By William K. Rashbaum, The New York Times
A Brooklyn federal prosecutor working on the investigation of two
former police detectives charged with stealing $169,000 from a drug
money courier said yesterday that his office was involved in plea
negotiations with the two men.
Speaking at a hearing in Federal District Court in Brooklyn, the
prosecutor, Steven H. Breslow, an assistant United States attorney,
asked for an extension of the 30-day deadline for the government to
"The parties are pursuing plea negotiations," Mr. Breslow said during
the brief proceeding before Magistrate Judge Viktor V. Pohorelsky.
Lawyers for the two men, Thomas Rachko, a retired detective, and
Julio C. Vasquez, who was on the force at the time of his arrest and
resigned days later, agreed, and the judge granted Mr. Breslow's
Mr. Breslow, who works in the office of Roslynn R. Mauskopf, the
United States attorney in Brooklyn, left the courtroom without
talking to reporters. A spokesman for the office, Robert Nardozza,
would not comment.
Mr. Rachko and Mr. Vasquez were arrested after they took $169,000 in
cash from a drug money courier on a Queens street on Nov. 26,
according to court papers. Wearing raid jackets, Mr. Vasquez, who was
on duty, and Mr. Rachko confronted the courier, took the cash and
pretended to arrest him, according to the papers.
But a team of investigators - other police detectives and federal
Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents - had the courier under
surveillance as part of a drug-money laundering case and, according
to the court papers, interrupted the theft. Mr. Vasquez told the
other investigators he was conducting a wiretap investigation, and he
and Mr. Rachko drove off in an unmarked police car with the cash and
the courier, the papers said.
The surveillance team of detectives and federal agents, part of an
elite unit known as the El Dorado Task Force, videotaped the episode,
officials have said.
Law enforcement officials have said Mr. Rachko has been cooperating
with investigators, detailing thefts of money and drugs he conducted
with Mr. Vasquez. He also implicated three other men in crimes, two
detectives currently assigned to the Drug Enforcement Task Force and
a retired lieutenant, the officials have said.
Mr. Vasquez and the lieutenant, John Maguire, have both had
discussions with prosecutors, although neither has formally begun
cooperating, several officials have said.
Mr. Vasquez's lead lawyer, Eric Franz, who along with Steven Brill is
representing him, declined to comment, as did Mr. Rachko's lawyer,
Ronald E. Kliegerman.
Prosecutors and the Police Department's Internal Affairs Bureau have
been investigating whether Mr. Vasquez is connected to the killing,
one day before the theft, of a man who investigators say was a drug
informant for Mr. Vasquez and Mr. Rachko, several law enforcement
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Yesterday, as Mr. Vasquez and Mr. Rachko, who are both free on bail,
waited for the hearing to begin, the two former partners sat on
benches at different ends of the hallway outside the courtroom and
did not speak to each other.