Cops charged with stealing champagne from festival
Three NYPD detectives have been charged in connection with the theft of almost $3,000 worth of champagne from the VIP area of the Electric Zoo festival.
Jonathan Gonzalez, 33 and Wojciech Czech, 44, are each charged with one count of grand larceny and criminal possession of stolen property, while Gonzalez and Warren Golden, 31, are both charged with official misconduct.
According to court documents and statements, the trio were on narcotics enforcement duty at the electronic music festival on Randall’s Island, New York on 3 September last year, and were in the VIP area when attendees at a nearby table had ordered bottles of Ace of Spades champagne.
It is alleged that when festival-goers stepped away from the table, Gonzalez took two of the unopened bottles – which cost a total of $2,900 – and set them on a table as he retrieved a backpack. Czech then handed the bottles back to Gonzalez, who put them into the backpack.
“In addition to the alleged theft that occurred, none of these officers stepped up and stopped this activity”
The DA’s office says the defendants were stopped by a security officer as they went into a restricted, staff-only area, and were confronted by two of the people who ordered the champagne in the VIP area – one of whom had witnessed the alleged theft.
The bottles were taken from Gonzalez’s bag and returned to the attendees, while the festival security officer notified his employer, who then notified the NYPD.
“In addition to the alleged theft that occurred, none of these officers stepped up and stopped this activity,” says Manhattan District Attorney Alvin L. Bragg Jr. “Public confidence in the criminal justice system depends on members of law enforcement acting with the utmost integrity while on duty and following the same rules that apply to everyone else.”
The New York Times reports that the NYPD has suspended Golden and Czech from duty and that police officials would “initiate further discipline where appropriate”. Detectives Golden and Czech have both denied the allegations, while Gonzalez is due in court later this week.
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