Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Fed: Dealer's arrest spooked cop
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — A Westchester County cop accused of helping an oxycodone dealer got spooked and broke off ties with him after learning he was questioned by law enforcement, a federal prosecutor said Monday.
But by then, Officer Michael Brady had allegedly collected $20,000 from the dealer — $300 to $600 at a time — to help him avoid detection while he carried the painkillers or large amounts of cash through the Westchester County Airport.
Brady, 36, of Thornwood, was one of 20 people arrested in Operation Blue Coast, an investigation into the distribution of oxycodone between Florida and Connecticut.
Others included three Transportation Security Administration agents — one of whom was assigned to the Westchester airport — a Florida state trooper and two Westchester livery drivers.
Brady on Monday made his first appearance in U.S. District Court in Bridgeport since his arrest in Florida last week. He had no comment as he arrived at the courthouse with his parents, whom he had been staying with at the time of his arrest. He was in Florida for the funeral of his grandfather.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Holly Fitzsimmons allowed him to remain free on $750,000 bond but placed him on home confinement.
Fitzsimmons told Brady's parents they must stay with him until he is fitted for the electronic monitoring device.
Brady's patrol assignment was at the Westchester airport. He was introduced to the dealer there last year by Yonkers resident Sami Naber, one of the livery drivers, who said Brady could provide protection, federal prosecutors said.
Naber vouched for the cop by telling the dealer that Brady had disposed of traffic tickets for him and other drivers, according to a Drug Enforcement Administration agent's affidavit supporting the arrest warrants. Brady offered to drive the dealer around for drop offs and pickups and helped him avoid detection at the airport.
On one occasion, when TSA agents held the dealer for questioning because he had nearly $100,000 in cash with him, Brady intervened and got the dealer released, prosecutors said.
In a separate hearing in Bridgeport, Naber, 51, was freed Monday on $250,000 bond — but not before his relatives had to return to Yonkers to get his Jordanian passport so that could be surrendered in addition to his U.S. passport.
Authorities said Naber had allegedly been working with the dealer for some time, driving him to Connecticut to pick up drug proceeds and renting cars that were used to transport the drugs from Florida.
The dealer began cooperating with federal investigators in April after he was arrested in a Stamford hotel with 6,000 oxycodone pills.
That same day, he was pulled over by law enforcement authorities while driving with Naber, who was unaware of the arrest but had grown concerned that the dealer's phone was tapped.
Brady learned of the traffic stop and got in touch with the dealer, Assistant U.S. Attorney Rahul Kale said in court Monday.
I heard you were stopped. We're done," Kale quoted Brady as saying.
Brady, an 11-year veteran of the county police department, has been suspended without pay.
At the request of federal prosecutors, the judge on Monday also ordered him to have no contact with anyone who works at the county airport.
Brady and his lawyer, Sebastian DeSantis, declined to comment as they left court Monday.