Detectives charged with stealing costly Champagne at Electric Zoo music festival in NYC
May 15, 2023, 4:46 PM
NEW YORK (AP) — Two New York City police detectives have been charged with swiping pricey Champagne while on duty at an electronic music festival, and a third detective did nothing to stop them, prosecutors said Monday in announcing indictments of all three officers.
Detectives Wojciech Czech and Warren Golden were arraigned Monday and suspended from their jobs. Czech pleaded not guilty to felony charges of grand larceny and criminal possession of stolen property; Golden pleaded not guilty to official misconduct, a misdemeanor. Both were released without bail.
A third detective, Jonathan Gonzalez, is due to be arraigned on all three charges later in the week.
“Detective Czech is shocked and saddened by the criminal charges,” said his lawyer, Oliver Storch, adding that his client is a 10-year law enforcement veteran who “loves being in the business of protecting and saving lives.”
Gonzalez’s attorney, Peter E. Brill, said he believed the charges “come from a misunderstanding of the facts, and after a jury has had the opportunity to hear the evidence in this case, he will be cleared of all charges.”
A message seeking comment was left for Golden’s lawyer.
The three detectives were on drug enforcement duty Sept. 3 at the Electric Zoo festival on Randall’s Island.
According to Manhattan prosecutors, Gonzalez grabbed two unopened bottles of Ace of Spades Champagne from a VIP table. Prosecutors say that Czech participated by handing the bottles back to Gonzalez after the latter set them down briefly to fetch a backpack, and that Golden looked on and did nothing to intervene.
Some festival attendees who had ordered the Champagne got wise to what had happened and confronted the detectives in front of a festival security officer, who alerted his employer, prosecutors said. The employer notified police.
The Champagne — worth $2,900 in all — was pulled out of Gonzalez’ knapsack and returned to the guests who had ordered it, according to prosecutors.
“Public confidence in the criminal justice system depends on members of law enforcement acting with the utmost integrity while on duty and following the same rules that apply to everyone else,” Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, a Democrat, said in a news release.
All three detectives have been on modified assignments since last fall. The New York Police Department said Monday it would “continue to pursue the facts in this investigation and initiate further discipline where appropriate.”
Public confidence in the criminal justice system depends on members of law enforcement acting with the utmost integrity while on duty and following the same rules that apply to everyone else,” said
Gonzalez is accused of