NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Federal agents on Tuesday arrested a New York City Police officer on charges of fraud and identity theft, after he allegedly gave out other people’s driver’s license information to use falsely.
Officer John L. Montanez, 28, was arrested Tuesday morning in the Bronx, according to U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. He was charged with access device fraud, mail fraud, and identity theft.
Prosecutors said in 2011, a person identified in the complaint as a “cooperating witness” or “CW” told Montanez he’d had his driver’s license suspended or revoked. Montanez allegedly offered to provide the CW with someone else’s name and license, in return for electronic items that the CW would give Montanez using stolen or fraudulent credit cards, prosecutors said.
Montanez went on to give the CW multiple names, dates of birth, and driver’s license information for other people, prosecutors said. One of the people whose information was stolen was another police officer who served in the same precinct as Montanez, prosecutors said.
The CW was arrested last June, and began recording meetings with Montanez, prosecutors said. Montanez offered to provide more identities to the CW in exchange with more merchandise purchased with fraudulent credit cards, prosecutors said.
At one point, Montanez told the CW he should feel comfortable pretending to be one certain victim because “it’s the best, cleanest, guaranteed name you can ever have,” prosecutors said.
During one consensually-recorded meeting, Montanez also said: “I’m not the cop you think I am. I am a piece of s**t,” prosecutors said.
“As alleged, Police Officer John Montanez not only violated his oath to uphold the law, but actively broke it when he himself engaged in fraud and identity theft,” Bharara said in a news release. “Corruption undermines the public’s confidence in law enforcement, particularly so when a police officer, out of greed, allegedly uses his position of authority not to stop crime, but to help commit more crime.”
Added NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton: ““These charges evidence not only a significant breach of trust and abuse of authority but also serious criminal conduct on the part of a public servant. I commend the well-coordinated efforts of the federal and state prosecutors, the FBI and our Internal Affairs Bureau in developing this case.”
Montanez appeared for an initial court appearance Tuesday afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn. Further court information was not released.
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