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iEntrapment: Teen claims cops tricked him into buying stolen smart phone

for The Brooklyn Paper
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A Dyker Heights college freshman claims that cops tricked him into breaking the law during a massive citywide iPhone sting that nabbed more than 40 Brooklynites — and now the teen’s father wants to sue the city.

A man working with police lied to 19-year-old Rob Tester about a “stolen” iPhone he was selling, then cops arrested Tester for theft when he bought it, claims the teen’s father, who says police entrapped his kid by using a sob story about not having enough money for Christmas.

Tester says the NYPD operative ambushed him when he left McKinley Park Library on Fort Hamilton Parkway last Wednesday and was duped into paying $20 for an iPhone he didn’t want — which the man claimed he bought legally.

The Manhattan Borough Community College student said the peddler ignored his refusals, claiming that he didn’t have enough money to feed his daughter on Christmas. After several tries, the informant eventually persuaded Tester to buy the smartphone, which retails for $200 and up.

“He was really persistent, I felt sympathy,” Tester said.

Once he forked over the money, four cops rushed up to cuff him, according to Tester, who spent the next 26 hours locked up in central booking.

Tester was one of 141 suspects arrested for possession of stolen items during these citywide NYPD stings. Most of the arrests took place at convenience stores, newsstands, delis, barber shops and other business — including nine in Bensonhurst, six in Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights, two in Flatlands, and six in Williamsburg. Police say the operation was one of its finest hours, and that the suspects were well aware that they were buying pinched merchandise.

“They were clearly told the items were stolen as the reason for them being offered for sale so cheaply,” said NYPD spokesman Paul Browne.

But an employee at an 86th Street newsstand backs Tester’s story. The man, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said cops snagged another man in front of a nearby store under similarly dubious circumstances.

“[The guy working with police] never said it was a stolen phone, he said that he bought it from an Apple store the day before, but now he needed the money for his wife,” the newsstand clerk said.

Tester’s irate father said he has hired a lawyer to sue the city for making an illegal arrest.

“[The cops] need to understand that they can’t do this, they should be losing their badges,” Robert Tester Sr. fumed.

Matthew Galluzzo, Tester’s layer, said the 19-year-old would not have broken the law if the cops didn’t trick him into doing so.

“If a police officer comes up and says, ‘I own this thing,’ that is not stolen, you don’t have a right to arrest that person,” said Galluzzo. “It’s entrapment.”

Cops shrugged off Tester’s claims, but his arrest has steamed at least one area pol: Councilman Vincent Gentile (D–Bay Ridge) immediately fired off a letter to Commissioner Ray Kelly demanding action.

“Trying to root out merchants who are known dealers in stolen electronics is one matter,” he wrote in the letter dated Dec. 22. “Luring unsuspecting and otherwise law-abiding teenagers to ‘buy’ goods from undercover officers is another matter entirely.”

Reach reporter Dan MacLeod at dmacleod@cnglocal.com or by calling him at (718) 260-4507. You can also follow his Tweets at twitter.com/dsmacleod.

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Reader Feedback

Jay from Bay Ridge says:
the NYPD should open a phantom store to buy and sell stolen iPhones.
Dec. 28, 2011, 9:34 am
Sam from Bk says:
Lesson learned. Don't buy stolen stuff from preps. Get over it kid. You made a bad choice. No ones fault but your own.
Dec. 28, 2011, 11:11 am
Jim from Cobble Hill says:
At least Patrick Pogan didn't kick him down then stick a plunger up his ass and then shoot him 41 times and then have him beaten with a metal baton in front of the Manhattan Bridge. I wouldn't believe the police for one second if I were on that jury.
Dec. 28, 2011, 11:20 am
Ken from Greenpoint says:
Jim from Cobble Hill.. you sound a very depress person probably with out a job...get a real life will ya??? this kid looks like he still smells from drugs....
Dec. 28, 2011, 1:08 pm
R. Kelly from Yo mommas house says:
anyone else here wonder if Ken is a cop?

