07/18/2007

NYPD cop arrested for working with gang

QUEENS, N.Y. — A police officer from Queens is expected to be indicted following his arrest on federal charges that he served as a lookout for an ethnic Albanian gang, according to court records and sources familiar with the case.

The gang netted more than $1 million in cash and narcotics by burglarizing drug houses in the city, Nassau County and Pennsylvania, according to records and sources.

Darren Moonan, 27, has been in a federal detention center in Manhattan since his arrest July 8 on federal conspiracy charges. Moonan, who had been working as a patrol officer in Richmond Hill in the 102nd Precinct, was accused in a criminal complaint filed in federal court in Manhattan of working with the gang for about eight months.

In the complaint, an FBI agent stated that Moonan was overheard on wiretaps speaking to other suspected members of the gang about possible drug deals.

Defense attorney Bradley Simon of Manhattan confirmed yesterday that Moonan had been arrested but declined to comment further. The arrest of Moonan and six other men was announced yesterday afternoon following inquiries earlier in the day by a Newsday reporter. A law enforcement official who didn't want to be named said police didn't disclose Moonan's arrest earlier this month because the investigation is continuing. The official said that no other police officers were believed to have been involved.

An FBI official said the six other defendants in the case are believed to be Albanian nationals and that the probe was conducted by the agency's Albanian organized crime squad.

Moonan told investigators after his arrest that he had been working with the other suspects in the case since late last year and taking part in robberies and burglaries of various stash houses, according to the complaint.

"Moonan's primary responsibility in this robbery crew was to provide security, in the sense that he would interact with any law enforcement officers that they encountered in the course of committing their crimes," FBI agent Bernardo Picca said in the nine-page complaint.

"For example, on several occasions, after the crew committed a robbery or burglary, Moonan drove the proceeds of the crime away from the scene, so that if [they] were stopped, he could tell the officer who stopped him that he was himself a police officer," Picca stated in the complaint, adding that Moonan carried his gun and badge when working with the gang.

In one incident the crew stole a safe containing about $390,000 in drug proceeds from one home while Moonan provided security at the door, the complaint said.

Copyright 2007 Newsday, Inc.

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