Ramsey: DN story ruined bad-cop probe

Posted: March 02, 2011

Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey wanted more than Officer Joseph Sulpizio's badge - he wanted the cop behind bars, locked up like a criminal.

But the 42-year-old narcotics cop won't face criminal charges because the Daily News messed up an undercover Internal Affairs investigation when it recently detailed allegations that Sulpizio had repeatedly stolen money from people he stopped, Ramsey said.

"He will not be criminally charged because you blew the investigation," a miffed Ramsey said in a telephone interview with the Daily News. "The shame of this is that we weren't able to get him criminally because of the fact that the story ran."

Ramsey yesterday fired Sulpizio for lying to Internal Affairs investigators and for having no regard for his responsibility as a cop.

Sulpizio, an 18-year veteran appointed to the Narcotics Strike Force in 1997, hung up on a reporter yesterday when reached on his cell phone.

Sulpizio had been taken off the street twice since 2008 for allegedly stealing money from people he detained but never arrested.

Long before the Daily News ran a Dec. 10, 2010, article about Sulpizio, high-ranking narcotics supervisors repeatedly alerted Internal Affairs that Sulpizio might be a thief. Sulpizio has denied taking money from anyone.

The Daily News began asking police officials questions about Sulpizio last summer after he'd been removed from the street for the second time. In that case, Jose Castro, of West Kensington, alleged that Sulpizio stopped and handcuffed him on April 16, 2010, then drove him to a desolate street, where he stole $500 from Castro, then let him go.

Internal Affairs didn't sustain the theft allegation, and Sulpizio was put back on the street about two weeks later.

In November, less than a month before the Daily News wrote about Sulpizio, Internal Affairs investigators put him under video surveillance.

On separate occasions, investigators videotaped Sulpizio as he stopped two people, removed items from their pockets and stuck the contents in his own pocket. After Sulpizio left, investigators approached the alleged victims to ask what happened.

In one case, a teenage boy told investigators that Sulpizio took about $30 and let him go. In the other, a man told investigators that Sulpizio pocketed about $80 and several packets of cocaine. In neither case did Sulpizio document the stop or make an arrest, according to three police sources familiar with the case.

"We couldn't prove what he was taking," Ramsey said. "We didn't have enough. It made it very difficult."

During an Internal Affairs interview, Sulpizio claimed that he'd never made the stops, sources said.

Ramsey said that he wanted to keep Sulpizio under video surveillance but had to "bench him" after the Daily News article was published.

Attorney Richard Shore, who represents a North Philadelphia man who claims that Sulpizio stole $3,640 from his house, said that the dismissal was "long overdue."

"He's a police officer who had a history of misdeeds that had been documented for months," Shore said. "It's high time something was done about it."

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