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August 17, 2006
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Prosecutors: N.Y. vice officers charged in cover-up of false raid

The Associated Press   

NEW YORK- Three members of a police vice squad have been charged with breaking into a massage parlor to steal surveillance equipment in an effort to cover up a flawed prostitution raid, prosecutors said.

The officers - Lt. Stephen Wong, Sgt. Kwun Tso and Officer Yuseff Hamm - pleaded not guilty Wednesday to burglary charges in state Supreme Court in Brooklyn. The officers were released without bail and told to return to court on Sept. 19.

According to authorities, the officers arrested seven women and the owner of the massage parlor on prostitution charges during a raid on the Brooklyn business in April. Wong filed sworn statements accusing the women of offering sex for money, according to prosecutors, who said the statements were false.

The owner of the parlor told the officers that video surveillance equipment in his building would clear him and the women of the charges, authorities said.

The day after the prostitution raid, prosecutors said, the officers staged a bogus gambling raid at a building next door to the massage parlor. During that bust, the officers broke into the parlor and took a surveillance camera and a computer, said Assistant District Attorney Sharif Abdur-Rahim.

But a second recording device hidden in the ceiling caught the officers in the act, said Jonathan Sims, a lawyer for the parlor owner who gave the recording to the Brooklyn district attorney's office.

Wong's lawyer, Peter Brill, said after Wednesday's hearing that the "documents he filed in connection with those arrests were accurate."

"We feel confident that the lieutenant and his team had probable cause to enter the location," Brill said.

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