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Posted: 6/13/2009 1:50:34 PM EST


Drug suspect turns tables on NYPD with videotape

Saturday, June 13, 2009 5:49:05 PM
By TOM HAYS and COLLEEN LONG

When undercover detectives busted Jose and Maximo Colon last year for selling cocaine at a seedy club in Queens, there was a glaring problem: The brothers hadn't done anything wrong.

But proclaiming innocence wasn't going to be good enough. The Dominican immigrants needed proof.

"I sat in the jail and thought ... how could I prove this? What could I do?" Jose, 24, recalled in Spanish during a recent interview.

As he glanced around a holding cell, the answer came to him: Security cameras. Since then, a vindicating video from the club's cameras has spared the brothers a possible prison term, resulted in two officers' arrest and become the basis for a multimillion-dollar lawsuit.

The officers, who are due back in court June 26, have pleaded not guilty, and New York Police Department officials have downplayed their case.

But the drug corruption case isn't alone.

On May 13, another NYPD officer was arrested for plotting to invade a Manhattan apartment where he hoped to steal $900,000 in drug money. In another pending case, prosecutors in Brooklyn say officers were caught in a 2007 sting using seized drugs to reward a snitch for information. And in the Bronx, prosecutors have charged a detective with lying about a drug bust captured on a surveillance tape that contradicts her story.

Elsewhere, Philadelphia prosecutors dismissed more than a dozen drug and gun charges against a man last month when a narcotics officer was accused of making up information on search warrants.

The revelations in New York have triggered internal affairs inquiries, transfers of commanders and reviews of dozens of other arrests involving the accused officers. Many drug defendants' cases have been tossed out. Others have won favorable plea deals.

The misconduct "strikes at the very heart of our system of justice and erodes public confidence in our courts," said Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson.

Despite the fallout, authorities describe the corruption allegations as aberrations in a city where officers daily make hundreds of drugs arrests that routinely hold up in court. They also note none of the cases involved accusations of organized crews of officers using their badges to steal or extort drugs or money for personal gain –– the story line of full-blown corruption scandals from bygone eras.

Peter Moskos, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, agrees the majority of narcotics officers probably are clean. But he also believes the city's unending war on drugs will always invite corruption by some who don't think twice about framing suspects they're convinced are guilty anyway.

"Drugs are a dirty game," Moskos said. "Once you realize it's a game, then you start playing with the rules to win the game."

Just ask the Colon brothers.

––––––

The brothers' evening started much like any other.

Max's friend worked at a bodega down the street from Delicias de Mi Tierra, where they'd sometimes drink and play pool in the evenings. This night, the pool table was closed. They instead sat at the bar. Security cameras ended up filming their every move.

The brothers barely moved from the same spot for about 90 minutes as the undercovers entered the bar and mixed with the crowd. Moments after the officers left, a backup team barged in and grabbed six men, including the brothers.

Paperwork signed by "UC 13200" –– Officer Henry Tavarez –– claimed that he told a patron he wanted to buy cocaine. By his account, that man responded by approaching the 28-year-old Max, who then went over to the undercover and demanded to pat him down to make sure he wasn't wearing a wire.

Max collected $100 from Tavarez, the report said. The officer claimed to see two bags of cocaine pass through the hands of three men, including Jose, before they were given to him.

Jose was released after a court appearance. His brother was shipped off to Riker's Island until he could make bail.

"I was scared," Max said of his time at Rikers. "I don't get into trouble, and here I am with real criminals."

––––––

The moment Jose walked out of the holding cell, he made a beeline for Delicias and asked for a copy of the security tapes from the night they were arrested, Jan. 4, 2008.

"I knew it would be the only way to defend myself, because I knew the police would not believe me," he said.

The owner of Delicias queued up the tapes and the two waded through an entire day's worth of surveillance –– until they found the two hours the men spent in the club that night –– supposedly selling drugs.

Jose quickly got the tape to defense attorney Rochelle Berliner, a former narcotics prosecutor. She couldn't believe what she was seeing.

