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Saturday, February 14, 2009

Cop Accused of Laundering Drug Cash

NYPD Officer Yaniris Balbuena laundered drug money for boyfriend, say feds
The New York Daily News by ALISON GENDAR AND THOMAS ZAMBITO - February 14, 2009

An NYPD cop moonlighted as a money-launderer for her drug-dealing boyfriend, picking up cash from his heroin operation and making bank deposits, prosecutors charged. Officer Yaniris Balbuena, 31, wept as she was hauled into Manhattan Federal Court Friday. She was released on $200,000 bond and suspended from her $60,000-a-year NYPD job. Her lawyer said her longtime boyfriend, the father of her two children, was killed in the Dominican Republic last year. His name was not released. "She's surprised that she's bearing the weight for his criminal activity," defense lawyer John Tynan said. The feds say that starting in 2002, Balbuena laundered $238,000 in cash, picking up bags at locations across the Bronx - including a car audio store near the 44th Precinct stationhouse. The nine-year veteran put the cash into eight different bank accounts, limiting deposits to $10,000 or less to avoid federal reporting requirements, they said. An informant told the feds he overheard Balbuena telling the boyfriend he "needed to change his lifestyle and live an honest life with a normal job," according to a criminal complaint filed by Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agent Jared Murphey.


Police Officer Is Accused of Laundering Drug Cash
The New York Times by BENJAMIN WEISER - February 14, 2009

A New York City police officer was accused on Friday of conspiring to launder thousands of dollars in drug proceeds in what the authorities said was a large-scale heroin organization in the Bronx that the officer’s companion ran until his death last year. Federal prosecutors in Manhattan charged that the officer, Yaniris Balbuena, 31, who was arrested on Friday, took deliveries of drug money, sometimes on Jerome Avenue near the station house of the 44th Precinct, where she worked. The prosecutors, citing an informant’s account, described her as being nervous during one such exchange, as she instructed the informant to drop money on the floor of her private car before driving away. Officer Balbuena controlled nine bank accounts, according to a criminal complaint unsealed in Federal District Court in Manhattan. It said she deposited more than $230,000 in unexplained cash in her accounts, an amount that “far surpassed her legitimate income.” The officer, who joined the force in 2000, was suspended after her arrest, a Police Department spokesman said. A federal magistrate judge ordered her released on bond late in the day. She said nothing during the hearing and did not enter a plea, dabbing her eyes and crying as she left. Her lawyer, John Tynan, declined to comment.

The authorities did not identify the officer’s companion in court documents, but said they had lived together and had two children. He was killed, apparently in a drug-related homicide, an official said. Officer Balbuena’s deposits of unexplained cash into her accounts stopped after his death, another official said. The complaint said that the drug-trafficking operation generated hundreds of thousands of dollars, and that her companion lived luxuriously, driving expensive cars and buying property in the United States and the Dominican Republic. The complaint is based in part on claims from people described as confidential informants who had been charged with crimes and were now assisting the government. One of those sources, the complaint said, told the authorities that Officer Balbuena once told her companion that he “needed to change his lifestyle and live an honest life with a normal job.” He replied that he “enjoyed the criminal lifestyle and did not want to work a regular job,” the complaint said. C. J. Hughes contributed reporting.

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