Former NYPD Officer Joseph Recca, who pleaded guilty to manslaughter and other charges for selling fentanyl to a friend who died from an overdose, was sentenced to five years in prison Monday. Credit: James Carbone

The former NYPD officer who pleaded guilty to manslaughter and other charges for selling fentanyl to a friend who died from an overdose was sentenced to five years in prison Monday.

Suffolk Judge Richard Ambro told Joseph Recca of West Islip that the former officer had violated the community’s trust before approving a plea deal negotiated by prosecutors and Recca’s defense attorney, Matthew Rosenblum of Commack.

"I was a good cop by day who broke the laws I vowed to enforce at night," said Recca, who told the court he deserved to go to prison for his role in the death of Ryan Bornschein.

Recca pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter, third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance and second-degree conspiracy in Bornschein's death. The victim fatally overdosed on fentanyl in 2019.

Bornschein’s mother, Jessica Bornschein of Lindenhurst, told Ambro that Recca was responsible for the death of "the light of her life." She described Ryan as a young man full of joy who loved music, dancing, the beach and liked to make others laugh.

Bornschein, wearing a T-shirt with her son’s photo that read, "He Still Matters," was joined by more than a dozen supporters, including mothers who had lost children to fatal overdoses.

Bornschein said she has suffered from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder since Ryan’s death, as well as having regular nightmares about a monster attacking her son.

The parents of Ryan Thomas Bornschein, Jessica, center, and Ronald,...

The parents of Ryan Thomas Bornschein, Jessica, center, and Ronald, right, join together with their son, Christopher, outside Suffolk County Court in Riverhead on Monday. Credit: James Carbone

"We all know who the monster in my dream is," Bornschein said. "He is in this courtroom."

Suffolk District Attorney Timothy Sini said his office will investigate and prosecute drug dealers, especially those whose product lead to overdoses.

"What makes this case unique and particularly troubling is the fact that he was selling drugs while also serving as a police officer," Sini said during a news conference in Riverhead shortly after Recca was sentenced. "We will not tolerate drug dealers peddling poison in our communities."

Recca is the fourth person accused of supplying drugs to a fatal overdose victim convicted of manslaughter in Suffolk County, and Sini said his office is a leader in the state in using manslaughter to hold dealers accountable.

Sini said Recca had used police resources to sell drugs and seemed unconcerned about Bornschein’s well-being before his arrest.

"Just days prior to the death of the victim, the victim lay in the hospital recovering from a non-fatal overdose," Sini said. "Recca was looking for the victim. In fact, he was looking for his money from a drug sale and he texted the victim saying, ‘Where are you?’ The victim replied, ‘I’m in the hospital, I just OD’d.’ And what was Recca’s immediate response? ‘Where is my money?’"

Prosecutions against Recca’s two alleged co-conspirators are still pending. Mike Sosa, 25, of Brentwood, faces drug and weapons charges and is due back in court on May 14. Michael Corbett, 54, of West Islip, charged with conspiracy and a drug charge, is scheduled to return to court on May 21.

Sini called on New York State lawmakers to pass a "death by dealer" law that will allow prosecutors to charge drug distributors with homicide if they sell drugs that lead to a fatal overdose. Sini said the bill could be modeled on an existing federal law.

"If you sell drugs and death results from the use of those drugs, you are held responsible for the death," Sini said.

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