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102nd Pct. police officers refuse bribe for freedom

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An alleged drug dealer with a history of criminal violence was charged with bribery last week after he offered 102nd Precinct cops who had taken him into custody on Liberty Avenue more than $4,000 for his release, police said.

Carlos Watts, 25, of 355 Prospect Ave. in Hackensack, N.J., tried to strike a deal with the officers April 3 after they discovered heroin, crack and Valium pills in his Jeep Cherokee when it was pulled over for making an illegal U-turn on Liberty Avenue near 76th Street, said Capt. Thomas Cea, commanding officer of the 102nd Precinct.

The officers refused Watts’ alleged overture and brought him back to the 102nd Precinct station house on 118th Street, where the bribery offer again was made to officers under the supervision of Lt. Joseph Panarese, head of the precinct’s Integrity Control Unit, police said.

“It goes to show this shield can’t be bought,” Cea said. “You hear about all the negatives and mistakes we make, but I think something like this should be known.”

Shortly after 8 p.m., Sgt. Paul O’Donnell and police officers David Hennessy and Lauren Paese were conducting a Street Narcotics Enforcement Unit operation in the vicinity of Liberty Avenue and 78th Street when they saw Watts make an illegal U-turn, O’Donnell said.

Watts was arrested after two white pills later identified as Valium fell out of his wallet as he was producing identification in connection with the alleged traffic violation, O’Donnell said.

Watts was charged with three counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance and making an illegal U-turn, police said.

As he was arrested, Watts said to O’Donnell, “I can’t be arrested, what can I do to get my freedom?” according to a complaint filed in Queens Criminal Court. When O’Donnell asked Watts what he meant, he talked of a cash payment, saying “how about dead presidents?”

As Watts was being transported to the precinct in the back seat of a police cruiser, O’Donnell asked him about the cash found in the Jeep, the complaint said.

Watts said he did not know whose money it was, but offered it to O’Donnell in exchange for his freedom, according to the complaint.

“All the money I have you can keep if you let me walk on Atlantic Avenue,” Watts told O’Donnell, police said.

The offer, in a brown bag, totaled $4,415, Paese said.

When the officers arrived with Watts at the 118th Street station house, the suspect said he did not want to return to jail and offered Cea the cash in the brown paper bag if he were only issued a traffic summons, police said.

“He again made the offer and produced the cash,” Cea said.

Watts counted the money in the presence of precinct supervisors and handed it over to them, the complaint said.

Police then charged Watts with third-degree bribery, which is a felony, and criminal facilitation on top of the earlier charges, said a spokeswoman for Queens District Attorney Richard Brown.

Police seized the Jeep, more than $4,000 in cash, two vials of heroin, one bag of crack, four Valium pills and cellular phones. police said.

Watts was released on $7,500 bail and his next court date was scheduled for April 18, the DA’s office said.

The alleged bribe attempt came as narcotics arrests in the 102nd Precinct are on the rise. In March, drug-related arrests were up 15 percent from the previous month, the precinct’s Narcotics Division reported.

Reach reporter Daniel Massey by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 156.

Posted 7:03 pm, October 10, 2011
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