"I almost threw up," she said. "Because I must've prosecuted 1,500, 2,000 drug cases ... and all felonies. And I think back, Oh my God, I believed everything everyone told me. Maybe a handful of times did something not sound right to me. I don't mean to sound overly dramatic but I was like, sick."

What the tape doesn't show is striking: At no point did the officers interact with the undercovers, nor did the brothers appear to be involved in a drug deal with anyone else. Adding insult to injury, an outside camera taped the undercovers literally dancing down the street.

Berliner handed the tape over to the District Attorney's integrity unit. It reviewed the images more than 100 times to make sure it wasn't doctored by the defense before deciding to drop all charges against the brothers in June.

Six months later, Officer Tavarez and Detective Stephen Anderson pleaded not guilty to drug dealing and multiple other charges that their lawyers say were overblown.

Anderson's attorney has described him as a seasoned investigator who had no reason to make a false arrest. Tavarez, his attorney said, was a novice undercover merely along for the ride.

––––––

Life quickly deteriorated for Max and Jose after their arrest.

They owned a successful convenience store in Jackson Heights, but lost their license to sell tobacco, alcohol and lottery tickets. The store closed a week before their case was dismissed.

"My life changed completely," Jose said. "I had a life before, and I have a different existence now. ... Now, I'm not able to afford to live in my own house or care for my children."

Jose has found construction work, while Max commutes two hours to Philadelphia to work at a relative's bodega. They stay away from the old neighborhood, where they say ugly rumors about them persist.

The brothers have filed a $10 million false arrest lawsuit against the police department, the officers involved and the city.

"I'm angry because, why'd it happen to me? I know a lot of people ... they don't go the right way and they can get away with it," Max said. "I'm young and I try to go the right way and boom, this happened to me. So I'm angry with life, too."

Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press.

Link Posted: 6/13/2009 1:52:41 PM EST
Completely isolated incident.
Link Posted: 6/13/2009 2:05:31 PM EST
I hope those officers get to spend many years in gen pop.
Link Posted: 6/13/2009 2:08:57 PM EST
So two guys walk into a bar...

This could happen to anybody. If me and my brother were in this situation, I'd bring the suit too... unless my brother beat me to it.

Wow... just wow. I know I shouldn't be surprised, but I am.
Link Posted: 6/13/2009 2:10:20 PM EST
Originally Posted By pighelmet:
Completely isolated incident.



more and more all the time...


Link Posted: 6/13/2009 2:10:59 PM EST
And the WOD continues unabated, forever....................and ever..............................and ever...........................and ever...................................................................................................................................................
Link Posted: 6/13/2009 2:11:14 PM EST
Originally Posted By Sykkone:
So two guys walk into a bar...

This could happen to anybody. If me and my brother were in this situation, I'd bring the suit too... unless my brother beat me to it.

Wow... just wow. I know I shouldn't be surprised, but I am.



If it were me and my brother we'd do it the Arfcom way and BOTH SUE!

I hope these cops get nailed to the fucking wall and the brothers get $10M each. I also hope they throw out every single conviction and outstanding case these two cops have been involved in and that all of those people sue as well. If I were king this would cost the NY tax payers millions and millions and millions.

Link Posted: 6/13/2009 2:16:39 PM EST
You ever see the movie "American Ganster"...........that shit was isolated too!
Link Posted: 6/13/2009 2:21:09 PM EST
Sorry, those cops should FRY [I mean that literally] for destroying innocents DELIBERATELY. They are bigger POS then ANYONE they have ever arrested. Hopefully they will both do the "right" thing and quit wasting taxpayer dollars.
Link Posted: 6/13/2009 2:22:14 PM EST
Maximo Colon? Sounds like he may have already spent some time in the joint.
Link Posted: 6/13/2009 2:23:35 PM EST
Originally Posted By evo7011:
You ever see the movie "American Ganster"...........that shit was isolated too!



