Deception is especially loathsome when the outlaw engaged in it also wears the badge of a lawman.
The collars of the eight NYPD officers, cuffed last week in a sting operation against a “dirty dozen” ring of alleged smugglers, prove the polluted point.
All of the Brooklyn cops stand accused of abusing their authority by helping to shift more than $1-million worth of guns, slot machines, counterfeit goods and cigarettes across state lines, cockily mocking our conscientious crime-fighting efforts by allegedly directing 20 firearms into the city as recently as Sept. 22, before the law finally caught up with them.
Charged in the case are Officers William Masso, Eddie Goris and John Mahoney of the 68th Precinct, Gary Ortiz of the 71st Precinct in Crown Heights and Ali Oklu of the Brooklyn South Task Force, in addition to retired cops Richard Melnick, Marco Venezia and Joseph Trichitta, New Jersey correction law enforcer David Kanwisher, ex-Sanitation cop Anthony Santiago, and civilians Michael Gee and Eric Gomer.
If they did it, the accused officers clearly must have know that their actions were lawless, but that didn’t stop them from allegedly swindling the public’s trust and lining their pockets, according to a complaint filed in the U.S. District Court in Manhattan.
Cop-community relations are shaky enough without sickening instances of police corruption blighting the finest law enforcement agency in the world while wasting its valuable time on humiliating internal investigations, squandering taxpayer dollars on tedious trials, and making sensational headlines in the nations of our gloating enemies. Moreover, if you can’t trust a police officer, who can you trust?
The brazen case is no isolated incident, either.
Masso and company’s arrests come just weeks after the biggest NYPD embarrassment in more than 20 years in the form of a ticket-fixing scandal, involving more than 500 cops and allegedly spawning from the streets of the Bronx all the way to the hallowed halls of One Police Plaza in Manhattan.
Then, over the summer, cop-turned-hood Jorge Arbaje-Diaz was slapped with 20 years in federal prison for robbing drug dealers and sticking children up at gunpoint as a member of a vicious gang, prompting a tongue-whooping from the disgusted judge, who declared, “You are the poster boy for a sentence that will deter others from the kinds of acts you engaged in.” Right on!
And back in April, veteran Rikers Island correction officer Robert Whitfield was nabbed for agreeing to spring a drug dealer from jail in exchange for cocaine, constituting a double whammy of official misconduct for allegedly soliciting bribes from an inmate while collecting payment in drugs.
It stands to reason that no amount of vetting can fully reveal a person’s compunction for breaking the law, but most shocking of all about NYPD’s growing gallery of rogues is that some of the suspects had decades on the force, raising questions about other undiscovered crimes they may have committed on the job.
Cops who betray their badges for personal profit are among the worst types of offenders around. The guilty ones should have the book of justice tossed at them for deceiving the public and dishonoring those police officers who are actually committed to upholding the law.