Ex-NYC Cop Convicted of Theft Attempt in Jersey

Saturday, May 15, 2010  |  Updated 12:57 PM EDT
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Ex-NYC Cop Convicted of Theft Attempt in Jersey

Siede Preis

State and local police are investigating the discovery of human remains of a Newtown woman who went missing in 1984.

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A former New York City police officer accused of trying to rob a suspected New Jersey drug dealer at the man's home has been found guilty of conspiracy and other charges.

But a Bergen County jury acquitted 31-year-old Hector Alvarez of several more serious charges, including armed robbery, in the May 2007 incident.

Alvarez was placed in shackles and led out of the courtroom after the judge revoked his bail Friday. He faces five to 10 years in prison when he's sentenced Aug. 6, though he will likely receive credit for the three years he's already served.

Among those testifying against Alvarez was his former police partner, Miguel Castillo, who pleaded guilty in December to charges of armed robbery and unlawful use of a bulletproof vest. Castillo, who faces up to seven years in prison when he's sentenced later this year, provided jurors with numerous details on the failed plot.

Jurors eventually deliberated for less than four hours before convicting Alvarez of conspiracy, attempted theft and unlawful use of a bulletproof vest. But they acquitted him on charges of armed robbery, attempted robbery, burglary and weapons offenses.

Prosecutors said Alvarez and Castillo — both rookie officers with the NYPD — got a tip from Victor Sandoval, a New York City man who allegedly told them about a drug dealer who kept much cash at his home. The three men eventually agreed that Alvarez and Castillo would shake down the dealer for $500,000 and they would split the money three ways, authorities said.

On the day of the incident, Alvarez and Castillo confronted drug dealer at his Rutherford home. Wearing dark suits and bulletproof vests, they flashed a fake search warrant to enter his home, but he refused to let them in and a scuffle ensued.

Alvarez and Castillo eventually left without any money, unaware that concerned neighbors had called police. Their vehicle was stopped a short time later as they headed for the Lincoln Tunnel, and both were taken to Rutherford police headquarters.

Within hours, both officers gave detailed confessions about the scheme. NYPD internal affairs officers then took their badges and both were fired that day.

Sandoval remains a fugitive, authorities said.

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