By ARTHUR CHI'EN and PIX11 NEWSROOM
7:14 PM PDT, October 17, 2011
NEW YORK (PIX11)
NYPD officer Michael Daragjati was arrested Monday and denied bail as he was charged with insurance fraud, extortion and violating the civil rights of an African-American with a false arrest.
Daragjati, of Staten Island, is an 8 year veteran of the NYPD. Originally under surveillance as part of an investigation into supposed ties to a drug dealer, recordings allegedly uncovered insurance fraud and an incident where the 32 year old ordered 8 men to beat up a man he suspected stole snowplow equipment from his construction/snow removal business.
It was while he was on-duty that federal prosecutors say Daragjati stopped an African-American man in the Stapleton neighborhood, without probable cause. When the search yielded neither a weapon nor contraband, the man asked for Daragjati's badge number and name. The officer is then accused of fabricating a resisting arrest charge, which he repeated in sworn testimony the following day. All the while, investigators were already recording his conversations, many in which he used racial slurs to describe the man that he arrested. The conversations included an exchange with a woman in which he said of waiting in court to see the resisting arrest charged carried out, "Yeah, I got there at like 10 o'clock, and I was like, f****n, I sat there for a couple of hours by the time I got it all done but, fried another n****r."
He was also recorded expressing worry that he would be caught "throw[ing] somebody a beating," and admitting that he had been "skating it for a long time."
According to a indictment handed down in federal court today, the man Daragjati arrested was held for 36 hours, and ended up pleading guilty to avoid being sent to Riker's Island where he would be held for several more "days if not weeks."
The officer is also being charged with violent extortion in a separate incident in March where Daragjati is alleged to have ordered a beating after accusing a man of stealing one of his snow plows. Daragjati learned during the sting that federal agents were investigating, and was recorded saying that "If something happens, these guys are dead."
The statements led a Federal Judge in Eastern District to deny bail for the officer today. His PBA appointed defense attorney Michael Martinez asked for an additional hearing Wednesday to try for bail again.
The wire fraud case is also related to Daragjati's snow plow business. According to the FBI, he ordered one of his employees to intentionally damage one of the plows in order to collect insurance money.
"As charged in the complaint, this defendant's egregious conduct caused both direct and indirect harm," said FBI Assistant Director in-Charge Fedarcyk. "He allegedly abused his position as a police officer to arrest someone under false pretenses, and committed fraud and violence."
If convicted on all counts, Daragjati faces a maximum of 21 years in prison and more than $600,000 in fines.
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