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N.Y. cop accused of hiring hit man to kill witness

From Pauline Kim, CNN
updated 4:12 PM EDT, Fri July 13, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A New York Police officer and his wife tried to arrange the killing, prosecutors say
  • "We're very shocked" at the charges, Officer Jose Ramos' attorney says
  • Ramos has been in jail since October after being accused of involvement with drug dealers

New York (CNN) -- A veteran New York policeman, jailed since October after being accused of involvement with drug dealers, is now charged with plotting to kill a witness who was to testify against him.

Officer Jose Ramos, from the NYPD's 40th Precinct in the Bronx, was charged Thursday along with his wife, Wanda Abreu, who is accused of using Ramos' pension money to pay off a hit man. The district attorney's office did not identify the hit man or the witness.

"Ramos once said, without him (the witness), there is no case. And so they began conspiring to have that witness killed," Omer Wiczyk, assistant Bronx district attorney, testified in court. "He said explicitly: Go ahead, do it; but do it right away."

Both Ramos and Abreu pleaded not guilty.

"We're very shocked and my client denies all these charges, and we're going to fight them," Dawn Florio, Ramos' defense attorney, said Thursday.

The Bronx district attorney's office said in a news release that the couple attempted to arrange the killing "through face-to-face meetings and telephone calls, some of which were recorded at a detention facility on Rikers Island, where Ramos is awaiting trial."

Court papers say the conversations took place between September and May.

Ramos and Abreu were charged with three counts of conspiracy in the second degree, and one of criminal solicitation in the second degree. If convicted of conspiracy, the most serious of the charges, they could be sentenced to up to 25 years in prison, officials said.

Ramos already faced numerous charges of attempted robbery, attempted grand larceny, transportation of what he believed to be drugs to drug dealers and revealing the identity of a confidential source. Those actions are alleged to have occurred from March to November 2009.

He was investigated after an anonymous tip to police.

Prosecutors say they also stumbled upon an alleged ticket-fixing scandal over the course of the investigation of Ramos, and officials have since accused 16 other police officers of getting rid of tickets for friends or family.

The ticket-fixing charges are unrelated to Ramos.

Bail for Ramos from the charges filed against him in October remains at $500,000 cash.

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