Former NYPD Officer Sentenced to Seven Years for Providing Armed Security for Sunrise Drug Deal
The perks of one’s job are sweeter when shared with family and friends. What lawyer does not delight in bringing his or her children to the office on teacher planning days and seeing them draw pictures on legal pads, then tear off the pages they used and display their drawings on the fridge? Many physicians boast of impressive collections of pens and sticky note pads bearing the logos of prescription drugs bearing the logos of prescription drugs, freebies from pharmaceutical reps who came to visit the office to promote their products. Teachers may have to spend hours grading homework after school each day, but when they finally come home to their families, they often come bearing baked goods given to them by students’ parents. This week’s case involves a defendant who shared the gun issued to him by the New York Police Department for what he admitted were all the wrong reasons. When the drug deal they executed together went wrong the NYPD officer got a harsher sentence than some of his friends who also participated. Here, our Miami drug crimes defense lawyer describes how a police officer from New York got arrested in one of Broward’s biggest drug stings in recent years.
The Charges: Conspiracy to Commit Drug Trafficking
When Phillip Leroy was in his 20s, he followed in the footsteps of his father Ernest Leroy by becoming a member of the New York Police Department. He worked for the NYPD for seven years before his criminal case cut his career short. By all accounts, he was very successful in his work; he won the Cop of the Year award for his precinct in 2012 and 2014. In 2015, though, he answered the siren song of a South Florida adventure and ended up losing his badge and being sentenced to prison.
In 2015, Sunrise police set up an elaborate drug sting meant to lure drug dealers from out of state to Florida. They used informants to set up meetings in Sunrise with out of state contacts who hoped to buy cocaine in Florida and bring it back to their home states for sale. Once the buyers concluded the transaction, the police would arrest them and then confiscate their cash and cars. The operation had just the intended effect, as the informants alerted their contacts to the presence of drugs for sale in Sunrise, and those contacts spread the word within their own circles. Leroy and his associates did not communicate with any informants in the months leading up to their arrest.
Brian Espinal and Phillip Leroy had grown up together and been friends for many years. Richard Quintanilla, an acquaintance of Espinal, connected him with suppliers in Miami who would sell him with cocaine. Espinal planned to drive to Florida to meet the sellers at a warehouse in Sunrise. Espinal planned to give them $200,000 in exchange for 22 pounds of cocaine. Aware of the risks associated with carrying hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash on an interstate road trip, Espinal asked Leroy to go with him to provide security; to do this, Leroy brought his off-duty handgun. Leroy thought that no one would suspect that a drug deal was the motivation for their road trip. He planned to show his police badge if law enforcement pulled him over during the drive. When Leroy and Espinal reached the Sunrise warehouse, they found police waiting to arrest them for drug trafficking conspiracy.
The Sentence: Ten Years in Prison, Later Reduced to Seven
Leroy pleaded guilty for his role in the drug deal. He cooperated with investigators and gave them information that led to the arrest of several other defendants. At his sentencing hearing, he acknowledged that he had gotten involved in the drug deal “for stupid reasons” and apologized to all the people he had disappointed after they had helped him build a successful career, including his father Ernest, who sat in the court room and listened with tears in his eyes.
Phillip Leroy was originally sentenced to ten years in prison, while Espinal got six years and Quintanilla got four and a half. In 2017, Leroy’s sentence was reduced to seven years, so he will likely be released in 2022.
Let Us Help You Today
A Miami drug crimes lawyer can advise you if you have the opportunity to reduce your sentence by assisting prosecutors with an investigation or if some other kind of plea deal is a possibility. Contact Ratzan & Faccidomo for help with your case.