Press Releases

FOUR FORMER NYPD OFFICERS PLEAD GUILTY IN MANHATTAN FEDERAL COURT TO PARTICIPATING IN CONSPIRACIES TO TRANSPORT FIREARMS AND/OR STOLEN GOODS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday February 27, 2012

Nine of the Twelve Defendants Originally Charged Have Now Plead Guilty

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that former New York City Police Department (“NYPD”) officers GARY ORTIZ, JOSEPH TRISCHITTA, JOHN MAHONEY, and RICHARD MELNIK pled guilty to engaging in conspiracies to transport firearms and/or stolen goods across state lines.  Associates MICHAEL GEE and ERIC GOMER also pled guilty to participating in a scheme to transport stolen goods interstate, and GEE pled guilty to participating in a conspiracy to sell a firearm to an out-of-state resident.  ORTIZ, TRISCHITTA, MAHONEY, and GEE each pled guilty today, and MELNIK and GOMER pled guilty last week.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said:  “As they admitted today, these police officers moonlighted as criminals, and even planned to use their badges to cover their illegal activity.  When officers break the law they swear to uphold, they undermine the public’s confidence, and the damage they cause cannot be overstated.   To date, seven law enforcement officers have admitted to violating this sacred trust, and now they must face the consequences of their betrayal.”

According to the Complaint, the plea agreements, the Informations to which each defendant pled, and statements made in court:

From September 2010 to October 2011, ORTIZ and TRISCHITTA participated in a scheme to transport firearms across state lines.  ORTIZ, TRISCHITTA, and their co-conspirators helped transport three M-16 rifles, one shotgun, and 16 handguns – the majority of which had been defaced to remove or alter the serial number – from New Jersey to New York.  In another scheme, ORTIZ and TRISCHITTA, joined by MAHONEY, MELNIK, GEE, and GOMER, and other co-conspirators, helped transport what they believed were stolen goods, including slot machines and thousands of cartons of cigarettes, as well as various counterfeit merchandise, across state lines.  In total, the goods they illegally transported carried a street value of approximately $1 million.  GEE also participated in a conspiracy to sell a firearm to an out-of-state resident. 

While participating in the scheme, ORTIZ and MAHONEY were active-duty officers, in Brooklyn’s 71st and 68th precincts, respectively.  For part of the time, TRISCHITTA was an active-duty officer in Brooklyn’s 68th precinct.  MELNIK was a retired NYPD Officer who had previously worked in Brooklyn’s 68th precinct.  The ringleader was William Masso, who was an active-duty officer in Brooklyn’s 68th precinct. 

In preparing for, and carrying out this scheme, the defendants specifically discussed using their credentials and knowledge as law enforcement officers.  In a meeting on March 24, 2011, Masso told MAHONEY, MELNIK, and TRISCHITTA that they should carry their law enforcement badges during the operation and, if stopped, should say they were police officers working off-duty to deliver items another person had purchased at an auction.  At that same meeting, TRISCHITTA discussed a potential problem using a certain brand of rental truck to transport the merchandise since law enforcement is trained to look for that type of truck in connection with potential criminal activity.  The following day, after transporting six slot machines they believed to have been stolen from New Jersey to New York, MELNIK said that they needed to coordinate better on future meetings to make sure they were not all in the same parking lot, which made it look like they were scoping out the area.

During their guilty pleas, ORTIZ and TRISCHITTA admitted that they had willfully transported firearms across state lines, in violation of their obligations as NYPD Officers.  They, along with MAHONEY, MELNIK, GEE, and GOMER, also admitted that they had knowingly transported what they believed were stolen cigarettes, slot machines, and/or other merchandise across state lines.

*             *            *

ORTIZ, 28, of Brooklyn, New York, pled guilty today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Theodore H. Katz to one count of conspiracy to transport firearms interstate and one count of conspiracy to transport and receive stolen merchandise.  He faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.  ORTIZ agreed to a money judgment of $18,000, representing the amount of the crime proceeds, and agreed to forfeit his interest in one gun seized from him at the time of his arrest.  He is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Paul G. Gardephe on June 12, 2012 at 3:00 p.m.

