A Rockland County correction officer may be linked to the case of a Greenwich Village couple accused of having bomb-making materials in their home, Newsday has learned.
On Wednesday, New York City Police Department and Rockland County cops seized a weapons cache from the Orangeburg condominium of Daniel Whittaker, who was suspended two years ago from his job as a Rockland County correction officer for an unspecified personnel matter, Rockland County Sheriff Louis Falco said.
Whittaker, 33, is a "subject" in the NYPD's investigation of Aaron Greene and Morgan Gliedman, a New York City couple who allegedly had bomb-making materials in their West Village apartment, Falco said.
Greene and Whittaker are friends who grew up together in Rockland County, Falco added.
Greene and Gliedman stand accused of having 7 grams of HMTD, a highly explosive white powder used in making bombs, as well as papers titled "The Terrorist Encyclopedia" and "Deadly Homemade Weapons."
Police found an "extensive weapons collection" of 21 shotguns, brass knuckles, a switchblade and two stun guns in Whittaker's apartment, NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said.
"What was interesting to us is that we took a sawed-off shotgun out of Greene's apartment, and that sawed-off shotgun is on a document of guns that Whittaker owns," Browne said.
Whittaker was not charged with a crime after the Rockland County bomb squad and NYPD officers executed a search warrant around 6 a.m. on his home at 5 Blue Hill Commons on Western Highway at Highview Avenue.
Whittaker was interviewed by police and has been released.
"When [our investigators] asked [Greene] if he had any more weapons, he said he got rid of them," Browne said. "He said he'd given them to a friend in law enforcement upstate who he refused to identify further. Armed with that bit of information, our intelligence division identified Whittaker."
Investigators are checking handwritten correspondence between Greene and Whittaker for more clues, Browne said.
"That's something we're looking at," Browne said. "To see if it sheds any light to what may have motivated Greene for acquiring the explosives and weapons."
'WE WERE SCARED'
Alba Bhavsar, 39, who lives above Whittaker's apartment, said the officers were forced to break down the door.
"We were scared when we heard all the noise. We didn't know what was going on," Bhavsar said. "We heard a lot of screaming, fighting. They were pounding on the door for 15 minutes."
Bhavsar said the ordeal lasted about 30 minutes. The bomb squad was called in to use its imaging equipment to look into a safe, said Sgt. John Murphy of the Rockland County Sheriff's Department.
No explosives were found and no one was injured, Murphy said.
"My husband went to go to work, and the cops told him to stay back for about 10 minutes," Bhavsar said. "That's when the cops brought the man out and put him in a police car."
Bhavsar saw her neighbor being led out of the building and into a police vehicle but said he was not handcuffed.
Just before noon, investigators were seen carrying a cache of seized guns in brown paper evidence bags. It was not immediately clear whether the guns belong to the homeowner or why they were seized.
Residents throughout the building said the man who lived there often hosted loud parties but was otherwise friendly.
"He never bothered anyone. We always just saw him out walking his dog. Sometimes he'd have loud parties, but it wasn't that bad," Bhavsar said.
Gliedman, 27, and Greene, 31, were arrested after the NYPD searched the couple's apartment Dec. 29 following a tip about the suspicious stash. Among the items seized: a sawed-off shotgun, chemicals used to make HMTD and a replica of a grenade launcher and ammunition.
The couple, who police say were heroin abusers, met in rehab.
Gliedman is the daughter of a prominent physician and was nine months pregnant at the time of her arrest. She gave birth while she was in custody and since has been released on $150,000 bond and conditions that she enter a drug rehab program and wear an electronic monitoring device. Greene is being held without bail.
There's an indication that Gliedman is of less concern to authorities than Greene, who remains remanded on Rikers Island.
"It's unknown at this point how [Whittaker] may or may not figure into our ongoing investigation," Browne said. "There's a connection there. What the significance of that nexis is, we don't know yet."
With News12 and news wire services