CENTRAL ISLIP, Long Island (WABC) -- An NYPD officer has been arrested for his alleged involvement in a drug ring on Long Island.
Officer Joseph Recca, 28, of West Islip, was arraigned Wednesday and is accused of selling oxycodone-hydrochloride pills.
Michael Sosa, of Brentwood, and Michael Corbett, of West Islip, were also arrested. All three are charged with conspiracy, drug sales and drug possession.
"This is an NYPD officer who, along with two co-conspirators, was allegedly involved in operating a local drug distribution network in our community, which is very disturbing," District Attorney Tim Sini said. "Our message is consistent: If you are dealing drugs in Suffolk County, we are coming for you, and no one is above the law. No matter what position you hold in our community, we will hold you accountable if you violate the law."
Prosecutors said they learned of Recca's alleged involvement after going through the phone of a man who died of an overdose in Copiague in September. They said they found texts between the victim and Recca -- a three-year NYPD veteran assigned to the 25th Precinct in Harlem -- and that it was clear the victim had been obtaining pills through Recca.
"Policing is a privilege," NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said. "Corruption, in all forms, is intolerable within the NYPD. In tarnishing his shield and oath, this officer will be held to the highest account the law provides."
Eyewitness News reporter Kristin Thorne spoke exclusively with the mother of the victim, 28-year-old Ryan Bornschein.
Jessica Bornschein said after her son's overdose, she battled with investigators for five months to get his cell phone. She knew a clue into her son's death could be on the phone.
"I received my son's phone back in the mail and I read through it," she said. "And in one hour, I knew."
Bornschein said she saw correspondence with Recca, looked him up ,and found out that he was an NYPD officer -- so she alerted the investigators with the NYPD's Internal Affairs Bureau.
"As far as I'm concerned, Jessica is a hero not only to the memory of her son, but to all of us for doing what she did to stop this," her attorney, Joseph Dell, said.
In June, prosecutors began conducting surveillance of Recca, Corbett and Sosa.
Prosecutors said Recca became suspicious that he was being followed and used the NYPD license plate reader technology to run the license plate of one of the cars involved in the surveillance. For that reason, Recca is also facing charges of official misconduct.
Investigators said they seized 100 oxycodone-hydrochloride pills from a hidden compartment in Recca's car. Officers arrested Recca Tuesday as he was leaving Sosa's house in Brentwood, allegedly on his way to Corbett's house.
"Together, law enforcement will continue to hold officers like Recca accountable for the damage they inflict not only on the communities that they swore to protect, but to the badge that we are all so proud to wear," Suffolk County Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart said.
Prosecutors said Recca told police in a written statement that he purchased the pills from Sosa to resell them to Corbett.
Police said Corbett primarily sold the pills out of his home on Hunter Avenue in West Islip.
Investigators said it does not appear that Sosa and Corbett knew each other and that Recca was the middle man and would also supply Corbett with drugs for Corbett's personal use.
Sini said investigators seized pills from the residences of both Sosa and Corbett.
"We are still waiting for lab reports to come back on what we've seized in this investigation," he said. "We would not be surprised if this turns out to be fentanyl-pressed pills."
Prosecutors said the men may have been advertising the pills as oxycodone, but the pills may not have been pure oxycodone.
Bornschein said her son's autopsy showed he had no oxycodone in his system.
The three men pleaded not guilty Wednesday. Recca did not have an attorney at his virtual arraignment at Suffolk District Court in Central Islip.
Judge James Saladino told Recca he was saddened that he had to perform an arraignment for a police officer.
"It is a sad day indeed," he said.
Saladino did not set monetary bail for Recca but ordered him to be placed on GPS monitoring. Recca was to be suspended for 30 days without pay, which is standard, but the department said Thursday that he had resigned.
Investigators have not determined whether Recca supplied the drugs that killed Ryan Bornschein on September 3, 2019.
Bornschein is planning wrongful death lawsuits against Recca and the NYPD.
"I'm at the stage where I'm angry about everything, but especially angry that it's an officer," she said.
Dell said they believe Recca may have used NYPD technology during his alleged drug sales.