An NYPD patrol officer admitted he stole 9mm guns from the lockers of fellow cops in Manhattan’s 9th Precinct, because he was addicted to painkillers--and had to pay off his drug dealer.
31 year old Police Officer, Nicholas Mina, was arraigned in Manhattan Supreme Court on Friday on multiple charges, including conspiracy and criminal sale of a firearm. Prosecutors told the judge Mina sold four, stolen 9mm police guns to drug dealer, Ivan Chavez, with “standard issue NYPD ammunition” still in them, and even sold one of his personal firearms, a Glock.
According to prosecutors, “Mr. Mina confessed….blaming it on his drug use and his debt to his drug dealer, Ivan Chavez.” Investigators say they have hours of wiretapped phone conversations between Officer Mina and the drug dealer, talking about gun sales and drugs.
Prosecutors said in open court that Officer Mina was a regular customer, on a daily basis, of the Queens drug dealer—buying Oxycodone pills. The pain killers have become a scourge across New York—and the United States—so addictive that they prompted a U.S. Army veteran to kill four people during a pharmacy robbery in Medford, Long Island last year. This past January, an off-duty ATF agent was killed in Seaford, Long Island—trying to stop a painkiller robbery in another pharmacy.
In one, ironic twist in the case, the NYPD had posted 24-hour security in the locker room of the 9th Precinct back in February, after guns were being stolen from police lockers. At one point, Officer Mina was actually assigned to the security detail. He allegedly stole one of the guns in April. The police department also used surveillance cameras in its efforts to find the thief, always suspecting it was an inside job. Prosecutors told the judge, “Work records placed him in the locker room when the guns were taken.”
The Internal Affairs Division was tipped off about Mina at one point and used undercover cops to make gun buys.
Prosecutors said, “Over the last, three months, that network was responsible for trafficking at least ten firearms.”
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly and Mayor Michael Bloomberg were bound to be upset that a New York City cop was accused in a gun case, since they’ve campaigned tirelessly to get illegal weapons off the streets, also calling for stricter gun laws in states where they’re easily purchased. The city saw a spike in deadly gun violence during the recent week of the July 4th holiday.
Four civilians were also charged in the case today. Along with the accused drug dealer, Ivan Chavez, 64 year old Meryl Lebowitz was charged with gun running. Prosecutors said she picked up two guns sold by the police officer. Her defense attorney entered a “not guilty” plea for Lebowitz, who lives in the same home as Chavez on 106th Street in Queens.
Prosecutors said Officer Mina also stole a bullet-proof vest from a precinct locker. He apparently bought his drugs from Chavez in Queens, where he sometimes stayed with a girlfriend.
His parents live in West Babylon, Long Island.
Investigators said when they raided the drug dealer’s home, they also found a sawed –off shotgun and a Tec-9, along with blank “prescription pads”.
The judge refused to set bail for Officer Mina, so he was remanded to jail, along with the accused drug dealer and two female defendants, until their next hearing in August.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun