(Updates with employment status in next-to-last paragraph.)
Feb. 6 (Bloomberg) -- A New York police officer admitted to taking part in a scheme involving the illegal interstate transportation of guns and stolen cigarettes, federal prosecutors said.
William Masso, 48, of Brooklyn, pleaded guilty today to four counts of conspiracy before U.S. District Judge John G. Koetl in Manhattan, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s office said in a statement. He was fired from the police department as of his plea.
Masso was one of 12 men, including eight active-duty and retired New York police officers, charged in October with scheming to transport M-16 rifles and handguns with defaced serial numbers across state lines.
Prosecutors said Masso met a confidential informant working for the Federal Bureau of Investigation in late 2009 and expressed an interest in getting and selling cigarettes and other contraband. The informant supplied Masso with cigarettes that he said were stolen from out of state, and Masso sold them, prosecutors said.
In 2010, Masso discussed helping the informant’s “boss,” actually an undercover agent, transport and sell stolen goods, prosecutors said. Masso said he could recruit police officers to help with the scheme, according to the U.S.
The FBI supplied Masso and his co-conspirators with purportedly stolen goods including three M-16 rifles, a shotgun, 16 handguns, 12 slot machines and thousands of cartons of cigarettes, prosecutors said. The goods had a street value of about $1 million, prosecutors said.
Masso told his co-conspirators to carry their badges during the operation and tell anyone who asked that they were working off-duty to deliver items bought at auction, prosecutors said.
Masso pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to transport firearms interstate, one count of conspiracy to transport defaced firearms interstate, one count of conspiracy to sell a firearm to an out-of-state resident and one count of conspiracy to transport and receive stolen merchandise.
He faces as long as 20 years in prison at sentencing, scheduled for June 15, although non-binding federal sentencing guidelines call for a term of 57 to 71 months, according to court documents. He’s free on a $100,000 personal recognizance bond and subject to home detention with electronic monitoring.
Masso has agreed to forfeit $50,000, representing the amount of the proceeds of his crimes and his interest in three guns that were seized, prosecutors said. He was suspended by the New York City Police Department’s Internal Affairs Bureau in October and terminated as of his plea today without pension or benefits, Paul Browne, a department spokesman, said in an e- mail.
The case is U.S. v. Masso, 11-02730, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).
--Editors: Andrew Dunn, Glenn Holdcraft
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