District Attorney Hoovler Announces Guilty Pleas by Police Officer
Who Sold Handgun and Tipped-Off Target of Police Investigation
New York City Department of Environmental Protection Police Sergeant Accused of Manufacturing and Selling Guns to Those without Pistol Permits Including Members of Outlaw Motorcycle Clubs Pleads Guilty to Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree and Hindering Prosecution in the Second Degree
Case arose out of “Operation Bread, White and Blues” Enforcement Action Which Targeted Narcotics Distributors and Outlaw Motorcycle Club Members
Orange County District Attorney David M. Hoovler announced that on Monday, December 2, 2019, Gregg Marinelli, 38, of Plattekill, New York, a former Sergeant with the New York City Department of Environmental Protection Police, pleaded guilty before Orange County Court Judge Craig Stephen Brown to Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree and Hindering Prosecution in the Second Degree in connection with having sold a “ghost” gun with no serial numbers on it to an outlaw motorcycle club member who was also a Lieutenant with the City of Middletown Fire Department. Marinelli also admitted alerting the Lieutenant that he was the target of a police investigation.
At the time that he pleaded guilty, Marinelli admitted that sometime between June 15, 2018 and September 30, 2018, he sold a pistol, which resembled a semi-automatic Glock pistol, to Paul Smith, who was then a City of Middletown Fire Department Lieutenant. Smith had been a central figure in a New York State Police enforcement operation dubbed “Operation Bread, White and Blues” which concentrated on members and associates of self-professed “outlaw” motorcycle clubs trafficking cocaine and others who were selling pills. Marinelli admitted aiding Smith to possess the pistol by having sold it to him. The gun, which investigation showed was one that Marinelli had manufactured, had no serial numbers on it. That gun, and many of the weapons alleged to have been sold by Marinelli, were “ghost” guns, meaning that he manufactured them without serial numbers, or in some instances were defaced weapons which had their serial numbers removed. “Ghost” guns are difficult to trace and are, therefore, often sought after by those planning to use the guns illegally.
Pursuant to the plea agreement placed on the record at the time Marinelli pleaded guilty, the District Attorney’s office will recommend that he be sentenced to ten years in state prison for the crime of Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree, and a concurrent one and one-third to four years in prison for the crime of Hindering Prosecution in the Second Degree. Those sentences would run concurrently to any time Marinelli receives in Ulster County on related charges. Marinelli is next scheduled to appear in Orange County Court on April 6, 2020.
On April 8, 2019, Smith pled guilty to Operating as a Major Trafficker and Conspiracy in the Second Degree, in connection with the conspiracy to distribute cocaine through self-professed “outlaw” motorcycle clubs. Pursuant to a plea agreement which was placed on the record by District Attorney David M. Hoovler at the time of the plea, Smith will receive a sentence of eight and one-third to twenty-five years in state prison for the crime of Conspiracy in the Second Degree and concurrent time for the crime of Operating as a Major Trafficker. The maximum sentence for the Class A-1 felony of Operating as a Major Trafficker is 25 years to Life in State Prison. Additionally, Smith agreed to forfeit $315,000 that he made from selling cocaine pursuant to the conspiracy, as well as a 2014 Dodge Ram pick-up truck, a 2008 Corvette automobile, and a 2012 Harley Davidson motorcycle that he used to transport narcotics. Smith is next scheduled to be in court on July 10, 2020.
Marinelli was a Sergeant with the New York City Department of Environmental Protection Police, and a Team Leader with an Emergency Service Unit located outside of New York City, when he was arrested on February 28, 2019. Marinelli was accused of manufacturing dozens of handguns and assault rifles, including at least one fully automatic assault rifle, and selling them to individuals who are legally barred from possessing such weapons. It was alleged that Marinelli assembled the guns in his Plattekill home and sold them to others, including members of outlaw motorcycle groups and those with criminal convictions, sometimes delivering the illegal weapon using his marked police car. Members of the New York State Police, aided by the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Explosives and Firearms, executed a search warrant at Marinelli’s home in Plattekill and recovered gun parts, tools used to manufacture weapons, and numerous firearms.
District Attorney Hoovler thanked and highly commended the New York State Police for their investigation given the complexity of the case.
Assistant District Attorney Neal Eriksen and Senior Assistant District Attorney David Byrne are prosecuting Marinelli.
“I am enraged that a police officer would sell exactly the types of weapons that are used to kill innocent people, including police officers,” said District Attorney Hoovler. “The types of ‘ghost’ guns which were recovered in this case are valuable to criminals precisely because they are difficult to trace. A police officer who alerts an armed drug dealer who has proudly proclaimed his status as ‘outlaw’ motorcycle club member, that he is the subject of police investigation, not only compromises that investigation, but puts his fellow police officers at risk.”
A criminal charge is merely an allegation that a defendant has committed a violation of the criminal law, and it is not evidence of guilt. All defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial, during which it will be the State’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.