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Federal Prosecutors Bring Another Tow-Truck Bribery Scheme Case Against Three Current and Former NYPD Officers


NYPD vehicle

For the second time this year, federal prosecutors in Brooklyn have charged a group of three current and former New York City police officers with engaging in a bribery scheme involving tow trucks.

The first suite of charges, unveiled this past May, were leveled against then-current NYPD officers Heather Busch and Robert Hassett, as well as retired NYPD officer Robert Smith.

An indictment unsealed on Friday is against a different trio: current officers James Davneiro, 42, and Giancarlo Osma, 39, as well as now-retired officer Michael Perri, 32.

“As alleged in the indictment, these defendants disgraced their badges and betrayed the public trust and their oaths as police officers by lining their pockets with cash bribes,” Acting U.S. Attorney Jacquelyn M. Kasulis said in a statement. “We will continue to root out and prosecute corruption by those who are sworn to enforce and uphold the law.”

NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said that the indictment arose from the “third phase of an ongoing case where our Internal Affairs Bureau investigators left no stone unturned.”

“The NYPD cleans its own house,” Shea said. “Corruption is a crime and a violation of a police officer’s sworn oath.”

Though the prior tow-truck scheme charges alleged conduct between 2016 and 2017, the latest indictment suggests corruption in that industry endured far more recently.

“Beginning in or about May 2020, the defendants James Davneiro and Giancarlo Osma agreed to participate and participated in a corrupt scheme whereby, after responding as NYPD officers to automobile accidents, they would steer the removal of the damaged vehicles to the Business operated by Michael Perri, in lieu of administering DARP as required,” the indictment states, abbreviating the name of the NYPD’s Directed Accident Response Program.

That program, DARP, requires NYPD officers to identify a licensed tow trucking and auto repair business to respond to the scene of an accident to remove damaged vehicles for repair.

By law, licensed tow trucking businesses cannot engage in unsolicited responses to the scenes of automobile accidents and solicit business, prosecutors note.

“In exchange for their participation in the Tow Truck Scheme, Davneiro and Osma received thousands of dollars in cash bribe payments from Perri,” it continues. “Davneiro and Osma continued to participate in the Tow Truck Scheme until at least May 2021.”

They are charged with conspiring to violate the Travel Act and using interstate facilities to commit bribery, offenses that carry a maximum five-year sentence, if convicted.

“Accepting bribes as a law enforcement officer in lieu of following legal procedure is against the law and won’t be tolerated,” FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Michael Driscoll said in a statement. Those charged today aren’t representative of the tens of thousands of men and women who serve the NYPD with honor day in and day out and, as such, will be held accountable for their alleged crime.”

They are expected to be arraigned in federal court in Brooklyn on Friday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. Prosecutors are not seeking their detention.

Their attorney, Brooklyn Federal Defender Mia Eisner-Grynberg, declined to comment.

Read the indictment below:

(Image via YouTube screengrab)

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Law&Crime's managing editor Adam Klasfeld has spent more than a decade on the legal beat. Previously a reporter for Courthouse News, he has appeared as a guest on NewsNation, NBC, MSNBC, CBS's "Inside Edition," BBC, NPR, PBS, Sky News, and other networks. His reporting on the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell was featured on the Starz and Channel 4 documentary "Who Is Ghislaine Maxwell?" He is the host of Law&Crime podcast "Objections: with Adam Klasfeld."