Updated 07/13/2012 05:07 PM
Manhattan DA: Police Officer Stole Guns From Lockers, Re-Sold Them
A city police officer is being held without bail and is charged with allegedly stealing guns from fellow officers and re-selling them. NY1's Natasha Ghoneim filed the following report.
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Officer Nicholas Mina hung his head and tried to shield his face from cameras as he was led away from the courtroom in chains.
The 31-year old officer was arraigned Friday for being the mastermind of a gun trafficking operation.
Police said that Mina confessed Thursday night to stealing loaded service weapons and a bullet-proof vest from the lockers of his fellow officers at the 9th Precinct in the East Village. He then allegedly sold them to support a drug habit, putting those guns on the street and endangering the lives of his fellow cops.
The four-and-a-half year veteran blamed his prescription pill addiction and deep debt to his drug dealer for abusing his badge.
His attorney, David Fisher, had nothing to say publicly about his client.
Officer's Mina’s alleged drug dealer, 24-year-old Ivan Chavez, was charged with buying the guns from Mina and selling them on the underground market. In addition to guns, police found more than $50,000 in counterfeit money and thousands of oxycodone and oxymorphone pills, heroin and stolen prescription pads at Chavez's home.
Officer Mina allegedly told investigators he was buying the addictive prescription painkillers daily from Chavez and he began re-selling drugs and stealing guns to pay his mounting debt.
Prosecutors said as many as 14 stolen guns could be involved in the operation.
A total of four men and two women have been charged with playing a role in the six-month gun and drug running operation. Police still haven't arrested one of the suspects.
Adam Freedman, an attorney for one of the defendants, 64-year-old Meryl Leibowitz, spoke briefly to reporters. Investigators said Leibowitz confessed to running guns.
“She said right now, she intends on fighting this case," Freedman said. "And until we find out otherwise, we're going to be in court fighting it out.”
The DA's office said this is its 13th indictment of gun traffickers in the last year and half. $2 million has been seized and 422 guns have been taken off the streets.