I was told that that movie is all fake; there are no corrupt cops and there never were, its all hollywood bullshit by cop haters .
Link Posted: 6/13/2009 2:24:21 PM EST
What pieces of shit, to ruin lives like that.
Link Posted: 6/13/2009 2:25:55 PM EST
how long before the blue wall shows up and defends their actions? at least they didn't kill the brothers dogs.
Link Posted: 6/13/2009 2:26:21 PM EST
I wonder how many other people are doin time wrongly because of those guys.
Link Posted: 6/13/2009 2:27:07 PM EST
Im glad these officers are keeping me safe from those evil drugs.
Link Posted: 6/13/2009 2:27:11 PM EST
[Last Edit: 6/13/2009 2:27:58 PM EST by USGI_45]
Originally Posted By muzlblast:
I wonder how many other people are doin time wrongly because of those guys.




Whats the number of times they figure drunks have drove before they were caught?


The best part is if these dirty cops got dusted, they would get a hero burial.
Link Posted: 6/13/2009 2:28:18 PM EST
Originally Posted By Justin-Kase:
I hope those officers get to spend many years in gen pop.


play with fire....

Link Posted: 6/13/2009 2:29:56 PM EST
Every law abiding person's nightmare is an encounter with criminals wearing a badge.
Link Posted: 6/13/2009 2:38:37 PM EST
And the sad thing is we do hear the "isolated incedent" and other you don't know what its like excuses. But we never hear the other officers condemn their criminal brothers. Maybe some after the fact but you can't tell me that some on their department don't know this is going on. You allow it to happen and you are as guilty!!
Link Posted: 6/13/2009 2:43:02 PM EST

Originally Posted By Thealien:
And the sad thing is we do hear the "isolated incedent" and other you don't know what its like excuses. But we never hear the other officers condemn their criminal brothers. Maybe some after the fact but you can't tell me that some on their department don't know this is going on. You allow it to happen and you are as guilty!!


What the fuck are you talking about?
Link Posted: 6/13/2009 2:43:54 PM EST
This is one of the biggest arguments against the death penalty. False convictions and the execution of innocent people. If cops weren't so zealous, it wouldn't be as bad.
Link Posted: 6/13/2009 2:53:21 PM EST
this is why i don't support the death penalty.
Link Posted: 6/13/2009 2:54:42 PM EST
[Last Edit: 6/13/2009 2:56:02 PM EST by Psychovore]
Originally Posted By joedapro:
how long before the blue wall shows up and defends their actions? at least they didn't kill the brothers dogs.


I view it like this. There are bad people out there that do bad things with guns. Those that don't like guns or the people that own them will try to lump them all together, despite how we protest against it.

There are bad people out there that are cops, and do bad things as cops. To believe that every cop is like this or condones this is ridiculous, though.
Link Posted: 6/13/2009 2:59:18 PM EST
"If the brothers didn't do anything wrong, then the cops wouldn't have arrested them."


Link Posted: 6/13/2009 3:00:39 PM EST
[Last Edit: 6/13/2009 3:01:35 PM EST by 1387Delta]
Originally Posted By Psychovore:
Originally Posted By joedapro:
how long before the blue wall shows up and defends their actions? at least they didn't kill the brothers dogs.


I view it like this. There are bad people out there that do bad things with guns. Those that don't like guns or the people that own them will try to lump them all together, despite how we protest against it.

There are bad people out there that are cops, and do bad things as cops. To believe that every cop is like this or condones this is ridiculous, though.


Screw them if they are committing crimes. To totally fuck an innocent person's life up is deserving of the harshest punishment.

ETA: I'm glad there was a video tape.
Link Posted: 6/13/2009 3:04:40 PM EST
seems the war on drugs is affecting everyone. Maybe we should end the war.
Link Posted: 6/13/2009 3:05:00 PM EST
Fuck the War on Drugs.
Link Posted: 6/13/2009 3:05:38 PM EST
Originally Posted By Psychovore:
Originally Posted By joedapro:
how long before the blue wall shows up and defends their actions? at least they didn't kill the brothers dogs.


I view it like this. There are bad people out there that do bad things with guns. Those that don't like guns or the people that own them will try to lump them all together, despite how we protest against it.

