NEW YORK — Five police officers have been arrested on charges of accepting counterfeit Coach bags as bribes from a street peddler, Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau said Thursday.
The officers were assigned to the 13th Precinct, which covers a stretch of Midtown known to be a hotbed of counterfeiting activity.
Detectives Brian Bartlett, 37, and Rodney Lewis, 40, as well as police officers George Santiago, 38, and Jaime Albertelli, 31, surrendered to authorities Thursday, Morgenthau’s office said. Another officer, Jashua Penalo, 32, as well as the peddler, Jamil Faied, 44, were arrested last week.
The five cops were charged with accepting bribes between July and November 2004, prosecutors said. Faied was charged with bribery.
A spokeswoman for Morgenthau said the value of the goods the officers accepted was small but, “It’s not the value of the property…this was fairly low-level, but it shows how corruption starts, so the value is not really the issue.”
If convicted of the most serious charges of receiving a bribe and bribery, all six suspects face as much as seven years in prison.
All five officers have been suspended without pay, according to an NYPD spokesman.
The NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau and the District Attorney have been investigating the case since January.
Kevin Dougherty of Counter-Tech, a private investigator who specializes in fighting counterfeiting, said: “That precinct, in particular, has been very proactive on the problem,” he said. “They’ve done a lot of great work.”
The peddler, Faied, who allegedly bribed the cops, worked in the vicinity of West 27 Street and Broadway.
Penalo was charged with giving him information about search warrants in a counterfeiting case. Santiago and Albertelli were accused of forcing a legal street peddler, at Faied’s request, to move from a location where he was permitted to sell legal merchandise.
The stretch of the West 20s along Broadway is home to both street vendors in counterfeit goods, as well as larger dealers of bulk counterfeit goods in side-street buildings. In January, two men were shot in a building on West 27th Street in what was said to be a counterfeit deal gone bad.
This story first appeared in the March 4, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.