State police investigators who had been investigating a Rensselaer County drug ring since 2013 executed search warrants in February at five places where they had previously observed extensive drug operations.
Somehow, though, during the warrant execution, they found no discernible evidence of any such enterprise.
Their suspicions at the coincidence resulted Wednesday in the arrest of Troy police Officer Brian Gross, who is accused of tipping off at least one suspect in the drug ring of the pending warrants, according to a news release issued by the state Attorney General’s Office.
“The actions of this officer not only interfered with highly sensitive intelligence-gathering on drug activity, it put the lives of our law enforcement officers in jeopardy,” said state police Superintendent Joseph D’Amico. “The success of these types of narcotics investigations could not be achieved without the hard work and dedication of our members working closely with our partners in law enforcement. It is unfortunate that this officer chose to breach that trust, abuse his authority and undermine a criminal investigation.”
Gross has been charged with tampering with physical evidence, a felony, two counts of official misconduct and one count of obstructing governmental administration. He was scheduled to appear Wednesday in Troy City Court.
Gross had been assigned to assist the state police Community Narcotics Enforcement Team in investigating the drug ring. He had knowledge of and access to investigative intelligence, suspect information and details on the timing and location of the execution of search warrants, authorities said in the news release.
One of the suspects (identified as Person #2 in the criminal complaint) whose residence was searched told investigators he had been told of the investigation and impending search by another person (Person #1) who had been told by Gross, according to the news release.
“According to the complaint, Person #1 admitted receiving this information directly from Officer Gross, who arranged in-person meetings via text message,” the release said.
Further investigation revealed Gross allegedly told Person #2 he had better “watch his back” because “there was a good chance the police would be getting a warrant.”
The Attorney General’s Office and state police began investigating the situation after the searches were fruitless.