Two police officers in two different Queens precincts were arrested on bribery charges last night, the NYPD and Queens prosecutors are saying. The charges involve selling confidential victim information.
Officers Roberto Espinal, 44, of the 110th Precinct in Queens, and Danny Cano, 37, of the 115th Precinct in Queens, were charged with receiving bribes as a public servant and official misconduct. They were off-duty when they were arrested.
Espinal and Cano are accused of taking cash payments–ranging for $40 to $1,500–for copies of official NYPD accident reports from someone working for a medical clinic, a spokesman for the Queens District Attorney says. This middle man then used personal information in the reports to solicit accident victims. While such rings are caught from time to time, it’s rare for police officers to be found to be allegedly involved.
[UPDATE] In the criminal complaint obtained from the Queens District Attorney’s office Internal Affairs Det. Joseph DeMartini writes that on March 11, Cano met with one these “runners” in a parking lot at a mall in College Point and handed over an accident report containing names and contact information of five female accident victims in exchange for $1,500. Over the next six months, Cano gave out similar confidential information nine times total, often sending the information via text message to a unnamed informant who cooperated with the investigation.
In all, authorities allege Cano pocketed $6,200 in bribes. Espinal was doing over a similar period was seemed to make less money at it. He was usually charging $40 a name.
Espinal earned $98,000 as a police officer in 2012, records show. Cano earned more than $95,000 in the same year. An Internal Affairs investigation is still ongoing.
Back in 2003, six current and former police officers were busted for involvement in an insurance fraud ring based in the Bronx. In that instance, the scam involved the filing of phony accident reports to collect insurance. The misconduct took place in three precincts in upper Manhattan and the Bronx.