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Suffolk Says Drug Ring Involving Police Officers was Informal but Lucrative

Four police officers from three New York-area agencies have been arrested on charges involving the sale and use of cocaine and anabolic steroids, Suffolk County authorities announced yesterday. Ten other people they associated with were also arrested on drug charges, officials said.

More officers may be implicated for failing to report illicit drug activity by colleagues, said the Suffolk County district attorney, Thomas J. Spota, during a news conference in Brentwood. Those cases may be handled with disciplinary proceedings rather than criminal charges, said the Suffolk police commissioner, John C. Gallagher.

Investigators characterized the operation as an informal arrangement among a network of acquaintances rather than as a major drug ring. But the sales were still profitable, the authorities said, although they did not give specific figures.

"They made it a lucrative business," said Detective Lawrence Boyle of the Suffolk County police. "They were essentially making a living selling drugs."

The four arrested officers, two of whom are brothers, had parties together at their homes and on skiing trips, investigators said. They also described the defendants as being fanatical about physical fitness.

The investigation began with a tip about suspected drug activity involving one of the officers, Thomas Foley of the Suffolk County police, the authorities said.

To keep the inquiry secret, Suffolk officials said they went outside the county for help from the internal affairs staff of the New York Police Department. Wiretaps uncovered the involvement of three other officers, the authorities said.

The arrested officers are Officer Foley, 30, of Hauppauge; his brother, James, 25, also of Hauppauge and a state trooper in Stormville; Officer Michael Christy, 32, a state trooper based in Valley Stream; and Sgt. Robert Grettler, 34, of the New York Police Department, who lives in Medford.

Thomas Foley and Sergeant Grettler were arrested and arraigned on Tuesday. They were charged with felony counts of narcotics sales, which carry a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. James Foley and Officer Christy were booked yesterday and charged with conspiracy to sell narcotics, which carries a maximum sentence of three years.

The officers did not engage in crimes while on duty or use their positions to seize drugs from dealers or get confidential information about drug enforcement, officials said.

Among the civilians arrested were Thomas Newman, 29, the owner of the World Gym in Ronkonkoma and the Midnite Sun tanning salon in Bohemia, where investigators said some drug sales took places. Other sites included nightclubs, parties and homes, they said.

Thomas Foley, who was honored as a Cop of the Month by the Suffolk County Police Department three years ago, has been on medical leave because of a work-related injury. Sergeant Grettler has been on modified duty because of a domestic dispute with his girlfriend, city police officials said.

Officer Christy was suspended for 15 days earlier this year for fighting with another officer. All four officers are suspended from duty without pay, and they face departmental charges as well as criminal prosecution, the authorities said.

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