Undercover Sunrise Police officers posing as drug dealers have been luring people down to South Florida with the promise of cocaine deals and have apprehended several suspects -- one of them, a New York Police officer who was once named "Officer of the Year" at his precinct.
According to reports, NYPD Officer Philip LeRoy, 28, came to Florida on Monday to purchase what he thought was 10 kilos of cocaine at a cheap price. He was arrested on Tuesday.
Leroy, along with two other men, were apprehended by Sunrise Police in the sting.
LeRoy, who works for the 114th Precinct in Queens and was named Cop of the Year in 2012, reportedly drove down to Sunrise from Queens with Brian Espinal, 27, and Richard Quintanilla, 35, to allegedly purchase the cocaine. The New York Post reports LeRoy was carrying his off-duty weapon on the road trip.
According to the Sun Sentinel, it was his police-issued 9mm Smith & Wesson handgun.
The interesting thing about this particular bust is that the Sunrise cocaine stings are widely known, or should be, by other officers.
This type of sting operation is known as "forfeiture," which is a sort of reverse drug deal, where the undercover officer posing as a dealer will sell cocaine at an extremely reduced price. This is to lure potential suspects but also a well-known type of operation among cops. Sunrise is particularly known for this kind of operation, which has been conducted many times by the police department, and it has seized tens of thousands of dollars in the process.
"You got to be pretty stupid to do this deal in Sunrise," one anonymous New York officer told the New York Post regarding LeRoy's arrest.
When LeRoy was arrested Tuesday, Sunrise Police charged him with first-degree felony weapons possession, cocaine trafficking, and conspiring to traffic cocaine. His NYPD precinct, meanwhile, has suspended LeRoy pending the investigation.
When LeRoy was awarded Cop of the Year in 2012, he was praised for his actions in the anti-crime unit by then-commissioner Ray Kelly.
"As a member of the anti-crime unit, P.O. Leroy has made more than two dozen arrests so far this year for things like robbery and gun possession," Kelly said.
Meanwhile, LeRoy's Fort Lauderdale-based attorney, Jason Rosner, pointed out to the Sentinel that these kinds of stings are frivolous, in that they don't really protect the community because the stings focus on luring and busting out-of-towners.
"I honestly think it's about money," he said.
Rosner may have a point.
LeRoy's bond was set at $250,000.