CHINATOWN — The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office has indicted an off-duty police officer for allegedly falsely testifying about his brother’s residency and tampering with evidence.
Miguel Cruz, 54, told lawyers and filed an affidavit saying his brother, Victor Cruz, had continuously lived in a rent-controlled Chelsea apartment for 20 years after his sibling’s landlord took him to court in 2010, according to the indictment.
The landlord said one no one had lived in the West 16th Street apartment for more than two years, and that Victor had not lived with the previous tenant — another relative, whose name was redacted in a copy of the indictment provided by the Manhattan DA’s Office — long enough to give him succession rights under rent control laws.
Victor however, denied the landlord’s charges, saying in an affidavit and in a deposition that “with a few exceptions, he had spent nearly every day and night at the Apartment from 1995 through July 2014,” according to the indictment.
Miguel, the police officer, supported his brother’s claims in a July 2014 affidavit, saying that he had visited the apartment “a few times per week every week” to visit his family, the indictment said.
He also said Victor suffered from health issues that sometimes confined him to the apartment, and would use his own key to check in on him and bring him food. He also stopped by the apartment to “say ‘hello’” and chat.
In a deposition in May this year, Miguel reaffirmed his brother’s residency and stood by his affidavit, according to the indictment, but said he only visited his sibling “sporadically — sometimes once or twice a week and sometimes biweekly.
However, the officer misrepresented how many times both brothers were in the apartment, the Manhattan DA’s Office said.
Both brothers were charged with perjury and offering a false instrument for filing, prosecutors said. Miguel Cruz was also charged with tampering with physical evidence.
Both brothers were arraigned on Dec. 17 and released on their own recognizance, according to the DA's Office. They are due in court on Jan. 13.
Their attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Police said Miguel Cruz was arrested that same day in the confines of the 5th Precinct, which covers Chinatown, Little Italy and parts of SoHo. An NYPD spokeswoman did not have any other details about the case, which she said is being investigated by the Internal Affairs Bureau.
With reporting by Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska.