.
  • Officers traded drugs for sexual favors with informants and prostitutes.
  • The corrupt tactics permeated the unit.
  • Supervisors knew of the alleged corruption.

"You have a handful of guys basically shaking down drug dealers," one source said. "Given that these officers were not the smartest bulbs in the box, how secret could it have been? Where were the bosses? Asleep? Complicit? Intimidated?"

At the least, it was clear that supervision of the unit was "incredibly sloppy and lax," two high-ranking law enforcement sources said.

One source said Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget Brennan was "fed up" with the work of the unit and was "wary of the cases they develop." Brennan could not be reached.

Dozens of prosecutions – including convictions where dealers are currently serving long sentences – could be compromised or overturned, another source said.

Sources said the corrupt cowboy culture came to light last fall, when undercover Detective Sean Johnstone, 34, forgot he was wearing a wire and bragged to another narcotics cop how he had seized 28 bags of cocaine but turned in only 17.

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