Yonkers Police Officers Charged With Lying About Drugs to Obtain Search Warrant

By Victoria Kim 10/21/14

Dario Tena fell 30 feet to his death after Christian Koch and Neil Vera lied to a judge in order to obtain a warrant.

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Two former Yonkers narcotics officers were indicted on multiple charges earlier this month, including making a false statement on their application for a warrant to search a suspect’s apartment in March.

In March, Detective Christian Koch and Officer Neil Vera told a Yonkers City Court Judge that drug dealing was taking place at the suspect’s apartment building. Based on this information, the judge granted a search warrant. When police raided the third floor apartment, the suspect Dario Tena went out the window, falling more than 30 feet to his death.

Vera is accused of asking a witness to lie to investigators and submit a false written statement to police claiming he had purchased drugs at the location. Both men are charged with one felony count of perjury and official misconduct.

A subsequent investigation by the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office led prosecutors to dismiss unrelated drug charges against 15 defendants in 12 separate cases that Vera and/or Koch were involved in. However, it is unknown whether the investigation determined that the men lied in other cases.

If convicted of perjury, the officers face up to four years in prison. However, they were not charged in the death of Tena. Vera and Koch pleaded not guilty and have been released without bail on the condition that they surrender their weapons to Yonkers police.

The head of the police union Detective Keith Olsen and nearly three dozen other Yonkers police officers attended Vera and Koch’s arraignment earlier this month in solidarity. “With a combined 20 years of police experience, they are the most highly decorated officers we have,” Olsen said. “For their entire careers they have been doing everything they can to keep our city safe and they deserve the benefit of the doubt.”

Both men are due back in court on Tuesday.

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