Former New York City Department of Sanitation Officer Sentenced in Manhattan Federal Court to 18 Months in Prison for Conspiring to Distribute Firearms and Stolen Goods and Sale of a Firearm
Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that ANTHONY SANTIAGO, a former New York City Department of Sanitation Codes Officer, was sentenced today to 18 months in prison for engaging in a scheme involving the illegal interstate transport of firearms and stolen goods and the illegal sale of a firearm interstate. SANTIAGO was sentenced today in Manhattan federal court by U.S. District Judge Deborah A. Batts.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney PREET BHARARA said: “Anthony Santiago was a member of a conspiracy of corrupt law enforcement officers who not only betrayed their oaths to uphold the law, but exploited their positions as peace officers to carry out their gun-running and smuggling crimes. Participating in and actively recruiting others to a conspiracy that put illegal firearms on the street was the ultimate betrayal of honest police officers and citizens. Now Santiago will go to prison for it.”
According to the Complaint, the plea agreement, the Information, and statements made in court:
From September 2010 to October 2011, SANTIAGO, who had been employed by the New York City Department of Sanitation as a Codes Officer at the time he committed the offenses, was recruited to participate and did participate in the transportation of firearms interstate and what he believed were stolen goods, including slot machines, cigarettes, and other merchandise, across state lines. SANTIAGO was an active participant in the conspiracy and an integral member of the team who recruited others to join the conspiracy and helped transport across state lines firearms, including three M-16 rifles, one shotgun, and 16 handguns, the majority of which had been defaced to remove or alter the serial numbers; numerous slot machines; and thousands of cartons of cigarettes, as well as various counterfeit merchandise. SANTIAGO also participated in the conspiracy to sell his shotgun interstate. In total, the goods that SANTIAGO and his co-conspirators illegally transported carried a street value of approximately $1 million.
SANTIAGO was recruited to join the conspiracies in December 2010 by the leader and organizer of the conspiracies, William Masso, who at the time of the conspiracies was an active duty Police Officer with the New York City Police Department (“NYPD”). SANTIAGO specifically discussed with Masso and their co-conspirators using their law enforcement credentials and knowledge of law enforcement in preparing for and carrying out the illegal transports. For example, in a meeting in March 2011 attended by SANTIAGO, 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 vehicle to rent to transport the goods. In addition, SANTIAGO recruited others to join the conspiracy, specifically recruiting at least one other law enforcement officer, and had frequent calls with Masso to help plan the illegal transports. In total, SANTIAGO was paid $26,000 for his role in the transport of the firearms and purportedly stolen goods.
SANTIAGO was an active participant in the conspiracies, participating in and helping to organize multiple trips. The trips in which SANTIAGO participated included two trips to transport purportedly stolen slot machines from Atlantic City to New York, trips to transport hundreds of cases of purportedly stolen cigarettes from New Jersey to New York, and the final trip during which 20 firearms were transported interstate. During one such transport, SANTIAGO was the co-conspirator who suggested buying a bolt cutter to break locks on trucks parked outside a warehouse in Virginia so that the team could steal the cigarettes stored in those trucks and then transport those stolen cigarettes back to New York. SANTIAGO also conspired to sell his shotgun to an undercover law enforcement officer for $2,000, and discussed with Masso and another co-conspirator the possibility of obtaining handguns and transporting them interstate. During his guilty plea, SANTIAGO admitted that he had knowingly transported what he believed were stolen cigarettes, slot machines, and other merchandise across state lines, had willfully transported firearms across state lines, and intentionally sold a shotgun to an individual who he believed resided in another state.
In addition to the prison term, Judge Batts sentenced SANTIAGO, 48, of Little Egg Harbor, New Jersey, to two years of supervised release and ordered him to pay a $300 special assessment fee. SANTIAGO also has agreed to a money judgment of $26,000 representing his share of the crime proceeds, and has relinquished his interests in guns seized from him at the time of his arrest.
SANTIAGO originally was charged in a four-count Complaint along with 11 co-conspirators, many of whom were NYPD Police Officers at the time of the offense. All of the defendants have now pled guilty and 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 case is being handled by the Office’s Public Corruption and Complex Frauds & Cybercrime Units. Assistant United States Attorney Carrie H. Cohen is in charge of the prosecutions.