Two former NYPD cops were convicted of stealing money from a suspect during a sting conducted by the department. The "integrity test" on the cops was conducted by the department's Internal Affairs Bureau following which cops Joseph Stokes and Jose Aracena were arrested.
In separate incidents, Stokes, 42 stole $4,800 from a cop posing as a drunk driver, while his partner Aracena, 37, took away $220 during a drunken driving bust on the Lower East Side in 2019.
Stokes Was a Highly Decorated Officer
New York Post reported that in the incident which took place in October 2019, Stokes and his partner Aracena had stopped the undercover officer, posing as drunk driver, at Stanton and Orchard streets on the Lower East Side around 1:45 a.m.
The complaint alleged that Stokes found the first wad of $2,100 in a stash can in the vehicle. The driver informed Stokes about the presence of two more cash filled cans, which the cop, reportedly, threw in the passing garbage truck.
The outlet reported that as per the prosecutors, instead of throwing the can, Stokes took "stash cans" containing $4,800 and hid it under his car which was parked in the 7th Precinct parking lot. He did not report on the recovery of cash to the authorities. Reportedly, Stokes was allegedly caught on precinct security cameras hiding the cash filled cans under his car.
The outlet reported that Stokes was a decorated, 12-year veteran, "training officer" who trained new cops at the 7th Precinct.
Stokes Claimed to Be Targeted for a High-Profile Arrest
The jury convicted Stokes of felony grand larceny and official misconduct, while Aracena was found guilty of petit larceny and official misconduct, both misdemeanors.
Aracena was caught taking $220 by a hidden camera placed inside the undercover cop's car. "These two officers, believing nobody was watching, attempted to use their positions of power to get away with blatant theft," Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said in a statement Thursday.
NY Daily News reported that Stokes had earlier claimed that was being targeted for arresting a friend of then-NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill for drunk driving. The incident took place nearly a year before Stokes sting operation.
Speaking to the outlet, Stokes' lawyer, Joe Murray said that his lawsuit is currently on hold, and he plans to appeal the conviction. "He was clearly targeted. This was all a set-up from the beginning," Murray said.