There are bad people out there that are cops, and do bad things as cops. To believe that every cop is like this or condones this is ridiculous, though.


perhaps things are different in alaska. and, perhaps i'm a little closer to this in new york. we see shit like this daily.
Link Posted: 6/13/2009 3:06:52 PM EST
From what I understand, NYPD's screening practice when hiring is much to be desired...
Link Posted: 6/13/2009 3:09:36 PM EST

Originally Posted By Ironmaker:
This is one of the biggest arguments against the death penalty. False convictions and the execution of innocent people. If cops weren't so zealous, it wouldn't be as bad.

I can't speak for other states, but capital crimes in TX are automatically sent to an appeals court of the defendent is found guilty, and from there it can go on to more appeals and the state supreme court. We spend more money on determining guilt than we'd spend on imprisoning them for the rest of their life. And the death penalty only even sought in the most solid, extreme cases because of all these checks and balances. Bottom line - it's as secure as is humanly possible.
Link Posted: 6/13/2009 3:11:07 PM EST
Originally Posted By Steve_in_Washington:
"If the brothers didn't do anything wrong, then the cops wouldn't have arrested them."




"If you're not guilty, you have nothing to hide."

"Whose word are you going to believe; a cop or some scumbag who got arrested for selling dope?"

"Prosecuting the WoD requires aggressive tactics, but police can be trusted to act in good faith."

Etc etc etc ad fucking nauseum
Link Posted: 6/13/2009 3:35:04 PM EST
Originally Posted By myitinaw:
Originally Posted By pighelmet:
Completely isolated incident.



more and more all the time...




the local LEO trolls will be along shortly to say just because they didnt get caught clean this time, doesnt mean they werent drug dealers needing to be caught or that the video is faked.

Link Posted: 6/13/2009 8:00:59 PM EST
Originally Posted By Labomatic:
Originally Posted By myitinaw:
Originally Posted By pighelmet:
Completely isolated incident.



more and more all the time...




the local LEO trolls will be along shortly to say just because they didnt get caught clean this time, doesnt mean they werent drug dealers needing to be caught or that the video is faked.



Nope, you are wrong......again....
Link Posted: 6/13/2009 8:03:51 PM EST

Originally Posted By Skillshot:

Originally Posted By Ironmaker:
This is one of the biggest arguments against the death penalty. False convictions and the execution of innocent people. If cops weren't so zealous, it wouldn't be as bad.

I can't speak for other states, but capital crimes in TX are automatically sent to an appeals court of the defendent is found guilty, and from there it can go on to more appeals and the state supreme court. We spend more money on determining guilt than we'd spend on imprisoning them for the rest of their life. And the death penalty only even sought in the most solid, extreme cases because of all these checks and balances. Bottom line - it's as secure as is humanly possible.
I have a pretty good solution for addressing concerns of an innocent person being put to death.

If, God forbid, an innocent person does end up getting put to death and their innocence discovered afterwards, then those involved - from the cops to the jury - get a free ride on the chair as well.

Seems like a simple solution. "Are you SURE?" If you're not willing to put your life on the line, then you ain't sure.

Link Posted: 6/13/2009 8:25:35 PM EST
the whole profession needs a enema....
Link Posted: 6/13/2009 8:55:29 PM EST
Thank god there was a video


Its Scary to think how many times throughout our lives that we had a period without an alibi or without something to "prove" we were innocent. If it hadn't been for that video they would still be rotting at Rikers. A law abiding persons worst nightmare is a run in with a criminal wearing a badge.

I hope they get the 10 million + and that every case those officers were involved in gets thrown out.
Link Posted: 6/13/2009 8:59:12 PM EST
It's assholes like that that make every other police officer look like shit. I hope they go to jail
Link Posted: 6/13/2009 9:07:30 PM EST
And people ask me why I left law enforcement after 13 years
Link Posted: 6/14/2009 1:12:48 AM EST
hush peons!!

down arms!

the state is immaculate! It is god! It is never wrong!!

