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‘Mastermind’ Behind Robbery That Left Officer Peter Figoski Dead Found Guilty

Nelson Morales Faces 25 Years To Life
Detective Peter Figoski (credit: Handout)

Detective Peter Figoski (credit: Handout)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A jury returned a guilty verdict Friday against the man prosecutors said was the mastermind behind the robbery that ended with the fatal shooting of NYPD Officer Peter Figoski.

Nelson Morales, 29, was convicted of second degree murder and burglary.

He faces 25 years to life at sentencing.

Morales did not fire the fatal shot, but prosecutors said he planned the armed robbery of a marijuana dealer who lived in his uncle’s basement. Under state law, if someone is killed during a felony, the person who committed that felony can also be charged with murder.

Figoski responded to a 911 call as part of a backup team, and was shot in the face when he came down the narrow basement steps.

The gunman who killed Figoski, Lamont Pride, was sentenced to 45 years to life in prison back in February.

“It is gratifying that the jury had the courage to hold Nelson Morales criminally responsible for the murder of police officer Peter Figoski and for the burglary Morales and his crew committed,” Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch said. “Morales was the genesis of the burglary that resulted in the loss of a fine man and police officer. We thank the residents of Brooklyn who sat on the jury, listened attentively and came to a just decision.”

Prosecutors told jurors that even in the chaos, Morales was one cool customer, claiming he was a victim of the crime.

Prosecutors said Figoski, who was undercover, never even drew his own weapon.

Pride’s alleged getaway driver, Michael Velez, was found not guilty of first- and second-degree burglary. Velez said he didn’t know he was driving the men to a robbery.

Another man, Kevin Santos, 32, is also charged in the murder. Santos was tried alongside Morales, and a separate jury will start deliberations in his case next week.

A fifth suspect, Ariel Tejada, testified against the others as part of a plea deal that gave him a lesser sentence.

More than 15,000 mourners turned out for Figoski’s funeral in December. Mayor Michael Bloomberg promoted Figoski to detective posthumously.

Figoski is survived by daughters Christine, Caitlyn, Caroline and Corrine. More than $600,000 was raised for a scholarship fund to help pay for their education.

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