An off-duty Nassau County police officer unlawfully shot and beat an unarmed cabdriver in Huntington Station after a night of drinking in 2011, according to an NCPD Internal Affairs Unit report.
Police investigate the scene in Huntington Station where cabdriver Thomas Moroughan was shot. (Feb. 27, 2011)
Thomas Moroughan got into a roadside argument with two men on Feb. 27, 2011, just after 1 a.m. in Huntington Station while driving his cab to pick up a fare. The incident escalated when one of the men shot at Moroughan’s cab, striking him twice. Moroughan would later tell investigators he did not know the men were off-duty cops. He has filed a $30 million federal lawsuit against the Nassau and Suffolk police departments and both counties.
Nassau police officers Anthony DiLeonardo and Edward Bienz were off duty and had spent the evening at four bars before the dispute with Moroughan. DiLeonardo said he shot Moroughan because the cabbie tried to run him down, an account Bienz initially supported. Subsequent investigations contradicted that story and concluded DiLeonardo had been the aggressor.
Suffolk detectives Ronald Tavares, pictured here, and Charles Leser wrote a statement for Moroughan and had him initial it while he lay in a hospital bed, on morphine, with two bullets still inside him and with a broken nose. Moroughan would later tell investigators that the statement included information he never said and that he was told he didn’t need an attorney despite repeatedly asking for one. The statement helped exonerate DiLeonardo and incriminate Moroughan, who was arrested on charges of assault and reckless endangerment. The statement was later shown to include events that did not happen.
Risco Mention-Lewis, Moroughan’s godmother, went to the hospital the night of the shooting and heard Moroughan repeatedly ask for a lawyer. At the time, she was a Nassau assistant district attorney. She is now a deputy commissioner with the Suffolk County Police Department. She told investigators that police would not let her speak with Moroughan until after he was arrested.
Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota took over the shooting investigation from the Suffolk Police Department within five days of the incident. In June 2011, the district attorney’s office asked a judge to drop the charges against Moroughan due to the alcohol consumption by the officers and the disputed versions of what happened. Despite finding DiLeonardo’s shooting unjustified, the district attorney’s office has not brought criminal charges against DiLeonardo or Bienz.
Suffolk County police arrested Thomas Moroughan on charges of second-degree assault and second-degree reckless endangerment. Three months later, the Suffolk district attorney's office dropped the charges, citing evidence that the officers had been drinking, and the disputed version of events.
Thomas Moroughan, right, and his attorney, William Petrillo, at First District Court in Central Islip on Friday, March 4, 2011.
Tom Moroughan leaves court with his lawyer William Petrillo after being charged with second-degree assault and second-degree reckless endangerment.
Thomas Moroughan with his wife Kristie Mondo, son Dominic and attorney Anthony Grandinette in Mineola.