New York City NY May 17 2012 A wiretap by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration to obtain evidence against a heroin trafficking ring uncovered a surprising suspect, officials said: a New York City police officer.
A heroin dealer, Guy Curtis, asked the officer on one occasion how to get “gunshot residue off your hands,” according to the authorities. And they said the officer, Devon Daniels, was once heard on the wiretap asking Mr. Curtis for help getting “any working revolver.”
Those requests and others were described in a criminal complaint against Officer Daniels that was unsealed on Tuesday in Federal District Court in Brooklyn. Shortly before, Officer Daniels, 30, was arrested on his way to work. The complaint accuses him of regularly misusing his authority to help Mr. Curtis, whom federal officials described as the head of a drug-dealing outfit in Queens known as Pov City.
Officer Daniels obtained a New York Police Department parking placard for Mr. Curtis, according to the criminal complaint, which was signed by Pathik R. Lotwala, an agent of the Drug Enforcement Administration.
On another occasion, the officer, driving a vehicle belonging to Mr. Curtis, hurried to the site where one of Mr. Curtis’s associates was being arrested, the complaint says. After identifying himself as a police officer and talking to the arresting officers on the scene, Officer Daniels reported back to Mr. Curtis what he had learned, the complaint says.
It suggests Officer Daniels was at the drug dealer’s beck and call.
“Yo do them plates real quick,” Mr. Curtis once said in a text message he sent to Officer Daniels, asking him to run several license plates through a national law enforcement database to get information about the owners, the complaint says. “What u need I got it,” Officer Daniels replied, before sending along a name and address of the person to whom one of the cars, a BMW 5 series, was registered, the complaint says.
The complaint does not describe how Officer Daniels, who had worked as a patrol officer in the 111th Precinct in Queens, became acquainted with Mr. Curtis. But a law enforcement official briefed on the case said investigators believed that the officer and Mr. Curtis had been friends for years.
Mr. Curtis pleaded guilty in January to federal charges of conspiring to distribute heroin. His drug operation was concentrated in Jamaica, Queens, and federal authorities have said he was once stabbed in a dispute over drug turf on Jamaica Avenue. On a separate occasion, his top lieutenant shot at a woman believed to be the girlfriend of the man who stabbed Mr. Curtis, the authorities said.
Officer Daniels came to the attention of the Drug Enforcement Administration while investigators in the Wichita, Kan., office were monitoring a dealer there who received his heroin from Mr. Curtis’s crew in New York, according to the criminal complaint.
The agency began wiretapping Mr. Curtis’s phone in April 2011, leading to the discovery of his relationship with Officer Daniels, according to the complaint.
Once, the Wichita dealer wired $3,500 into Officer Daniels’s bank account as payment for heroin, which the officer passed along to Mr. Curtis, the authorities said.
The complaint charges Officer Daniels with misdemeanors of improperly using the law enforcement databases to which he had access as a police officer. In addition to checking license plates, Officer Daniels is accused of searching a database of warrants at Mr. Curtis’s request.
The complaint does not indicate whether the officer obtained a revolver from Mr. Curtis.
Officer Daniels entered no plea at his arraignment in Brooklyn on Tuesday.
Asked by the federal magistrate judge, Roanne Mann, if he understood the accusations, the officer responded, “Yes.”
His parents put up their house in Queens to secure a bond for his release.
The Police Department has suspended him without pay, Paul J. Browne, the department’s chief spokesman, said in an e-mail. He added that Officer Daniels faced “department sanctions, regardless of the outcome of the criminal case, including termination.”
The department’s Internal Affairs Bureau was also involved in the investigation.