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Brian Jones trial closing arguments: Prosecutor calls former Hempstead cop crooked; defense says witnesses are tainted

Former Hempstead Village police officer Brian Jones, 38.

Former Hempstead Village police officer Brian Jones, 38. (July 19, 2011) Credit: NCPD

If there was one thing both sides could agree on Monday during closing arguments in a former Hempstead police officer's trial for allegedly attempting to rob a drug dealer, it was that he was a cop at the time the crime occurred.

Beyond that, jurors heard opposite stories about the same defendant -- former Village of Hempstead police officer Brian Jones, 40.

Prosecutor Lara Treinis Gatz told jurors Jones was a cop who had become a crook after getting suspended and having money problems. Jones' defense attorney countered that two witnesses called by the government were just out for themselves -- cutting deals to avoid stiff sentences and even deportation.

Jones is "a cop, but also a robber," said Gatz, in summing up the government's case in federal court in Central Islip. "How you know Brian Jones is the robber . . . you know that police officers have access to all the tools used to commit the charged crimes, a gun, handcuffs and a badge."

Gatz added that Jones' cellphone was used to get the address of the supposed drug dealer from the Hempstead police department's computer system. The former police officer also telephoned a cooperating witness, who said he took part in the crime along with the then-police officer, Gatz told the jury.

Jones' lawyer Brian Davis, however, said in his summation that the cooperating government witnesses -- who participated in the botched robbery of two innocent families in a Far Rockaway apartment building -- fingered Jones because they wanted leniency for their own roles in the robbery, or to avoid being deported to El Salvador, or both.

"The real motive: Get the cop," Davis said of the cooperating witnesses' testimony.

"There's a lot more currency" in turning in a police officer, Davis said.

Prosecutor Gatz said that Jones planned the failed robbery after he was suspended from the Hempstead police force for a month without pay for bashing in windows of a car his former girlfriend was in with another man.

Jones planned and staged the robbery for "the oldest motive in the world -- the love of money, because for some people there is never enough."

Davis said Jones was not hurting for money at the time and whatever money his client lost because of the suspension was made up by an income tax refund check he received at about the same time.

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