Misdemeanor Heroin Case Against Kenneth Moreno Dismissed
MANHATTAN SUPREME COURT — Manhattan prosecutors dropped a misdemeanor heroin possession case against Kenneth Moreno, a former police officer who was acquitted of raping a drunk woman in her East Village apartment.
Moreno, 43, was acquitted of rape and other charges in May. But he and his former partner, Franklin Mata, were convicted of three counts of official misconduct each for lying about their three return visits to the woman's East 13th Street apartment after responding to a 911 call to help her get home from a cab on Dec. 7, 2008.
The drugs were allegedly found in Moreno's Ninth Precinct locker when cops searched it after he was accused of rape. He was charged for possessing the two glassine envelopes of heroin in 2009 in the original indictment before the case was presented to the grand jury for a second time because of an oversight by the prosecutors.
The drug charges survived and were not presented at the officers' trial. It was uncertain, until Monday, whether the DAs office would proceed with a trial on the charges. Moreno is currently out on bail pending his appeal on his misconduct conviction.
Prosecutors said Monday that they dropped the drug charge because there was "no criminal justice purpose served to proceed on the two additional misdemeanors stemming from [Moreno]'s possession of two glassine envelopes of heroin found in his locker," Assistant District Attorney Coleen Balbert said.
He faced up to an additional year in jail if convicted of drug possession.
Moreno's attorney, Joseph Tacopina, said the heroin was found in a shared locker and that it did not belong to Moreno.
"We're glad that we're able to put this behind us. This is obviously another positive step in the right direction," Tacopina said.
Moreno, who was a 17-year veteran of the NYPD, had been accused of taking advantage of a 27-year-old clothing company manager while his partner, Franklin Mata, 29 stood guard at the woman's East 13th Street apartment.
He testified that he returned to the accuser's apartment several times to counsel her on the dangers of binge drinking and also to keep her company because she was upset. She made drunken advances on him but he refused them and did nothing more than "snuggle" with the half-naked woman, he testified.
The woman could not clearly recall significant parts of the evening but said she woke up to Moreno having sex with her between periods of alcohol-induced blackouts.
Moreno was sentenced to a year in jail on the misdemeanor conviction while Mata received six months. Both were allowed to remain free on bail pending the the outcome of their appeals.