A former Hempstead police officer, who federal prosecutors described as “a cop but also a robber,” was sentenced Monday to 11 years in prison for trying to stick up a cocaine dealer in 2008.
Brian Jones of Hempstead, was found guilty in 2013 of conspiracy to interfere with interstate commerce and using a weapon in a crime of violence during the botched holdup.
Acting on a bad tip, Jones and two associates broke into two apartments in a Far Rockaway building, terrorizing the innocent inhabitants, in the mistaken belief that a cocaine dealer lived there, authorities said.
In a Central Islip federal courtroom Monday, Jones made an emotional apology before U.S. District Judge Joseph Bianco.
“I’m not perfect. I’m human, and humans can make mistakes. . . . I’m a better person, stronger than before,” said Jones, breaking down in tears. “I’m sorry, very sorry. I have goals . . . and one is to stay outside of trouble,” in the future. A federal marshal left the courtroom and brought back paper towels for Jones after he finished his statement.
Before he spoke, Jones had sat passively in the courtroom during the sentencing, most of the time with his head tilted down.
He faced a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison on the conspiracy charge and a mandatory consecutive sentence of 7 years to life on the weapons charge.
In deciding the sentence, Bianco said he balanced the “horrific decision” Jones made in terrorizing two families with his cooperation in other investigations and his appearance as being genuinely remorseful.
Jones’ lawyer, Paul Brenner, of Manhattan, said afterward his client would consider appealing the sentence but declined to comment further. Eastern District prosecutor Lara Treinis Gatz also declined to comment.
Officials with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said Bianco sent a clear message to law enforcement officials who break the law.
“There will be severe consequences when a police officer decides to betray the very public that he had previously sworn to protect and serve,” Delano Reid, the head of the ATFE’s New York office, said in a statement. “As the defendant remains behind bars for the next 11 years, I suspect he will be reminded of that fact on a daily basis.”
ATFE agents investigated the case with NYPD detectives.
During Jones’ trial, prosecution witnesses said Jones had sought to raise money by robbing a drug dealer after he had been suspended and then fired for exaggerating a hand injury.
Following his 2011 termination, Jones was convicted of illegally selling drugs, including oxycodone, and served 5 months in prison.
It was only after he served his drug sentence that officials learned of the previous failed attempt to rob a drug dealer, Treinis Gatz said.