New York Police Department Officer Pleads Guilty in Manhattan Federal Court to Conspiring to Distribute Firearms and Stolen Goods
Final Defendant in 12-Person Conspiracy to Admit Guilt
|U.S. Attorney’s Office December 11, 2012|
Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that Ali Oklu, a New York City Police Department (NYPD) officer, pled guilty today to participating in a scheme to illegally transport firearms, including M-16 rifles and handguns, and stolen goods across state lines. Oklu pled guilty in Manhattan federal court before U.S. Magistrate Judge Gabriel W. Gorenstein.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said, “With Ali Oklu’s plea today, all 12 members of this conspiracy now stand convicted, and the residents of New York, and the fine men and women of the NYPD who serve them with honor, can put this sordid chapter behind them. Police corruption undermines the public’s confidence in law enforcement, and as this case demonstrates, it will not be tolerated by this office or by the NYPD.”
According to the complaint, the plea agreement, the information, and statements made in court:
From September 2010 to October 2011, Oklu, who was an active duty NYPD officer at the time he committed the offenses, participated in the transportation of firearms, and what he believed were stolen goods across state lines. The firearms Oklu helped transport included three M-16 rifles, one shotgun, and 16 handguns, the majority of which had been defaced to remove or alter the serial numbers, and all of which had been rendered inoperable. The goods he helped transport, and that he thought were stolen, included 12 slot machines and thousands of cartons of cigarettes, as well as various counterfeit merchandise. In total, the goods that Oklu and his co-conspirators illegally transported carried a street value of approximately $1 million.
Oklu was recruited to join the conspiracy in early October 2010 by fellow NYPD Officer William Masso, who was the leader and organizer and was an integral member of the team. The trips in which Oklu participated included two trips to transport purportedly stolen slot machines from Atlantic City to New York; multiple trips to transport hundreds of cases of purportedly stolen cigarettes from New Jersey to New York; a trip to Virginia to take part in the purported theft of hundreds of cases of cigarettes from trucks parked outside a warehouse; and the final trip during which 20 firearms, many of which were defaced, and all of which were rendered inoperable, were transported interstate. In total, Oklu was paid $35,000 for his role in the transport of the firearms and purportedly stolen goods.
Oklu specifically discussed with his co-conspirators using their law enforcement credentials and applying their law enforcement expertise in preparing for and carrying out these schemes. For example, in a meeting in March 2011, Masso explained that the men should carry their law enforcement badges during the operation and, if stopped, say they were police officers working off-duty to deliver items that had been purchased at an auction. The group also discussed using their specialized knowledge as law enforcement officers in determining the ideal vehicles to rent to transport the goods. Oklu specifically recommended that the group not travel together in the rental vehicles in order to avoid raising the suspicion of law enforcement. During his guilty plea, Oklu admitted that he had knowingly transported what he believed were stolen cigarettes, slot machines, and other merchandise across state lines and had willfully transported firearms across state lines.
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Oklu, 36, of Sunnyside, New York, pled guilty today to one count of conspiracy to transport firearms interstate and one count of conspiracy to transport and receive stolen goods interstate. He faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. In addition, Oklu has agreed to a money judgment of $35,000 which represents the amount of the crime proceeds and his interest in the eight firearms seized from him at the time of his arrest. Oklu is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley, III on March 15, 2013 at 4:00 p.m..
Oklu was originally charged in a four-count complaint along with 11 co-conspirators, many of whom were fellow NYPD officers, including Masso, the leader of the conspiracies. All the defendants have now pled guilty, and all but three of the defendants have been sentenced. A chart containing the status of each defendant is attached.
Mr. Bharara praised the investigative work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Affairs Bureau of the NYPD.
This prosecution is being handled by the Office’s Public Corruption and Complex Frauds Units. Assistant United States Attorney Carrie H. Cohen is in charge of the prosecution.
United States v. Masso, et al.
|William Masso||Pled guilty in February 2012, sentenced to 57 months in prison on July 20, 2012|
|Eddie Goris||Pled guilty in March 2012, sentenced to 36 months in prison on October 9, 2012|
|Ali Oklu||Pled guilty in December 2012, sentencing scheduled for March 15, 2013|
|Gary Ortiz||Pled guilty in February 2012, sentenced to one year and one day in prison on September 12, 2012|
|John Mahoney||Pled guilty in February 2012, sentenced to one year and one day in prison on October 10, 2012|
|Joseph Trischitta||Pled guilty in February 2012, sentenced to 40 months in prison on August 9, 2012|
|Marco Venezia||Pled guilty in February 2012, sentenced to 24 months in prison on July 26, 2012|
|Richard Melnik||Pled guilty in February 2012, sentenced to 21 months in prison on October 9, 2012|
|Anthony Santiago||Pled guilty in March 2012, sentencing date pending|
|David Kanwisher||Pled guilty in February 2012, sentenced to 27 months in prison on June 21, 2012|
|Michael Gee||Pled guilty in February 2012, sentencing scheduled for February 13, 2013|
|Eric Gomer||Pled guilty in February 2012, sentenced to 15 months in prison on August 2, 2012|