By CLIFFORD KRAUSS
Published: February 2, 1994
NEW YORK TIMES
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Five Brooklyn police officers suspected of shaking down drug dealers for cash, guns and cocaine have been removed from active duty in anticipation that they will soon be arrested, police officials said yesterday.
The officers, who are attached to the 73d Precinct in Brownsville, first came under scrutiny last summer when a former officer testified to corruption investigators that the five often broke down the doors of known drug dealers, and then divided their stolen booty in an abandoned coffin factory.
Though known to other officers as "the Morgue Boys" for their choice of a headquarters, the five have not been publicly identified.
A senior police official who spoke on condition of anonymity said the Police Department placed the five officers on "modified assignment" late last week, meaning that their badges and guns were taken away and they were now consigned to desk work. He added that the department did not want to wait any longer for expected arrests and indictments to take that administrative action because the officers might make more trouble in a precinct that remains one of the city's most drug-infested.
Conversely, the official said, if any of the officers remained on duty and performed some heroic act, it could create sympathy among potential jurors and make it harder to win a conviction.
According to evidence gathered by Federal and state investigators for a Federal grand jury, the five officers were part of a larger ring of about a dozen renegade policemen. The officers, who worked late shifts, routinely robbed drug dealers at gunpoint for profits of up to $2,000 a night, the investigators said. Typically, the officers would create fake police calls and use code words over their police radios to communicate with one another.
"They made phony raids, and sometimes they just took the money and didn't make any arrests," said the senior police official.
The accusations of corruption in the 73d Precinct came to light during the hearings held last summer by the Mollen Commission, a panel established by Mayor David N. Dinkins after the arrests of Michael Dowd and five other officers on charges of dealing drugs in Brooklyn and on Long Island.
Raiding Crack Houses
Daniel Eurell, a former officer who was arrested with Mr. Dowd and previously worked in the 73d Precinct, offered a vivid account to the Mollen Commission and the Brooklyn District Attorney's office about how "the Morgue Boys" raided crack houses to steal money and cocaine, which they both used themselves and sold to drug dealers with whom they regularly cooperated.
Philip Carlucci, another former officer arrested with Mr. Dowd, corroborated Mr. Eurell's testimony.
From the testimony of Mr. Eurell and Mr. Carlucci, the Mollen Commission and the Brooklyn District Attorney's office built evidence for a narcotics conspiracy case for the office of Zachary Carter, the United States Attorney in Brooklyn. A Federal grand jury began hearing the case late last year.
The activities of the Dowd ring, along with alleged drug use and dealing in the 73rd precinct, the 30th Precinct in Harlem and the 19th Precinct in the East Village, led the Mollen Commission to conclude that such corruption is "not isolated or aberrational."
In an interim report issued last Dec. 27, the commission concluded that a pattern had taken hold, especially in the poor neighborhoods of the city, that had an "invidious and violent character: police officers assisting and profiting from drug traffickers, committing larceny, burglary and robbery, conducting warrantless searches and seizures, committing perjury and falsifying statements, and brutally assaulting citizens."