/nice try nypd
Dec. 28, 2011, 1:27 pm
Frank says:
Yeah he definitely smells like one. The real deal is that the kid has a witness, who apparently doesn't know the kid and has nothing to gain, who corroborates his story. I hope this guy sues the S*#h out of them. Seems like the cops think they own the world so they can do whatever they want and don't get me started on the cell phone stuff. I think the police's time might better spent in the neighborhoods where the REAL crime is. Not Dyker Hgts., Bay Ridge. which Of course you know is where the worst criminals are.
Dec. 28, 2011, 4:23 pm
David from Clinton hill says:
would you try to put your life on the line just for one day? i don't think so....guys: need respect give respect... that's all i have to say..
Dec. 28, 2011, 4:28 pm
Ken Carter from Bay Ridge says:
Serves him right, he should be locked up for a "total lack of common sense"-- no one sells a $300 I-phone for $20, and cuts their loses; a 19 yr. old kid should have known better.Grow up... As WC Fields says"theres a sucker born every minute ! Throw out the lawsuit as frivalous and a waste of good taxpayers money and time; good work by the NYPD !!!
Dec. 28, 2011, 5:44 pm
Lazy Cop from Precinct says:
Glad to see the NYPD are cracking down on such heinous crimes. Did they ever catch the serial groper(s) in south slope?
Dec. 28, 2011, 7:18 pm
Anna from Bay Ridge says:
This kid is a college freshman. Does anyone know the cost of books are these days for college kids? I am sure he would rather have put the money towards his education rather than an iphone. I am not critizing the NYPD, but believe they should focus on the subways where the real crime takes place and leave the college students alone.
Dec. 28, 2011, 8:45 pm
Jay from Bay Ridge says:
pawn shops in the city probably give an iPhone a higher value than $20.
Dec. 28, 2011, 8:55 pm
Duff from BKHeights says:
Yeah that sting has been around, just new bait, & an idiot 19 year old. I feel this sting wasn't ment for this kinda person; the kid probably has no rap sheet. 1st time affender. NYPD sets these things up to nab all your bail jumpers, parole violators ect..although what I hate is the city is Known!, for arresting 1st ask questions later! NYPD used to call it a scooping. Had an aunt that was chief at Columbus Circle precinct. Kids father better school him fast, & too he's freaking 19 kid grow up or use your Nikes!
Dec. 29, 2011, 9:56 am
Person from Brooklyn says:
Though I think the sting (or whatever you call it) is a good idea, in this case it was very poorly executed. The fact that the phone was only 20 dollars does not in any way make it stolen. This officer simply had to imply that it was stolen, but couldn't even do that properly; and whiteness testimony will support that. Now being arrested in public is humiliating and dehumanizing, you are restrained like a dog and thrown in a cage. Don't get me wrong, I feel criminal have it coming to them, but for an otherwise law abiding citizen, it is an unforgivable injustice, and if anybody disagree just imagine it happening to your mother, pissed off yet? Let it marinate. I agree he should sue the pants off the department because that is the only way a mere citizen can fight back and stick it to a gun tooting cowboy; There needs to be strong enough deterrents otherwise the shenanigans will continue, at the price of the people . Officer involved should be severely punished, I simply believe in praise for good and swift harsh punishment for bad.
Dec. 29, 2011, 11:56 am
Charles from Bklyn says:
This crime fighting? method of seeking random citizens to arrest for possession of stolen goods seems to be a waste of time and resources. I assume the politics against this type of police action will cease it's use fairly soon. The test of discretion for the police should be to target serious criminal activities detrimental to our society. Buying a phone on the street from a stranger is not top on the priority list. However, if the police do not have more important crimes to allocate officers, perhaps it's time to reduce the force further. Hate to see this happen, but we could use more teachers ... maybe they could teach about the law and receiving stolen goods.
Dec. 29, 2011, 12:09 pm
Zee from FrtHmltn Pkwy says:
it's near my building =(((
Dec. 29, 2011, 12:10 pm
Person from Brooklyn says:
Good point Charles, it does seem like a waste of tax payers money. I think those plane clothes detectives need to be patroling the housing projects and low income areas, seeing as those areas are most plagued with crime.
Dec. 29, 2011, 12:28 pm
JR from bay ridge says:
That kid must be the dumbest 19-year-old in Brooklyn if he didn't suspect the iPhone was probably stolen. Nobody and I mean nobody resells an iPhone for 20 bucks.

