Monday's are pretty quiet at the Staten Island bar called "Beer Goggles" on Van Duzer in Stapleton. The pool table is idle and the few patrons at the bar are listlessly watching TV.
Talking to the bartender you can see the spot over near the door where a video surveillance camera caught a team of NYPD vice cops back in November of 2007 conducting a raid on the place and handling the confiscated money as it were their personal property. The tape surfaced as part of an Internal Affairs corruption investigation, but the officers in it were not the targets. It's an unsettling set of images that defense lawyer Eric Franz says it raises some serious issues.
After opening two video poker machines with a sledge hammer and a crowbar, a man wearing an NYPD windbreaker counts the cash at the bar. Franz says what happens next looks a lot like a robbery.
You see one officer coming over taking some, and appearing to put it in his pocket. Two other officers come over and appear to do the same.
The video was made by the bar's owner Chris Schaefer unbeknownst to the officers. Franz introduced it into evidence to try and prove that his client, Sgt William Lewis was innocent of allegations that he "gave up" an undercover officer who was working inside the bar.
Franz says the truth is the undercover officer showed during the raid and was seen working with the raiding party. That the tape might implicate the other officers who conducted the raid, he says, is purely coincidental.
A police department spokesman insists the tape shows nothing out of the ordinary. Deputy Commissioner for Public Information dismissed it with a terse statement, "The proceeds from the raid were properly vouchered."
The vouchered money was returned to the bar after the department failed to prove the poker machines were used for anything other than entertainment. They couldn't prove a pay-out.
The bar's landlord, Anthony Radicone, told me the bar's owner told him some of the money from the machines is missing.
"I don't think they gave back all the money," he told CBS 2 Monday night. "There was $2,500 dollars in the machine and I think he got back about $700 back."
Neighbors of Beer Goggles, though, say they are less concerned about the alleged corruption allegations than with the length of time it's taken the department to investigate their nuisance complaints.
Of the owner, neighbor Judith Trotsky says "That's what he's telling everybody, that he had 25-hundred dollars in the machine. We don't know that." She says she is more apt to believe the police officers.
Reached by phone, owner Chris Schaefer said he was unable to discuss the specifics of the police raid because of "ongoing litigation. The tape," he says, "speaks for itself."
Click to view image: 'cb096891fd26-nypd_patch_detail_clean.gif'
Tags: NYPD, Police, Vice Cops, surveillance camera, Beer Goggles Bar, corruption, video poker machines, RAW
Location: Stapleton, New York, United States (load item map)
Marked as: approved
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