TRISCHITTA, 42, of Staten Island, New York pled guilty today before Judge Katz to one count of conspiracy to transport firearms interstate and one count of conspiracy to transport and receive stolen merchandise.  He faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.  TRISCHITTA agreed to a money judgment of $11,500, representing the amount of the crime proceeds, and agreed to forfeit his interest in five guns seized from him at the time of his arrest.  He is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley on July 6, 2012 at 2:00 p.m.

MAHONEY, 27, of Staten Island, New York, pled guilty today before U.S. District Judge Richard J. Sullivan to one count of conspiracy to transport and receive stolen merchandise.  He faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison.  MAHONEY agreed to a money judgment of $4,500, representing the amount of the crime proceeds, and agreed to forfeit his interest in two guns seized from him at the time of his arrest.  He is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Sullivan on June 15, 2012 at 11:30 a.m.

GEE, 50, of Staten Island, New York, pled guilty today before Judge Katz to one count of conspiracy to sell a firearm to an out-of-state resident and one count of conspiracy to transport and receive stolen merchandise.  He faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.  GEE agreed to a money judgment of $5,000, representing the amount of the crime proceeds.  He is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Andrew L. Carter, Jr. on June 1, 2012 at 10:00 a.m.

MELNIK, 43, of Staten Island, New York, pled guilty on February 24, 2012 before U.S. Magistrate Judge Frank Maas to one count of conspiracy to transport and receive stolen merchandise.  He faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison.  MELNIK agreed to a money judgment of $5,000, representing the amount of the crime proceeds, and agreed to forfeit his interest in three guns seized from him at the time of his arrest.  He is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Barbara S. Jones on July 6, 2012 at 2:30 p.m.

GOMER, 28, of Rhode Island, New York, pled guilty on February 22, 2012 before U.S. District Judge John F. Keenan to one count of conspiracy to transport and receive stolen merchandise.  He faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison.  GOMER agreed to a money judgment of $5,000, representing the amount of the crime proceeds, and agreed to forfeit his interest in a replica gun seized from him at the time of his arrest.  He is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Keenan on May 30, 2012 at 3:00 p.m.

Three defendants previously pled guilty in connection with the case.  Masso pled guilty on February 6, 2012 and is scheduled to be sentenced on June 15, 2012.  Marco Venezia, a former NYPD Officer, and David Kanwisher, a corrections officer in New Jersey, each pled guilty on February 15, 2012 and are scheduled to be sentenced on June 21, 2012 and May 25, 2012, respectively. 

Charges are pending against former NYPD Officers Eddie Goris and Ali Oklu and former NYC Department of Sanitation Police Officer Anthony Santiago.  Goris is scheduled to appear in Magistrate Court on March 1, 2012 at 2:30 p.m. for a plea hearing.  Santiago is scheduled appear before U.S. District Judge Deborah A. Batts on March 9, 2012 at 2:30 p.m. for a plea hearing.  Oklu is scheduled to appear at a pretrial conference before Judge Pauley on March 23, 2012 at 2:00 p.m.  The charges against these co-conspirators are merely accusations, and these defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Mr. Bharara praised the investigative work of the FBI and the Internal Affairs Bureau of the NYPD.

This prosecution is being handled by the Office's Public Corruption and Complex Frauds units.  Assistant United States Attorneys Carrie H. Cohen, Brent S. Wible, and Amanda Kramer are in charge of the cases.

12-062

 

           

                                                                 

Return to Top



What Makes Schools Safer? Using science to discover what works. Federal funding available. Visit NIJ.gov, keywords: 'comprehensive school safety intiative'
Community Outreach

Giving Back to the Community through a variety of venues & initatives.

Victim Witness Assistance

Making sure that victims of federal crimes are treated with compassion, fairness and respect.

Stay Connected: Visit us on Twitter Twitter