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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

New Indictment in Police Corruption Inquiry

The New York Times by BRUCE LAMBERT - May 16, 2008

In late 2006, a New York City detective was suspected of being involved with illegal drugs, and an Internal Affairs Bureau sergeant was bluntly advising him on how to avoid investigators, according to new court filings in a continuing federal probe of police corruption. Their profanity-laced conversation was quoted in an indictment issued on Wednesday by a grand jury in Brooklyn. The new charges in the case accused the sergeant, Sgt. William Valerio, of false statements, bank fraud and conspiracy. Prosecutors said he was the seventh person — and third police officer — indicted in the investigation since 2006.

The bank fraud charges stemmed from accusation that Sergeant Valerio was involved with Detective Luis M. Batista in producing a false termite inspection certificate required for a mortgage for a $412,000 house sale in Elmont, Long Island. The indictment also accused Mr. Batista of altering a receipt for the inspection, raising the cost to $1,000 from $100. The wiretap excerpts, with obscenities deleted, attributed to Sergeant Valerio the comments cautioning Detective Batista. “Be very careful when you’re coming and going, because the [expletive] will follow you,” Sergeant Valerio was quoted as saying. “Look over your [expletive] shoulder 100 million times.” The grand jury said that Detective Batista already knew he was under suspicion because he had been tipped off by another sergeant in the Internal Affairs Bureau, Henry Conde. The bureau is supposed to be the police department’s watchdog.

Eventually the grand jury indicted Detective Batista on charges of drug trafficking conspiracy and Sergeant Conde on charges of false statements, and both of them on charges of obstruction of justice. Both Detective Batista and Sergeant Conde pleaded not guilty. Their trial is scheduled for January. The office of the United States attorney for the Eastern District, Benton J. Campbell, said that Sergeant Valerio was to be arraigned on Monday in United States District Court in Brooklyn. Calls to his office late Thursday were not returned. The Police Department said Mr. Valerio, who joined the force in 1992, had been transferred from Internal Affairs to the warrants division and suspended from that job on Wednesday.

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