By Jonathan Dienst and Shimon Prokupecz
A 17-year veteran of the NYPD has been indicted on charges of armed robbery, narcotics trafficking and illegal use of a firearm, and prosecutors say he allegedly committed at least one of the crimes while on duty in his Harlem precinct.
Jose Tejada, 45, was taken into custody at Kennedy Airport Wednesday after returning from the Dominican Republic, officials said. He was off-duty at the time of his arrest.
The indictment adds Tejada as a defendant to a previously filed indictment against a violent robbery crew responsible for more than 100 armed robberies of narcotics traffickers in New York City.
Authorities say Tejada has been linked to three robberies in the Bronx in 2006 and 2007 that netted thousands of dollars in cash and cocaine. During one of the robberies, Tejada was on duty and in uniform and used his status as a police officer to gain access to a private residence in the Bronx where drug dealers were believed to be living, according to the indictment.
According to court documents, Tejada allegedly helped members of a violent robbery crew pose as police officers by supplying them with NYPD equipment. He also allegedly used his status as a police officer to search confidential law enforcement databases and see if his crew members had outstanding warrants.
More than 20 members of Tejada’s alleged crew have been convicted in connection with the ongoing case, including another NYPD officer and an auxiliary officer, prosecutors said.
If convicted of the narcotics and firearms charges, Tejada faces a maximum sentence of life in prison. Attorney information for him was not immediately available.
The Drug Enforcement Agency task force helped NYPD and Port Authority make the arrest.
New York (CNN) — A veteran New York police officer accused of equipping a robbery crew with state-of-the art police equipment and helping them loot drug dealers out of $1 million pleaded not guilty in federal court Thursday.
Jose Tejada, 45, also is accused of allowing the robbery crew to use his Manhattan apartment for their enterprise.
In court documents filed Wednesday, federal prosecutors said the crew posed as police officers and used fake warrants to arrest drug traffickers.
The crew then robbed those it arrested of their money and their stashes of marijuana, heroin, ecstasy and cocaine, authorities said.
In all, the group — comprising Tejada and at least 21 others — is responsible for more than 100 armed robberies throughout New York City since 2001, according to officials.
The New York Police Department officer, arrested Wednesday, faces multiple counts of robbery, drug dealing and weapons charges.
A U.S. magistrate on Thursday ordered Tejada to remain in custody.
Prosecutors said they had “overwhelming evidence” and argued the man presented a continuing danger to the community.
But the officer’s court-appointed attorney, Zachary Margulis-Ohnuma, said his client was not a flight risk and had remained on the force while on modified duty.
“If there was a danger, what’s been going on the last four years?” Margulis-Ohnuma asked, referring to the length of the investigation.
Margulis-Ohnuma said that Tejada “adamantly denies” the charges and said they will be “vehemently challenging them.”
It is unclear what made police begin to investigate Tejada, who started with the department in 1996.
In 2006 and 2007, Tejada participated in three robberies, prosecutors say, stealing thousands of dollars while dressed in his police uniform. In one of the cases, the crew stormed a Bronx home searching for cocaine.
“The crew mistakenly believed the residents to be drug dealers,” court documents said. “In fact, the residents were a family of three, including a teenager, who had no involvement in drug dealing.”
The crew did not find drugs but searched the home while Tejada held the family at gunpoint, prosecutors allege. Once they left, the family called 911.
Tejada, a father of two, faces a minimum of 17 years in prison if convicted. His wife cried throughout the court proceedings Thursday and left without speaking to reporters.
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said Thursday, “Obviously it’s sad and disappointing any time a police officer is arrested, but this officer has been on modified duty for three years, so this investigation has taken a long time to come to fruition, and it’s still not over. … the officer has been arrested, suspended, and we’ll see what the outcome of the trial is.”