And that undercover cop doesn't sound like the sharpest knife in the drawer either. Who was the genius at the NYPD who came up with this sting to target random individuals?
Dec. 29, 2011, 12:58 pm
canarsi man from canarsi says:
how much did it cost the city to run this elaborate operation? Maybe they should have donated that money and their time to help feed some hungry, homeless people during the holidays. NOW that would have been some operation!!!!!
Dec. 30, 2011, 9:56 pm
John John says:
I hear there are more where this kid came from. 2 other victims have come forward with a similar story...
Dec. 30, 2011, 11:58 pm
OrlyRad from Sunset Park says:
As a young skinny adult, if some big man approached me about him selling me an item at a discount price. I would pay no attention; but, if he stepped into my space and said:
"Yo! Yo! Yo! I got this stolen phone for $20. This is a deal you can't refuse, you understand what I am talking about kid?"
Jan. 2, 2012, 5:29 am
OrlyRad from Sunset Park says:
CONTINUED from above

I would "purchase" the phone after being gently persuaded, for fear of being turned into a bloody robbery victim.

Same game the cops are playing with this Mr. Tester.

Are these cops from the same "elite" unit that was caught planting drugs on citizens and then arresting them?
Jan. 2, 2012, 5:47 am
Tony S. from Bensonhurst says:
I saw this kid and his father on a Ch. 4 news story last week, and I think they are both con men , looking to sue the city and make money! The kid looks like a real Zero and a drug addict, who was prob. trying to get in on a stolen I-phone, then re-sell it himself for cash to get "high'- but got caught ! His old man looks like a dishelved jerk, who is trying to make a dishonest buck off of his sons stupidity. Time to put this story to rest, Move On, and tell these 2 idiots to get a life, and jobs !!!
Jan. 3, 2012, 10:47 am
Jon from Bay Ridge says:
There is a lot of talk on the air and in the press about the iphone arrests in Brooklyn last month, in reading some of these comments they are totally off base. We know the Tester family, My wife and I grew up with Robert’s parents, they are very good hardworking, intelligent and caring people, and loving parents. My wife and I were impressed by Bobby and Nancy Tester eldest son Robert, quiet, smart, caring, outgoing, and well read, he was truly a pleasure to work with around Bravo. In many ways he resembles his parents when they were his age.
Both parents had a strong pull toward community service and tolerance toward other people growing up. Nancy was a quiet, similar to her son, knowing her was a pleasure, she was beautiful and shy very outgoing and extremely organized as a board leader during her years in BRAVO.
Robert’s father, better known to us as Bobby was a great friend and a leader, he commanded your attention when he walked into a room. Like their son, Bobby and Nancy were driven to succeed by helping others, instilled in Bobby was a strong sense of right and wrong, he was an Eagle Scout, very idealistic, and deeply involved in the community.
It is this part of each other that they must have instilled to their child that placed their son in such peril on that day, he was clearly used by the police, his sense of caring for others became his crime, all the things that made up his parents fabric didn’t matter, the police saw him as just another number to make their tally’s for the day, my wife and I hope that the family recovers and young Robert’s story gets out and more people come forward and tell their story, no one should ever be arrested for doing the right thing and helping someone they felt was in need.
Jan. 3, 2012, 12:44 pm
JOHNNYBOY from WINDSOR TERRACE says:
It's obvious the cops were testing Tester and he failed the test.So lets not get testy about it.
Jan. 5, 2012, 1:31 pm
Ray Smelly from Flatlands says:
Ray kelly is a corrupt senile idiot and it's time for him to pack his bags and go! This is the same as the BS wallet scam the cops were pulling until a judge told them to stop. Entrapment plain and simple. If I ever see cops pulling this garbage, I will stop them. This is still America and in the ords of the immortal NWA "F^*K THA POLICE"
Jan. 10, 2012, 5:27 pm
Ray Smelly from Flatlands says:
True story. I had some big guy walk up to me at Penn Station. he asked me to hold a bag for him. I told him no. he practically pushed it into my hands and said "Cmon, just a minute" I told him "get the eff out of here and leave me alone". He walked away and I followed him because I knew he was up to no good. He walked over to a hispanic woman and said "I can't get anyone to hold it" and then they walked away together. F%^&K THA POLICE
Jan. 10, 2012, 5:34 pm
Austin from Midwood says:
Cops are to be distrusted! The notion we were taught when I was a kid to "trust a cop" no longer holds true. This was truly entrapment. I hope the victim(s) of this sue the city for millions. (We may have to cut some salaries- maybe fire all the street cleaners -whose trucks do nothing to clean the streets.)
These cops are cowards and a disgrace... best of luck to this family in this lawsuit... I hope you bring the city to its knees!
Jan. 12, 2012, 9:54 pm

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