A New York City police officer was arrested Tuesday for allegedly abusing his police powers to further his role in a West Islip-based narcotics trafficking scheme, Suffolk County authorities said.
NYPD Officer Joseph Recca, 28, of West Islip, and two other individuals suspected of involvement were arraigned Wednesday at First District Court in Central Islip. Recca pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy, criminal sale of a controlled substance, criminal possession, and official misconduct. He was released without bail.
“It’s a sad day when, after being involved in law enforcement and public service for 30 years, I find myself sitting in the arraignment of a police officer,” said Judge James Saladino, who gave Recca a supervisory release with mandatory GPS monitoring anklet.
Prosecutors said besides drug dealing, Recca also used his position as an NYPD officer to run license plate checks on surveillance vehicles placed to investigate his conduct. If found guilty, he faces up to 25 years in prison.
Also charged were Michael Sosa, of Brentwood, and Michael Corbett, of West Islip. Sosa supplied pills to Recca, while Corbett was Recca’s main runner and customer, authorities said. Sosa’s bail was set at $500,000 bail, while Corbett was released without bail.
The investigation began last September after a fatal fentanyl overdose in Copiague. Suffolk police detectives looking into the case found text messages on the victim’s phone from Recca indicating sale of illegal pills.
Suffolk County Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart said the trio made up the extent of the local narcotics ring, and no other suspects are currently being considered.
When all three men were busted Tuesday, Recca was in his personal vehicle en route to Corbett’s house. Police also found a gap in the automobile known as a “trap,” where pills were hidden, officials said.
“Not only did we take those drugs off the streets, we got them in the middle of their criminal act,” Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy Sini said, calling the case “shocking.”
When police executed search warrant on Sosa’s residence, investigators confiscated more than $31,000 in cash, 367 grams of purported oxycodone pills, and a loaded nine-millimeter untraceable handgun along with packaging, financial statements, and other drug paraphernalia. More than 100 oxycodone pills and $34,850 in cash were seized at Corbett’s residence.
Though local, the size of the drug ring was “impactful” and “significant,” Hart said.
A representative from the NYPD Internal Affairs Bureau declined to comment on Recca’s officer status. The NYPD said he has been suspended without pay. The investigation it ongoing to determine if Recca’s pills were responsible for the overdose in Copiague.
“Our message is consistent: if you’re dealing drugs in Suffolk County, we’re coming for you,” Sini said.
-With Timothy Bolger