A New York City police officer addicted to prescription painkillers stole four loaded pistols from the lockers of his fellow officers at a Lower Manhattan precinct station house and used them — and a fifth gun he owned — to pay a drug debt to a Queens drug and gun dealer, prosecutors said on Friday.
The officer, Nicholas Mina, 31, was arrested on Thursday and was charged with conspiracy, criminal sale and possession of a firearm, grand larceny, criminal possession of stolen property and criminal sale of a controlled substance.
Prosecutors in the Manhattan district attorney’s office said Officer Mina, who had been on the force for four and a half years and was assigned to the Ninth Precinct in the East Village, broke into the lockers of four colleagues in February and April and pilfered the police-issued weapons and a bullet-resistant vest. Officer Mina was also charged with buying and selling methadone, according to an indictment.
During an arraignment in Manhattan, Christopher Prevost, an assistant district attorney, said, “It shocks the conscience” that undercover investigators “had to put their lives in danger to stop another police officer from putting guns out onto the street.”
Along with Officer Mina, the authorities arrested Ivan Chavez, 24, who is accused of being a drug and weapons dealer and who, prosecutors said, regularly supplied oxycodone and other drugs to Officer Mina, to feed his habit. Mr. Chavez was charged with conspiracy, unlawfully possessing and selling firearms and sale of a controlled substance.
Prosecutors also charged Marcos Echevarria, 22, of Brooklyn, with conspiracy and possessing and selling weapons; Meryl Lebowitz, 64, of Queens, with possession and sale of weapons and sale of a controlled substance; and Jennifer Sultan, 38, who lives in Manhattan, with conspiracy.
A sixth defendant, who has not been named by prosecutors, is still being sought.
With the exception of Ms. Sultan, whose bail was set at $45,000 cash or $150,000 bond, the defendants were held without bail after appearing before Justice Edward J. McLaughlin of State Supreme Court in Manhattan.
Officer Mina’s lawyer, David Fisher, told Justice McLaughlin that his client had no previous criminal history and asked that he be released on bail. But the judge said, “I don’t believe there is any bail that would assure this person’s appearance in this courtroom ever.”
Mr. Prevost said that as undercover detectives from the Police Department’s firearms investigation unit were buying stolen weapons, they realized that some pistols were loaded with police-issued ammunition. That ultimately led investigators to Officer Mina, who, prosecutors said, had been buying oxycodone and other narcotics from Mr. Chavez.
Mr. Prevost told Justice McLaughlin that Mr. Chavez “sat really in the middle of the conspiracy” to traffic weapons and had sold 10 firearms over the past few months, including the five provided by Officer Mina. When officers executed a search warrant at his home on Thursday, he said, they found a TEC-9 machine pistol and a sawed-off shotgun which had been offered for sale.
Mr. Prevost said that investigators seized thousands of pills, blank prescription pads and a large quantity of heroin from Mr. Chavez’s home. Also in the home, he said, was $61,000 in counterfeit bills, more than 30 identification cards and credit cards with different names, and tools that Mr. Prevost said were used to deface serial numbers on weapons.
Officer Mina, whose arrest was reported by The New York Post on Friday, has been suspended without pay.
New York Times