As reported in The New York Times:
Two New York City gang detectives who were arrested last month on charges of fabricating the details of a gun arrest in Manhattan have been charged in a second case, in which prosecutors have accused the investigators of framing a man for selling crack cocaine in Queens.
In an indictment unsealed on Tuesday, prosecutors said that one of the detectives, Kevin Desormeau, testified before a grand jury about watching as a man identified by his lawyer as Roosevelt McCoy exchanged money with two women on the street and was then arrested carrying crack cocaine.
But Mr. McCoy, according to his lawyer, dispatched his cousin to a bar in Jamaica, Queens, to retrieve surveillance footage that showed that, at the exact time of the purported “drug deal,” Mr. McCoy was playing pool. Mr. McCoy was held for over 50 days on Rikers Island before the charges against him were dismissed, prosecutors said.
Detective Desormeau has been charged with first-degree perjury, among other charges, and the other detective, Sasha Cordoba, has also been charged with official misconduct and first-degree offering of a false instrument for filing, prosecutors said.
Last month, the detectives both pleaded not guilty in State Supreme Court in Manhattan to similar charges. In that case, prosecutors said the detectives claimed a man had threatened a person with a gun and had the weapon on him at the time of the arrest, which other evidence later contradicted.
Police officials said that the detectives had both been suspended by the department. Detective Desormeau has been with the department since 2006; Detective Cordoba joined in 2007. It is unclear whether a review of their arrest histories has uncovered any other potential wrongdoing. Lawyers for both detectives did not respond to messages seeking comment on Tuesday.
In the Queens case, prosecutors said that the detectives arrested Mr. McCoy, who was 45 at the time, on the evening of Aug. 28, 2014, for selling crack cocaine to a woman on a sidewalk near 108th Avenue and Guy R. Brewer Boulevard in the Jamaica neighborhood. In a Criminal Court affidavit, Detective Desormeau claimed that he saw a hand-to-hand exchange between the man and a woman who was not arrested. Detective Desormeau reported that he had recovered rock cocaine from the man’s waistband, prosecutors said.
Later, Detective Desormeau testified before a grand jury in Queens that he saw the man hand two women something in exchange for money, and that he had a twist of crack cocaine in his possession when he was arrested, prosecutors said. Then, the detective repeated a similar account while testifying in a hearing.
The Queens district attorney’s office ultimately dismissed the charges against Mr. McCoy, but his case had been prosecuted over a period of more than a year. Mr. McCoy’s lawyer, Gabriel P. Harvis, said that his client was worried about the prospect of facing years in prison and that he was troubled by the willingness of the detectives to misrepresent the circumstances of his arrest.
Mr. Harvis said the detectives had shown “a profound indifference to the truthfulness of the allegations that they make against citizens.” Mr. McCoy, he said, believed that the charges were a positive step.
“It lets the police officers on the street know there are real penalties when they start making up allegations out of thin air,” Mr. Harvis said. “It’s impossible for him to get back the 52 days he spent in jail. It’s some degree of comfort that the officers will be held criminally accountable.”
In addition to the perjury charge, Detective Desormeau, 33, has been charged with first-degree offering of a false instrument for filing, official misconduct and making a punishable false written statement. Detective Desormeau faces a maximum penalty of seven years in prison, and Detective Cordoba, also 33, faces up to four years in prison, prosecutors said.
The case in Manhattan stems from the Nov. 6, 2014, arrest of a man on a gun possession charge in an apartment building in the Washington Heights neighborhood. In that case, the detectives claimed — in official paperwork and in grand jury testimony — that the man had threatened another person with the gun and had the weapon in the waistband of his pants at the time of his arrest.
But an investigation found that the gun was in another room, not in his waistband, and that witness interviews, surveillance camera footage and text messages from Detective Desormeau conflicted with their account.
After the detectives were arraigned in that case, James M. Moschella, a lawyer for the Detectives Endowment Association, said that they were “going to fight the charges” and that “ultimately, we expect them to be vindicated.”