FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, March 27, 2018
NYPD Officer Indicted for Perjury for Allegedly Lying on
Search Warrant Application and in Subsequent Court Hearings
Swore He Saw Suspect Kick Box and Then Found a Firearm Inside, But He Was Not at the
Location When Gun was Recovered; Made Allegedly False Statements on Five Occasions
Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, together with New York City Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill, today announced that a New York City Police Department officer has been indicted for perjury, making a false statement and official misconduct for allegedly lying on a search warrant application and in subsequent hearings. The officer stated that, while arresting a suspect in Red Hook, Brooklyn, he saw the man kick a box from which he then recovered a gun. But an investigation by the NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau and the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office revealed that the officer was not present inside of the apartment at the time and, after repeating the false statement during numerous court proceedings, the officer finally admitted that he was not, in fact, the one who recovered the gun.
District Attorney Gonzalez said, “Our police officers are expected to be truthful and honest at all times because people’s fates and the integrity of the justice system depend on that. We allege that the officer in this case failed to do that and instead repeatedly gave false testimony under oath. Such conduct diminishes public trust and is, in fact, criminal. We intend to now hold the defendant accountable.”
Commissioner O’Neill said, “It is imperative that New Yorkers are able to trust their police to tell the truth, especially when it comes to the extremely serious business of effecting arrests for gun possession and testifying about them in court. Police officers swear an oath to live up to a very high standard. And when they intentionally violate that promise, they tarnish the reputation of officers of high integrity, make their jobs much more difficult, and erode the trust we have worked so hard to earn in all of our communities.”
The District Attorney identified the defendant as Police Officer Joseph Moloney, 27, who was assigned to the 76th Precinct School Unit. He was arraigned today before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun on a 24-count indictment in which he is charged with first-, second- and third-degree perjury, first- and second-degree making a false statement and official misconduct. The defendant was released without bail and ordered to return to court on June 13, 2018. He faces up to four years in prison if convicted of the top count.
According to the investigation, on May 6, 2016, at about 6:30 a.m., Officer Moloney and three other officers finished executing a search warrant in the Red Hook Houses on Columbia Street in Brooklyn and then went to look for a man who lived in the same housing complex and had an unrelated summons warrant. The officers went to the apartment and knocked on the door. Their target opened, was placed under arrest and was then allowed to go to his bedroom to get dressed. He became agitated and was removed from the apartment by Officer Moloney and another officer.
After getting a call at the precinct from their sergeants, the two officers returned to the apartment about 15 to 20 minutes later. Inside, they observed an already-opened black box that contained a gun, a wrist watch, cash and three ziplock bags containing marijuana. The sergeant instructed Officer Moloney to obtain an emergency search warrant for the apartment. In the search warrant affidavit, the official swore that, “As I was assisting [redacted] to get dressed, [redacted] kicked a black plastic box under the bed where the baby was sleeping. I then opened the black plastic box and observed a silver pistol inside the box.”
The officer swore to the search warrant and was examined by a Supreme Court judge later that morning. The search warrant was executed and an operable unloaded 9mm semi-automatic pistol was recovered from the black plastic box. Officer Moloney subsequently testified in a grand jury proceeding against the man and his girlfriend (who was also present inside the apartment), who were charged with third-degree criminal possession of a weapon and other counts. In his testimony, he made two variations from the search warrant affidavit: he said the suspect pushed the box “towards the bed,” not under the bed, and added that “we opened the box,” instead of “I.”
In February 2017, Officer Moloney testified in Family Court, in a proceeding that was initiated by the Administration for Children’s Services because there were two children inside the apartment at the time of the arrest, in the vicinity of a gun and drugs. His testified that he did not observe the gun until after the search warrant was obtained, records show.
During the discovery process, photographs of the location revealed that that the box spring was resting directly on the floor, meaning the gun could not have been kicked under the bed – which led a Supreme Court judge to order a hearing. In that hearing, the officer repeatedly testified that the black box was pushed “away from the bed.” He further explained that the inaccuracy was “just a rookie mistake.” He insisted that he observed the defendant kick the box and that he was the one who opened it and saw the firearm. The judge ruled that there was probable cause for the warrant.
In July 2017, during preparations for additional pre-trial hearings, Officer Moloney informed the assigned prosecutor that, contrary to his previous statements, he did not open the black box nor did he see it being opened by someone else. That statement was voluntary and unprompted, the investigation found. Consequently, the case against the male suspect was dismissed (the case against his girlfriend was dismissed in March 2017 after DNA results excluded her as a contributor to the samples obtained from the firearm).
Interviews were conducted with the suspect and his girlfriend, who claimed that they never gave the officers consent to search the apartment or the black box. Interviews by the Internal Affair Bureau with the other officers who were in the apartment revealed that it was one of the sergeants who found the box and the gun, but they were uncertain as to whether Officer Moloney was present at the time or not, according to the investigation.
The case was investigated by Sergeant Joseph Flynn of the NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau, under the supervision of Lieutenant John Orecchia and Captain Joseph Profeta.
The case is being prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Adriana Rodriguez, of the District Attorney’s Civil Rights Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Kelli Muse, Deputy Bureau Chief, and the overall supervision of Assistant District Attorney Patricia McNeill, Deputy Chief of the District Attorney’s Investigations Division, and Assistant District Attorney Joseph Alexis, Chief of the District Attorney’s Trial Division.
An indictment is an accusatory instrument and not proof of a defendant’s guilt.