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Updated: November 7, 2019

Brooklyn D.A.'s blacklist includes ex-Staten Island cop accused of leaving teen suspect in swamp

By Kyle Lawson

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- Among the NYPD officers blacklisted by the Brooklyn district attorney’s office from ever testifying in court is a former Staten Island cop accused of misconduct in 2008.

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez released two lists this week with the names of officers deemed untrustworthy in court.

On one list is 40 officers who, according to judges, delivered questionable testimony in court. Gonzalez said he believes that in some of those cases, judges were mistaken and the officers had been truthful. Still, prosecutors likely will think twice before asking them to testify in Brooklyn.

Seven officers named on the other list have been deemed no longer credible by prosecutors. Those officers will have a near impossible time conducting ordinary investigations or making arrests in the borough. Gonzalez has not revealed in detail the specific reason each officer was named, though he said his office will likely will be adding more names to one or both of the lists.

A post on the Brooklyn D.A.'s Twitter account read, in part: “This is not an indictment of the thousands of dedicated officers who work in our communities and with us in partnership...(but) inaccurate statements by members of law enforcement strike at the heart of our criminal justice system."

Gonzalez said most of the officers have been either transferred to other boroughs or taken off enforcement jobs, adding, “They aren’t making arrests in Brooklyn,” according to a New York Times report.

One of the cops who made the list of seven is Richard Danese, who formerly worked on Staten Island and was indicted in 2008 alongside his then-partner, Thomas Elliassen, for misconduct following the arrest of a 14-year-old boy in Mariners Harbor. The officers arrested the teen for allegedly throwing an egg at a car on Halloween, then allegedly stripped him down to his socks and shorts and left him in a Staten Island marsh.

The officers later pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct in exchange for a conditional discharge after the teen declined to testify. Four years later, they each were ordered to pay $5,000 to help settle a federal lawsuit, according to Advance records.

Danese had since been relocated to Brooklyn, where he’s now fallen under the crosshairs of the Brooklyn D.A.'s office. It wasn’t immediately clear if there were other incidents that helped land him on the list.

Among the 40 officers who likely will never testify as a sole witness in Brooklyn, but could potentially a secondary witness, is Greggory Gingo, who has since been transferred to Staten Island.

Gingo allegedly made a statement to a prosecutor about identifying a man in court he had arrested three years prior based solely on the man’s race. Gingo later said in an interview he was confused on the witness stand because he had mixed up two different cases, according to the Times.

The city’s largest police union was outraged by Gonzalez’s decision to release the lists publicly.

“It’s clear that Brooklyn D.A. Eric Gonzalez has abandoned his prosecutorial role,” said Police Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch. “He knows that truthful police testimony gets thrown out every day in our courts, often based on a judge’s whims and biases.”

In the Bronx, prosecutors have released several lists of officers with credibility issues, with heavy redactions, but most of the information has come from news articles or public court records, according to the Times.

Staten Island District Attorney Michael McMahon did not respond Thursday to a request for comment about his thoughts on the blacklist, or whether his office might consider doing the same.