Six More Ex-Cops Plead Guilty in Gun-Running Scheme

March 8, 2012 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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BAY RIDGE — Six more retired cops have pleaded guilty in the shocking gun-running case that ensnared several officers from the 68th Precinct.

On Feb. 27, Joseph Trischitta and three fellow defendants entered guilty pleas in Manhattan federal court, admitting that they had participated in a scheme to transport illegal guns and stolen goods across state lines. Two other defendants pleaded guilty two weeks ago.

A total of 12 suspects were arrested in connection with the scheme in November.

Three other suspects, including the ringleader, former police officer William Masso, pleaded guilty last month.

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Trischitta, who retired in 2010, was a community affairs officer at the 68th Precinct.

Former police officer Marco Venezia, who was also a community affairs cop at the 68th Precinct before his 2010 retirement, is one of the suspects who pleaded guilty last month.

Trischitta, 42, also agreed to pay a money judgment of $11,500, representing the amount of the proceeds of his crime, according to Preet Bharara, the U.S. attorney for the southern district of New York.

In addition, Trischitta agreed to forfeit his interest in five guns that were seized from him at the time of his arrest, Bharara said.

Trischitta could face up to 10 years in prison when he is sentenced on July 6.

Bharara issued a statement following the guilty pleas entered by Trischitta and others on Feb. 27.

“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,” Bharara said.

The defendants are charged with conspiring to transport guns, cigarettes, slot machines and other items from New Jersey into New York. The goods they transported had a street value of approximately of $1 million, according to Bharara.
The contraband included thousands of cartons of cigarettes, the U.S. attorney said.

During the course of carrying out their scheme, the defendants discussed using their police credentials and their knowledge as law enforcement officers, Bharara said. In a meeting that took place on March 24, 2011, Masso told Trischitta and two other defendants that they should carry their police 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, the U.S. attorney said.

The suspects were caught by authorities, who got help from an FBI informant working undercover.

    — Paula Katinas

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