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Risks his life, then he steals

April 17, 1997

This is the second of two columns on the misdeeds of Officer Joseph Walsh, one of the last officers from the 30th Precinct to be sentenced in what is known as the Dirty Thirty scandal.

Police Officer Joseph Walsh of the 30th Precinct broke into apartments and stole thousands of dollars at a clip. In all, he glommed $50,000 in three years. His misdeeds were so voluminous that it takes two columns to describe them. But, as Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Horowitz wrote to the sentencing judge, "Even as Walsh was committing egregious acts with his fellow officers - receiving significant sums of cash as a result - he was also engaging in the most petty of crimes."

Early in 1992, Walsh helped his boss, Sgt. Kevin Nannery, steal railroad ties from a Bronx storage garage to use in the backyard of Nannery's newly purchased home in upstate Newburgh. Then, after Nannery hurt his back lifting the ties, Walsh - to help Nannery receive a disability pension - filed a false report, claiming to have seen Nannery injure his back while on-duty.

On Oct. 28, 1992, Walsh and two other cops responded to a radio call to 546 W. 146th St. and learned that shots had been fired in an upstairs apartment. Arriving there, Walsh heard a gunshot. A child opened the door and told Walsh his mother had been shot. From another room, Walsh heard a baby crying. He kicked in the door, and saw the crying baby and a man and woman lying dead on the floor with a gun at the man's feet.

"Having risked his life to ensure the children's security," wrote Horowitz, Walsh then stole $100 in cash he found in the room.

On approximately 10 occasions, from July to September, 1993, Walsh and Officer David Benitez accepted cash payments of $10 to $200 from drug dealers. In return, the two allowed the dealers to conduct business without fear of arrest.

Even after the Mollen Commission held public hearings on police corruption, Walsh continued committing crimes. On Nov. 9, 1993, he and Nannery arrested several people at 530 W. 152nd St. Walsh took $4,000, which he shared with Nannery and two other cops, Kevin Kay and Thoams Giovanniello.

Walsh's largest theft of money occurred Dec. 2, 1993, after Walsh had someone place a false 911 call stating that shots were fired at 61 Hamilton Pl., a drug location.

Walsh, his partner and two other officers responded to the building. Through a back window they spotted cocaine inside an apartment. Entering the apartment, they found a pound of cocaine, a gun and bundles of cash. Without telling the other officers, Walsh stole three bundles, totaling $13,000, and tossed a few hundred dollars to Nannery.

Printable versionOn June 6, 1994, Walsh was arrested at his home and, as Horowitz's letter delicately put it, "was provided an opportunity to cooperate."

Walsh agreed.

Four days later, on June 10, 1994, the government arranged for Walsh to attend a baseball game at Shea Stadium with Giovanniello and Kay. Walsh was fitted with a recording device and given a beeper transmitter.

Although he was instructed not to drink alcohol, he got drunk with Kay and Giovanniello in the Shea parking lot. As they entered the stadium, the two discovered Walsh's beeper transmitter in his pocket. To allay their concerns, Walsh threw it in the garabage, although he kept the hidden recorder, which he didn't realize was recording.

Later, after leaving the stadium, the officers returned to the car. Kay placed his gun on the dashboard. Kay and Giovanniello asked Walsh if he was cooperating. After a silence, Kay said that what Walsh had done was far worse than anything Kay and Giovanniello had. Walsh was so frightened he bolted from the car and across the parking lot.

After panicked investigators searched for him for two hours, Walsh, still drunk, returned to the location where investigators had been waiting for him.

Because of the recording Walsh had inadverently made, Kay and Giovanniello were arrested and also agreed to cooperate. Giovanniello was sentenced to 6 months in prison, Kay to a year.

Walsh was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Charles Haight Jr. last month to 6 months in prison after pleading guilty to perjury, tax evasion and civil rights conspiracy charges.

Today District Judge Lawrence McKenna is to sentence Sgt. Nannery, the last of the Dirty Thirty cops.

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Email Leonard Levitt at llevitt@nypdconfidential.com

© 1997 Newsday, Inc. Reprinted with permission.