2 more narcs taken off the street in corruption probe

Posted: November 20, 2009

The Internal Affairs Bureau has stripped two more narcotics officers of their police powers and service weapons in connection with an expanding federal-local investigation into allegations of perjury and misconduct, including fabrication of evidence.

In all, five officers have been taken off the street since February, when the Daily News first reported that Officer Jeffrey Cujdik allegedly instructed his longtime informant to lie about drug buys so that Cujdik could obtain search warrants to enter the homes of suspected dealers.

The five officers are Cujdik; his brother, Richard; Thomas Tolstoy; Robert McDonnell Jr., and Thomas Deabler. Only one of the five - Richard Cujdik - has been permitted to keep his weapon while being relegated to desk duty.

Internal Affairs Chief Inspector Anthony DiLacqua said yesterday that the four officers ordered to give up their weapons "are somehow implicated."

"We obviously don't take a gun for no reason at all," DiLacqua said. "The investigation gets ramped up to the point where there is more concern . . . It's in the best interest of the department."

McDonnell and Deabler are the latest to hand in their guns, doing so in mid-September, DiLacqua said.

"It doesn't mean that they will be terminated, arrested or face any disciplinary action," DiLacqua said. "As the investigation is ongoing, some may be returned to full duty."

No officer has been charged with a crime. All have declined comment or did not respond to calls from the Daily News. Jeffrey Cujdik's attorney has maintained that his client has done nothing wrong.

The FBI-led investigation is now in its ninth month and is not expected to wrap up before year's end.

"You've got to appreciate the size and depth of this investigation. It's a very complicated investigation," DiLacqua said. "There's lots of confidential informants to interview, lots of [search] warrants to go through, and lots of people who've been arrested. These things take time. . . . Information is still coming in."

The investigation began with allegations that Jeffrey Cujdik and fellow squad members, all veterans of the elite Narcotics Field Unit, sometimes lied on search-warrant applications. As a result, scores of drug cases are on hold or have been thrown out.

In March, the investigation expanded after the Daily News detailed allegations that Cujdik and other officers cut wires to video-surveillance cameras during raids of corner grocery stores selling tiny ziplock bags, which police consider drug paraphernalia.

After the cameras went dark, thousands of dollars in cash and merchandise went missing, merchants alleged.

In June, the Daily News described claims of three women who said they had been sexually violated by Officer Thomas Tolstoy during drug raids in their homes.

Jeffrey Cujdik was the first to be placed on desk duty - in February. His brother, Richard, and McDonnell were taken off the street in April, but were permitted to keep their weapons. Tolstoy followed in May.

On Sept. 15, McDonnell was ordered to turn in his gun and was transferred from a desk job at narcotics headquarters to the Police Administration Building, where he takes minor reports over the phone, DiLacqua said.

The next day, Sept. 16, Deabler was told to relinquish his gun. Deabler is not working due to an on-the-job injury suffered months ago. He's not expected to return to the force.

"He will be separating from the department unrelated to the investigation," DiLacqua said. "He is expected to retire on disability."

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