Obey!

do not question!!

throw down your pitchforks and disperse!!
______________________________________________________________

(what'd'ya mean i dont get the job, after that performance you should make me bloody emperor!!)
Link Posted: 6/14/2009 3:04:40 AM EST
are we up to 3% now?
Link Posted: 6/14/2009 3:11:16 AM EST
Originally Posted By pighelmet:
Completely isolated incident.



People complain that the police don't "police their own".

Yet many of those same people, will say that "all cops are dirty" as soon as the police take action against officers accussed of wrong doing.
Link Posted: 6/14/2009 3:13:37 AM EST
Originally Posted By gcpd19:
And people ask me why I left law enforcement after 13 years


This is the very same reason I left working a Judicial District Drug Task force..

Freaking crooks,bandits,abusers of authority ....That is all!

I hope these guys get bloody rich..
Link Posted: 6/14/2009 3:37:19 AM EST
[Last Edit: 6/14/2009 3:39:25 AM EST by TrijiCog]
It's tough out there guys,and sometimes innocent people have to pay the price.Besides,the brothers were probably guilty of something,they just haven't been caught yet.

And before anybody demeans the entire LE profession,take a step back and look into the mirror..

What are you guilty of ?


Yes,I have now become a police apologist..I am perfecting the time honored ArfCop tradition of turning the tables and accusing the accusers.
Link Posted: 6/14/2009 3:43:32 AM EST
You get the PD you pay for.
Link Posted: 6/14/2009 3:45:27 AM EST
Originally Posted By VooDoo3dfx:
From what I understand, NYPD's screening practice when hiring is much to be desired...


Most big city PD have chosen quantity over quality officers.
There are people I work with who I don't even get out of the car for.
I drive to their call, make sure they are ok, then I leave - I want nothing to do with anything they are involved in.
Link Posted: 6/14/2009 3:46:17 AM EST
This is what you get when one persons word is worth more in a court of law than another's, absent hard evidence.

Link Posted: 6/14/2009 3:49:01 AM EST
Originally Posted By thedoctors308:
Originally Posted By VooDoo3dfx:
From what I understand, NYPD's screening practice when hiring is much to be desired...


Most big city PD have chosen quantity over quality officers.
There are people I work with who I don't even get out of the car for.
I drive to their call, make sure they are ok, then I leave - I want nothing to do with anything they are involved in.


If they are doing something wrong,are you informing a supervisor or just saying nothing and letting them get away with it ?

You probably like your new career and the answer is obvious,and that's where the problem lies.

Link Posted: 6/14/2009 3:55:17 AM EST
Originally Posted By dodgecoltracer:
It's assholes like that that make every other police officer look like shit. I hope they go to jail


+1

They should go to jail. It's not like ruining innocent family's lives is any big deal or anything.
Link Posted: 6/14/2009 3:55:26 AM EST

Originally Posted By muzlblast:
I wonder how many other people are doin time wrongly because of those guys.

Every drug case that they had a conviction on should be under scrutiny.
Link Posted: 6/14/2009 3:57:55 AM EST

Originally Posted By broncobisley1:
seems the war on drugs is affecting everyone. Maybe we should end the war.

[Resident Statists]
Nonsense. The WOD is great. Every doper should be executed on the spot to save our fragile civilization. Our justice system rarely convicts an honest man. Even if they do, you have to break a few eggs to make an omelette.
[/Resident Statists]
Link Posted: 6/14/2009 4:23:17 AM EST
Originally Posted By Skillshot:

Originally Posted By Ironmaker:
This is one of the biggest arguments against the death penalty. False convictions and the execution of innocent people. If cops weren't so zealous, it wouldn't be as bad.

I can't speak for other states, but capital crimes in TX are automatically sent to an appeals court of the defendent is found guilty, and from there it can go on to more appeals and the state supreme court. We spend more money on determining guilt than we'd spend on imprisoning them for the rest of their life. And the death penalty only even sought in the most solid, extreme cases because of all these checks and balances. Bottom line - it's as secure as is humanly possible.


perhaps, but compared to most states texas has an express lane to the chair.
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