A New York State Court officer assigned to the Bronx County Supreme Court was arrested Tuesday morning, accused of being a member of a crew that authorities said impersonated police officers and targeted drug dealers for home invasions, making off with $30,000 on one occasion.
Nicholas Giovatto, 37, of Manhattan, is facing robbery, conspiracy and related firearm charges brought against him by members of the ATF and the New York City Police Department’s Police Impersonation Investigation Unit, officials said.
Giovatto’s initial appearance is scheduled Tuesday afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Steven I. Locke in Central Islip federal court.
“Law enforcement officers who violate their oath to protect the public, whether inside or outside the courthouse, will be held accountable for their actions,” said Robert L. Capers, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York. “No one is above the law.”
Delano A. Reid, special agent in charge, New York Field Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said Giovatto misused his position for his own gain.
“The defendant apparently believes that a life of crime would be more beneficial than one of protecting and serving,” he said.
Authorities say the incidents occurred between December 2011 and March 2012.
They say that on Dec. 20, 2011, Giovatto and another member of his alleged crew entered a residence in Queens, falsely identifying themselves as police officers, claiming they had a search warrant.
After they gained entrance, Giovatto brandished a firearm, authorities said, while his co-conspirator handcuffed the robbery victim.
Officials said Giovatto and his partners ransacked the premises and stole more than $30,000 along with several pieces of jewelry. Prosecutors said they targeted the home because they believed one of the residents was a drug dealer.
In another instance, on March 10, 2012, Giovatto and another member of the alleged crew attempted to enter a residence in Queens to commit a similar robbery, this time against people whom they believed were marijuana dealers, authorities said.
Once again, members of the crew identified themselves as police officers but were denied entrance by the victims, according to prosecutors.
“This arrest demonstrates that there is no tolerance for corruption at any level,” said NYPD Commissioner William Bratton said.