In an unusual move, a federal judge is about to hold a hearing in Brooklyn to determine if two law enforcement officials - a deputy U.S. marshal and a New York police detective - should be prosecuted by the U.S. attorney's office.
In a decision Tuesday, Judge Nicholas Garaufis said he found that both officials lied during an evidentiary hearing in a drug case.
Garaufis scheduled a hearing for next Thursday to decide whether the testimony in May of Deputy U.S. Marshal Dennis Tait and NYPD Det. Adam Heege should be referred to U.S. Attorney Benton Campbell.
"I find the officers' chronicle of events to be a complete fabrication," said Garaufis in his decision, which tossed out evidence seized during the drug arrest of Edgar Matos. "Each step of the officers' story defies credibility."
Garaufis seriously questioned whether the officers, who were waiting outside a Brooklyn apartment in search of a fugitive murder suspect, would have calmly walked up to Matos to interview him as they claimed.
Garaufis also didn't believe the officials when they testified that when they confronted Matos, he reached into his pocket to throw away Ziploc bags that held drugs.
Heege and Tait were at the apartment with a fugitive task force looking for Matos' cousin, Anthony Matos, who was wanted on a murder charge, Garaufis said. After confronting Edgar Matos and taking him back to the apartment, the officers found more cocaine in a cabinet, Garaufis said.
Garaufis credited Matos' testimony, in which he denied tossing the drugs to the ground. Garaufis threw out the cocaine seized in the case because of a lack of probable cause to arrest Matos.
Defense attorney Guy Oksenhendler expected prosecutors to drop the case soon.
"I am excited; the truth came out about what really happened," said Matos, 30, a telephone technician who is free on bond.
An NYPD spokesman said the decision was being reviewed. A spokesman for Campbell said prosecutors were also reviewing the ruling. A spokesman for the fugitive task force didn't return a call for comment.