Ex-Hempstead cop Brian Jones convicted of trying to rob dealer
A former Hempstead police officer faces up to life in prison after he was convicted Wednesday by a federal jury of attempting to rob a cocaine dealer.
Brian Jones, 41, of Hempstead, was found guilty of conspiracy to interfere with interstate commerce and brandishing a weapon in a crime of violence during the botched 2008 holdup.
The jury of six women and six men in federal court in Central Islip deliberated less than four hours after a trial that began Oct. 21.
After the verdict, Jones turned to his family and told them he loved them, according to his lawyer, Brian Davis of Garden City. His mother, Jesse Jones, then said, "Everything is going to be all right."
Davis said Jones planned to appeal. He declined to comment further.
Jones faces 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 at his sentencing, scheduled for Feb. 26, prosecutors said.
Jones already has served 5 months in prison following an unrelated 2011 conviction for illegally selling oxycodone.
"We trust our hardworking and dedicated law enforcement officers to protect our communities. In violation of his sworn duty, Brian Jones betrayed his badge and disgraced his profession," Eastern District U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch said in a statement. "The people of this district will not tolerate law enforcement officers who abuse their authority and violate the law."
Federal prosecutor Lara Treinis Gatz had said during the trial that Jones was "a cop, but also a robber."
Jones and two associates broke into two apartments in a Far Rockaway building in the mistaken belief that a cocaine dealer lived there, federal prosecutors said.
"After finding nothing . . . the cop fled the building leaving in his wake two traumatized families utterly stripped of their sense of safety and security," Gatz said.
Both associates, a former girlfriend and the former boyfriend of Jones' niece, pleaded guilty in the case and testified for the government about the former police officer's key role in organizing and leading the robbery.
Gatz said the motive for the robbery was Jones' need for money after he was suspended from the Hempstead force for bashing in the window of a car belonging to another man in which his former girlfriend was sitting.
In addition, Gatz said that phone records showed that Jones' cell had been used to call the Hempstead police department to get the address of the supposed drug dealer, based on his license plate. She also said the cell then was used to call one of the other robbers, who had become a government witness.
Jones' sister, testifying for the defense, had said his hand had been too injured in a previous incident to grasp a weapon.
Another government witness, Jones' former orthopedist, testified Jones was capable of holding a gun in his hand.
Davis said his client had no need for money, and frequently contacted his niece by calling her then-boyfriend's cellphone because she had lost hers. The boyfriend, Davis noted, had admitted participating in the robbery.
The government cooperators were framing Jones in order to get lenient sentences for their taking part in the robbery and to avoid being deported to El Salvador, Davis argued. What better way to get a lesser sentence than by turning in a supposedly crooked cop, he argued. "There's a lot more currency in" that, he said during the trial.