A former New York City police officer was sentenced to two years in prison today for his part in a plan to illegally transport guns, cigarettes and slot machines across state lines.
Marco Venezia, a 20-year veteran of the NYPD according to U.S. District Judge Sidney H. Stein, pleaded guilty in February to illegally transporting about $1 million worth of guns and merchandise. He was one of 12 men, including eight active-duty and retired police officers, charged in the scheme last October.
In Manhattan federal court today, Stein called Venezia’s a “troubling case” and said he was surprised that the Probation Department recommended Venezia be sentenced to less than the term of 2 1/2 provided for in federal guidelines.
“It really undermines people’s respect for the police force in general, which is a dangerous thing to happen,” Stein said. “You have a number of excellent qualities, but a message does have to be sent that the police cannot violate their oath.”
Before the sentence was imposed, Venezia told the court he is “ashamed and disgraced” by his conduct, and apologized to his family and fellow officers .
Conversations recorded by an FBI informant revealed the conspiracy, according to court records. Venezia and his alleged co-conspirators transported M-16 rifles, a shotgun, 16 handguns, six slot machines and thousands of cartons of cigarettes, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement.
Venezia already has forfeited $8,000 to the government. He will be subject to two years of supervised release after his prison term.
Venezia was ordered to report prison on Sept. 28.
“Use the time in prison as effectively as you can,” Stein told Venezia. “Use it to try to figure out what went wrong and why. When you get out, you can rebuild your life.”
The case is U.S. v. Venezia, 12-cr-00156, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).
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