Phil LeRoy likes to live the baller lifestyle. The 28-year-old New Yorker doesn't look like a stereotypical cop: chiseled abs, pouty lips, perfectly manicured facial hair. He prefers luxury cars to cruisers and enjoys the company of attentive, shapely women. But the former Queens Cop of the Year is set apart from the majority of his fellow officers in a much more crucial way: He's been arrested for trafficking cocaine by cops in Sunrise, Florida.
The police department in Sunrise is known for its reverse-sting drug busts, but supposedly halted their operations in 2013 after an investigation by the South Florida Sun Sentinel. Besides the troubling idea of an award-winning cop running drugs up the East Coast, the arrest means that the Florida cops are likely up to the same old tricks, essentially importing criminals for a cash infusion.
"Sunrise PD does this thing called forfeiture, which are like reverse drug-deal stings, where cops pose as dealers selling very cheap cocaine," the police source told the New York Post. "They're known for these kinds of big busts. You got to be pretty stupid to do this deal in Sunrise."
It makes sense that the cops down there would be dying to conjure up some action. After all, Sunrise is home to awfully little besides a 2,383,906-square-foot shopping behemoth and our country's least popular NHL team. The biggest thing it has to look forward to is a billion-dollar "master-planned community." By seizing the money that out-of-towners bring for the supposed drug deals, the suburban department can fill its coffers. LeRoy appears to be the latest person to fall into this trap.
The son of a former detective, LeRoy was the recipient of the Queens "Cop of the Year" award in 2012. But late Monday night, he allegedly tried to buy ten kilos of cocaine with two accomplices. After seizing almost $200,000 and an SUV, cops charged LeRoy with cocaine trafficking, conspiracy to traffic cocaine, and felony weapons possession because he was carrying his off-duty weapon.
When the story on forfeiture in south Florida first broke, it sparked a major debate on police ethics, with the cops claiming they were heroically clearing out kingpins. Not so, the Sun Sentinel found. In fact, they were mostly seizing assets from middlemen who were overwhelmingly Hispanic and down on their luck. By offering insanely low prices on the blow, people who might not normally traffic drugs were tempted to give it a one-time-only shot.
Neither a Sunrise PD spokeswoman nor a special agent for the DEA, which has adopted the case, would comment to VICE about the ethics of bringing a crooked cop from New York to be arrested by a bunch of questionable ones.
LeRoy has been suspended from the NYPD and is currently sitting in Broward County Jail without bond.
Follow Allie Conti on Twitter.