New York Daily News

July 20, 2002

Cops Rip Judge on ID Call

BARBARA ROSS and MAKI BECKER
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITERS

The NYPD is furious with a Manhattan judge who tried to force two cops testifying in a felony drug case to reveal the names of undercover colleagues yesterday.

Both officers called to the witness stand at the pretrial hearing refused to identify the undercover officers who helped nab Fabian Joseph, 40, a homeless man, in two separate buy-and-bust operations late last year.

So acting state Supreme Court Justice Dorothy Cropper threw out evidence gathered by the cops - including two $10 bags of cocaine and statements made by the defendant.

Union prez lashes out

The ruling upset the Police Department and the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, the largest police union.

"Revealing the name of an undercover officer would put that officer's life in jeopardy," said NYPD spokeswoman Sgt. Gerry Falcon.

PBA President Pat Lynch also lashed out at Cropper.

"This creates a safety problem, not just for the police officers but for the city and its citizens," he said.

Police Officer Paul Callahan was the first cop to refuse to name names. Later, Detective John Badya also defied the judge.

Courtroom protest

Officers showed up in droves at Cropper's courtroom yesterday afternoon to protest the day's events.

Cropper's stand is highly unusual although not unheard of, according to law enforcement sources.

Typically, judges allow undercover cops to testify using shield numbers or fictitious names and bar co-defendants and the families of defendants from the courtroom.

But Cropper said the prosecution had failed to prove the lives of the undercover cops in this case would be in jeopardy.

Defense attorney Herschel Katz called Cropper's move "very brave."

Prosecutors said they are considering an appeal.