Westchester County District Attorney Janet DiFiore announced Thursday that former Yonkers police officer Neil Vera pleaded guilty to one count of perjury and two counts of official misconduct, while former police detective Christian Koch pleaded guilty to one count of perjury in the second degree.
Vera and Koch were suspended in October when claims surfaced that they had falsified a search warrant connected to an incident that led to a suspect’s death. Vera and Koch said that they were looking for drugs, but according to the DA’s office, a “false statement was made in an application for a search warrant…the false statement was made with intent to mislead a Yonkers City Court judge in the performance of his official functions signing the warrant.”
Additionally, the DA’s office said, Vera asked an individual to lie to investigators and provide a false written statement to police officers of the Internal Affairs Division of the City of Yonkers Police Department.
“Our department holds our members to the highest standards of conduct, and we will continue to investigate and vigorously respond to any and all allegations of wrongdoing,” Yonkers Police Commissioner Charles Gardner said. “Today’s developments should not detract from the hardworking and dedicated Police Officers who faithfully serve this city every day.”
Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano said he supported the firings of the officer and detective despite appeals from the police union. The mayor’s office released the following statement: “This decision demonstrates our obligation to protect the public and uphold the reputation of the over 600 brave men and women of our police force who perform their job each day with integrity and honor.”
Vera and Koch face a maximum of four years in prison. DiFiore emphasized the importance of officer accountability as a takeaway from this case.