NEW YORK — Thirteen police officers charged with shaking down drug dealers in Bedford-Stuyvesant's scandal-ridden 77th Precinct and selling stolen narcotics were arrested today and brought before a Brooklyn judge for arraignment.
The arraignments began in state Supreme Court in Brooklyn just hours after the officers were read their rights at the department's Internal Affairs Division headquarters and placed under arrest.
The officers were led one by one before Judge Ronald Aiello, who said it was "a sad day for New York's finest."
In addition to being charged with shaking down drug dealers, the officers also face other charges ranging from robbing supermarkets to stealing garbage cans.
Last Friday, Police Commissioner Benjamin Ward reported he had transferred all 27 of the top supervisory brass from the 77th in a purge "meant to recover the confidence of the people."
Ward stressed that none of those transferred were suspected of involvement in the scheme. He said the move was meant, in part, to boost morale and place the supervisors in precincts where they would not have to work under a constant cloud of suspicion.
The first policeman to be arraigned, Officer William Gallagher, stood quietly before the judge as his attorney issued a not guilty plea on his behalf.
55 Felony Charges
Gallagher, a 17-year veteran, was charged with 87 counts of criminal conduct. The charges included 55 felonies.
Aiello ordered that Gallagher be released on $50,000 bail despite objections by Special Prosecutor Charles Hynes, who had asked for $100,000 bail.