Former NYPD Officer Sentenced In Manhattan Federal Court To Two Years In Prison For Conspiring To Distribute Firearms And Stolen Goods
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday July 26, 2012
Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that MARCO VENEZIA, a former New York City Police Department (“NYPD”) Officer, was sentenced today to two years in prison for engaging in a scheme involving the illegal interstate transport of firearms and stolen goods. VENEZIA, who was an active duty NYPD Officer during part of the time he was involved in the conspiracy, pled guilty in February 2012 to one count of conspiracy to transport firearms interstate, and one count of conspiracy to transport and receive stolen goods interstate. He was sentenced in Manhattan federal court by U.S. District Judge Sidney H. Stein.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “For the relatively paltry sum of $8,000 in criminal proceeds, Marco Venezia was ready, willing, and able to betray the NYPD, his fellow officers, and the people of New York City. As his sentence today makes clear, the personal cost of his conduct far outweighs the fleeting benefits of his crimes.”
According to the Complaint, the plea agreement, the two-count Information to which VENEZIA pled guilty, sentencing submissions, and statements made in court:
From September 2010 to October 2011, VENEZIA transported firearms interstate and what he believed to be stolen goods, including slot machines, cigarettes and other merchandise, across state lines. VENEZIA became involved in the conspiracy in February 2011 when he was recruited by its organizer and leader, fellow NYPD Officer William Masso. As part of the scheme, VENEZIA helped transport 20 firearms including, three M-16 rifles, one shotgun, and 16 handguns – the majority of which had been defaced to remove or alter the serial numbers and all of which had been rendered inoperable – 6 slot machines, thousands of cartons of cigarettes, and other counterfeit merchandise. He was paid $8,000 for his role in the scheme. In total, the goods that VENEZIA and his co-conspirators illegally transported carried a street value of approximately $1 million.
VENEZIA attended meetings during which his co-conspirators specifically discussed using their credentials and knowledge as law enforcement officers in preparing for, and carrying out this scheme. For example, in a meeting in March 2011, Masso explained that the men should carry their law enforcement badges during the operation and, if stopped, say they were police officers working off-duty to deliver items that had been purchased at an auction. The group also used their specialized knowledge as law enforcement officers in determining the ideal vehicle to rent to transport the goods; they wanted one that was least likely to get pulled over for inspection.
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In addition to the prison term, Judge Stein sentenced VENEZIA, 47, of Brooklyn, New York, to two years of supervised release and ordered him to pay a $200 special assessment fee. VENEZIA also has agreed to a money judgment of $8,000 representing his share of the crime proceeds, and has relinquished his interest in guns seized from him at the time of his arrest.
VENEZIA originally was charged in a four-count complaint along with 11 co-conspirators, many of whom were fellow NYPD Officers. The leader of the conspiracy, Masso, who was an active-duty NYPD Officer in the 68th precinct when he committed the offenses, pled guilty in February 2012 and was sentenced to 57 months in prison on July 20, 2012. David Kanwisher, who was a New Jersey Corrections Officer when he committed the offenses, pled guilty in February 2012 and was sentenced to 27 months in prison on June 21, 2012. All of the remaining defendants, except Ali Oklu, an active duty NYPD Officer at the time he allegedly committed the offenses, have pled guilty and await sentencing. The charges and allegations against him that are contained in the complaint are merely accusations and he is 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 Attorney Carrie H. Cohen is in charge of the prosecution.