Schneiderman: NY Police Officer Charged with Intentionally Obstructing Investigation Into Capital Region Drug Ring
July 30, 2014
Officer Accused Of Leaking Confidential Information Of Pending Search Warrants, Allowing Suspects Time To Remove Evidence Of Narcotics From Premises; Schneiderman: It’s Particularly Troubling To See An Officer Accused Of Abusing His Position While Violating The Very Laws That He’s Sworn To Protect
(TROY, NY) Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced the arrest of Troy Police Officer Brian Gross for purposefully revealing to at least one suspect that law-enforcement agencies conducting a joint investigation into a Capitol region drug ring planned to execute search warrants, according to a felony complaint. Officer Gross is charged with Tampering with Physical Evidence, a felony, as well as two counts of Official Misconduct and one count of Obstructing Governmental Administration. Officer Gross is scheduled to appear in Troy city court today, Wednesday.
“Revealing confidential information threatens the safety of law-enforcement agents and jeopardizes criminal investigations,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “It’s particularly troubling to see an officer accused of abusing his position while violating the very laws that he’s sworn to protect.”
“The actions of this officer not only interfered with highly sensitive intelligence gathering on drug activity, it put the lives of our law enforcement officers in jeopardy,” Police Superintendant D’Amico said. “The success of these types of narcotics investigations could not be achieved without the hard work and dedication of our members working closely with our partners in law enforcement. It is unfortunate that this officer chose to breach that trust, abuse his authority and undermine a criminal investigation.”
Since 2013, the NYSP’s Community Narcotics Enforcement Team (CNET) had been investigating a specific criminal narcotics ring in Rensselear County. Officer Gross was assigned to assist CNET with the operation and thus had knowledge of and access to investigative intelligence, suspect information and details concerning the timing and location of search warrants.
Investigators became suspicious when, upon executing search warrants in February at five locations where extensive evidence of drug activity had already been observed, there was no discernible evidence of the drug enterprise. One of the residences searched was that of a suspect identified in the criminal complaint as “Person #2.” This person subsequently informed NYSP investigators that he’d been told by “Person #1” of CNET’s investigation into “Person #2” for drug trafficking and that a search warrant would be executed in the next few days. According to the complaint, “Person #1” admitted receiving this information directly from Officer Gross, who arranged in-person meetings via text message.
Further investigation by the Attorney General’s Office revealed that Officer Gross allegedly warned that “Person #2” had better “watch [his] back” because he had come to the attention of the State Police. According to the felony complaint filed yesterday, in the week prior to the execution of search warrants, Officer Gross again warned that there better not be any drugs inside the home of “Person #2” because “there was a good chance the police would be getting a warrant.” In interviews with investigators, “Person #1” acknowledged warning “Person #2” to remove any drugs from his residence, based on the information from Officer Gross.
The arrest is the result of a 5-month long joint investigation between the Attorney General’s Office and the New York State Police.
Attorney General Schneiderman has aggressively prosecuted public corruption since taking office. He has prosecuted 40 politicians, government employees and nonprofit officials in less than four years in office.
Prosecuting the case is Assistant Attorney General Bridget Holohan-Scally of the Attorney General’s Public Integrity Bureau, which is led by Deputy Bureau Chief Stacy Aronowitz, Bureau Chief Daniel Cort and Executive Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Justice Kelly Donovan. The investigation was handled by Deputy Chief Antoine Karam and Investigator Dennis Churns of the Attorney General’s Investigations Bureau, which is led by Chief Dominick Zarrella.