A former New York police officer was sentenced Thursday to more than three years in prison for accepting cash payments from a man authorities say was an oxycodone trafficker to ensure he could carry large amounts of cash through airport security.
Michael Brady, who in February pleaded guilty to bribery and extortion, was sentenced to 37 months in prison, the U.S. attorney's office said.
Brady's attorney, Joseph Sorrentino, said he was vulnerable at the time because he had recently been told of his former wife's lesbian affair. He described Brady as an honorable man who briefly lost his way for a few months and said he was remorseful.
"He made some very poor decisions," Sorrentino said.
Brady, 36, had said he was told the man sold mulch, and prosecutors acknowledged in court papers that Brady's knowledge of the oxycodone distribution could not be established.
"This defendant, while a sworn law enforcement officer, took cash from an individual he barely knew in exchange for aiding his passage through airport security," U.S. Attorney David Fein said. "This kind of illegal activity is a violation of his oath of office and endangers our national security."
Brady worked at Westchester County Airport, north of New York City. Authorities say he received about $20,000 from a trafficker of the painkiller oxycodone.
Twenty people have been charged as a result of the investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration. Three former Transportation Security Administration officers and a Florida state trooper have pleaded guilty and await sentencing.
Fein commended a DEA task force "for shutting down a pipeline of highly addictive prescription pills from Florida to Connecticut and for bringing to justice this and other corrupt officers who facilitated the illegal scheme."
Authorities say the trafficker called Brady in December 2010 at the Westchester airport and told him that he had been placed into a secondary search because he was carrying $100,000 in cash. Within minutes, Brady arrived and tried to convince the searching TSA officer and his supervisor that the trafficker was a legitimate businessman and that any money on him was legitimate, prosecutors said.
After the trafficker was allowed to pass through security, authorities say, Brady told him, "that is what I'm here for."
Brady was ordered to forfeit $20,000.