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Thursday, May 15, 2008

Ex-cop pleads guilty to stealing, selling guns

Newsday by LUIS PEREZ - May 12, 2008

A former New York City police officer has pleaded guilty to stealing handguns from a Queens police evidence room and selling them on Long Island, Nassau prosecutors said.He also admitted buying a powerful painkiller illegally. Hubertus Vannes, 31, of Roslyn Heights, pleaded guilty on Friday to fourth-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and two counts of criminal sale of a firearm before Nassau County Court Judge Edward Maron.

Arrested last fall after an investigation into a prescription drug ring, Vannes agreed to a promised 5-year prison sentence after admitting he obtained painkillers from an East Meadow pharmacy, according to prosecutors. Prosecutors said Vannes also admitted to selling three illegally obtained handguns to Anthony Vitta, one of the men who sold Vannes the drug. He also sold two handguns to investigators posing as customers, prosecutors said.When arrested, Vannes had 76 tablets, or just over two ounces, of Vicodin in his possession, prosecutors said.

"Hopefully, Mr. Vannes will use the next five years contemplating how to earn back the public's trust," said District Attorney Kathleen Rice in a statement. Vannes, who has been suspended from the police force, is to be sentenced in July. His attorney, Eric Bernstein of Manhattan, could not be reached for comment yesterday. Vitta, 45, of East Meadow, is scheduled to return to court in June. A third man, pharmacy owner Howard Brass, 48, of North Bellmore, has pleaded guilty to insurance fraud and grand larceny and was sentenced to 8 months in jail, prosecutors said.

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