Two NYPD officers were arrested for allegedly stealing cash during an “integrity test” held by the department, prosecutors announced Tuesday.
Police Officer Joseph Stokes, 40, was charged with grand larceny and official misconduct, and Officer Jose Aracena, 35, was charged with petit larceny and official misconduct.
“These officers are accused of stealing from someone they believed to be the perpetrator of a crime – in other words, someone who might have been met with disbelief had they come forward to report a theft by police officers,” said District Attorney Cyrus Vance. “Crimes committed by members of law enforcement threaten the essential public trust that our communities place in us, and will be vigorously prosecuted by my Office’s Public Corruption Unit.”
According to charges, at 1:45 a.m. on Oct. 20, 2019, the NYPD performed an integrity test on Stokes and Aracena. During the test, the officers arrested an undercover officer, who was posing as an intoxicated driver, at a traffic stop on Stanton and Orchard Streets on the Lower East Side.
During the arrest, Stokes and Aracena brought the undercover officer to the 7th Precinct stationhouse for processing and they allegedly separately searched the “perp’s” car. During the search, Stokes allegedly found several “stash cans” – hollow containers of hidden money disguised as fruit punch – containing approximately $4,800. Surveillance footage allegedly shows Stokes hiding the cans under his own car in the parking lot.
The money was never vouchered and members of the Internal Affairs Bureau found the two cans under Stokes’s car later that day.
Hidden cameras inside the undercover officers’s car allegedly captured Aracena taking $120 from inside the glove compartment and $100 from the center console while he searched the car for registration paperwork. That money was never vouchered and Aracena allegedly told Stokes and another officer that there was no money in the car when he searched it.