4:17 pm Oct. 25, 20111
This morning, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the city police department's Internal Affairs Bureau drew the net in on a two-year-long sting operation, making 12 arrests.
A press release from the New York Field Office of the F.B.I. distributed earlier this afternoon was titled: "Eight Active and Retired NYPD Officers and Four Others Charged in Manhattan Federal Court with Conspiring to Distribute Firearms, Stolen Goods, or Both."
Here was the subtitle: "Charges Include Conspiring to Distribute M-16 Rifles and Handguns with Altered Serial Numbers; Defendants Received Over $100,000 in Cash Payments for Their Alleged Participation in the Schemes."
The announcement was made jointly by three key law enforcement figures, in this order: "PREET BHARARA, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, JANICE K. FEDARCYK, the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation ('FBI'), and RAYMOND W. KELLY, the Police Commissioner of the City of New York (“NYPD”)."
It's important to note that the operation was a sting orchestrated by the NYPD's Internal Affairs Bureau and the F.B.I.
After the usual paragraphs laying out the charges against the defendants, and another one naming each of them in capital letters, the release generally sticks to the format, with long quotes from each of the "announcers."
Bharara's statement starts things off and includes the line: "I am proud to work with a police department that has the courage to police itself, as is it has shown today."
Fedarcyk's comes next; she points out, for the first time in the release: "This morning’s arrests are the culmination of a long-term undercover investigation that began in 2009."
Kelly's comes last, and is reproduced here in its entirety:
"I want to commend the U.S. Attorney and the FBI who, together with the NYPD Internal Affairs Bureau, today arrested a dozen individuals, five of them police officers, who believed they were helping to transport stolen goods, as well as firearms. The fact that the goods really weren’t stolen and the guns didn’t work doesn’t lessen culpability, especially for those who had sworn an oath to uphold the law. The most disturbing aspect of this sting was that, according to the Complaint, William Masso actually saw what he must have certainly believed were functioning guns. He had no way of knowing that the guns to be transported had been rendered inoperable. It was a betrayal of the highest order of an officer’s oath."
Some notes: Preet Bharara's "eight active and retired" NYPD officers and "four others" become Ray Kelly's "dozen individuals, five of them police officers."
The "long-term undercover investigation" means, to Kelly, that "the goods really weren’t stolen and the guns didn’t work," though he does assure us that that "doesn’t lessen culpability, especially for those who had sworn an oath to uphold the law."
Where Fedarcyk tells us "These crimes are without question, reprehensible, particularly conspiring to import untraceable guns and assault rifles into New York," Kelly seems hung up on the fact that in at least in the case of one defendant, it's clear he really thought they were operable guns. "He had no way of knowing," Kelly points out, that they were in fact FBI toys.
Near the end is the line: "Mr. BHARARA praised the investigative work of the FBI and the Internal Affairs Bureau of the NYPD."
Further reading: In New York, a Turf War in the Battle Gainst Terrorism, Washington Post, 2008.