'Halloween' cop in more trouble
by Staten Island Advance
Wednesday February 13, 2008, 9:08 PM
One of the two cops accused of abandoning a 14-year-old boy in a West Shore marsh on Halloween is in trouble again, this time charged with illegally using a police computer to dig up dirt on his young accuser.
Richard Danese, 28, of Great Kills, was arrested this afternoon on charges he used a sergeant's login information to access police records, then looked up personal information of 14-year-old Reyshawn Moreno and his family, law enforcement sources said today.
Moreno had accused Danese and his partner in the 120th Precinct, Thomas Elliassen, also 28 ands from Great Kills, of taking him to some swampland near Chelsea and River roads, stripping him down to his socks and shorts and leaving him there to teach him a lesson after an alleged egg-throwing incident.
Since then, Danese and Elliassen have been placed on modified duty.
After hearing of Danese's arrest , Moreno's lawyer, Jason Leventhal, called on the NYPD to take a deeper look at the officer's conduct on the job.
"Once again, Richard Danese has demonstrated his absolute disregard for the law. Clearly, he has no moral compass. The thought that this man was issued a badge and a gun is frightening," Leventhal said. "The Police Department should investigate every one of Danese's arrests, every civilian complaint, and every stop and frisk to determine how many citizens are victims of his rogue conduct."
Danese was most recently stationed in an administrative post in the Manhattan court section, a police spokeswoman said. Since his arrest today, he's been suspended without pay. That suspension can last up to 30 days, the NYPD spokeswoman said.
He's expected to be arraigned in Brooklyn Criminal Court sometime tonight on charges of computer trespass -- a felony punishable by 1 1/3 to 4 years in prison if convicted at trial -- and official misconduct, a misdemeanor.
Sources say he used a computer in the Brooklyn Gangs Squad office, though it's not clear whether he was assigned there at any point after being pulled from the 120th Precinct, where he used the police computer to conduct the illegal search, sources said.
It's also not clear when Danese allegedly accessed the info, or how he got caught, according to those sources.
Danese and Elliassen are currently facing grand jury proceedings in connection with the Halloween incident.
Though initially charged with a misdemeanor count of unlawful imprisonment, the grand jury is sorting through whether the duo should be charged with a felony.
William J. Smith, a spokesman for District Attorney Daniel Donovan, confirmed that grand jury proceedings "have been commenced" against the two officers, but declined to comment further.
Following the Halloween incident, Leventhal has called for Elliassen and Danese to be charged with kidnapping, which carries a maximum 5 to 25 years in prison. The grand jury may also be mulling first-degree unlawful imprisonment charges, a lesser felony that carries one and one-third to four years in prison.
Elliassen and Danese allegedly caught the teen throwing eggs at a car at around 8:30 p.m. on Halloween, on the corner of Arlington Place and South Avenue in Mariners Harbor. Instead of arresting him, they put him in the back seat of their cruiser and drove him to the swamp instead of the 120th Precinct stationhouse.
The way Leventhal tells it, the two cops ordered Moreno out of the car and onto his chest and jabbed him repeatedly in the ribs with their boots while his hands were cuffed behind him. They decided to abandoned him after a call came over the police radio, Leventhal said, uncuffing him and stripping him to his socks and gym shorts.
Moreno put his shirt and sneakers back on and took off running down the railroad tracks, the lawyer said. But when he spotted headlights on the road near the tracks, he thought the two cops had come back and removed his white shirt and sneakers to run through the darkness undetected.
He ended up in the Burlington Coat Factory mall, where he found a security guard to help him.
--- Contributed by John Annese