The officer, Joseph Moloney, 27, is accused of providing several false stories, under oath, about how the police discovered a gun in an apartment in the Red Hook Houses complex in South Brooklyn in 2016. Officer Moloney initially claimed that he had found the gun when it was another officer — a sergeant — who had discovered it, prosecutors said. Ultimately, he came clean, but that did not help him. Prosecutors charged him in a 24-count indictment that includes perjury in the first degree and official misconduct.
He pleaded not guilty Tuesday to the charges before Justice Danny K. Chun in State Supreme Court in Brooklyn. Officer Moloney’s lawyer, John Tynan, declined to comment on the charges.
“Our police officers are expected to be truthful and honest at all times because people’s fates and the integrity of the justice system depend on that,” said Eric Gonzalez, the Brooklyn district attorney. “We allege that the officer in this case failed to do that and instead repeatedly gave false testimony under oath. Such conduct diminishes public trust and is, in fact, criminal. We intend to now hold the defendant accountable.”
Last week, The New York Times published an investigation into police perjury within the New York Police Department that found that false testimony by the police, known as “testilying,” remains a problem. This year, a Queens detective, Kevin Desormeau, has been convicted of perjury and a Brooklyn detective has been charged with fabricating a photo lineup.
Even as Officer Moloney was arraigned, prosecutors offered little explanation about why they believe he lied. They also did not say if they suspect it had been his idea to lie or if he been instructed to lie by superiors. At the time of the gun arrest, Officer Moloney had been a police officer for three years. As contradictions in his account were exposed, Officer Moloney cited his inexperience as the reason for the error, prosecutors said.
The charges against Officer Moloney stem from an arrest he and other officers made on May 6, 2016, in the public housing apartment building where they had been seeking to arrest a man on a warrant for low-level charges. The officers knocked on the door of an apartment and arrested the man when he answered the door, prosecutors said.
Because it was early in the morning, the man was not properly dressed. The officers followed him into a bedroom to allow him to put on clothes. Officer Moloney and a second officer left with the man to process the arrest, prosecutors said, but about 15 minutes later a sergeant who had stayed behind told the officers to come back.
Inside the apartment was an open black box containing a gun as well as a few bags of marijuana, prosecutors said. At that point, the sergeant told Officer Moloney to go get a search warrant. But when Officer Moloney went to the Brooklyn district attorney’s office to apply for the warrant, he claimed that he — not the sergeant — discovered the gun.
He also insinuated that the arrested man had tried to hide the gun.
“As I was assisting Mr. [redacted] to get dressed, Mr. [redacted] kicked a black plastic box under the bed where the baby was sleeping. I then opened the black plastic box and observed a silver pistol inside the box,” Officer Moloney wrote in a search warrant affidavit, according to the indictment.
He repeated this account, with some variations, to a grand jury, and at court proceedings, prosecutors said.
His story came under scrutiny when photographs from the apartment showed that the bed was set on the floor. At that point, Officer Moloney said the suspect had been trying to push the box away from the bed — rather than toward it, prosecutors said.
“When we were getting him dressed we’re noticing he’s pushing the box away from the actual bed and we realize that it’s open a little and we see that there’s also a firearm in the box,” Officer Moloney testified on Feb. 1. in a family court hearing.
Asked about the discrepancy, Officer Moloney said it was an error based on a lack of experience. It was, he said in Supreme Court, a “mistake on my part, being my first search warrant that I’d sworn out alone, and just a rookie mistake.”
But in July 2017 Officer Moloney admitted that he had not been the one to open the black box, prosecutors said. He also said that he did not observe the moment that the box was being opened, prosecutors said.
“I want to come clean to you,” he told officials, according to the indictment. “I did not open the black plastic box. I did not see the box being opened by someone else. I wasn’t in the room.”
Based on this, prosecutors dismissed the gun charges against the man, whom prosecutors did not identify. The Brooklyn district attorney’s office referred the matter to the Police Department’s Internal Affairs Bureau, which led to perjury charges being filed against Officer Moloney.
Joseph Goldstein, March 27, 2018, NYTimes, “Police Officer Is Charged With Lying About Finding a Gun”, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/27/nyregion/police-officer-perjury-new-york.html