Ex-cop Rafael Cordeo and his supporters passionately told a federal judge yesterday that Cordero swayed from his law-abiding ways to help a family member.
Cordero, 53, was convicted by a jury in December of passing sensitive law-enforcement information about drug investigations to his half brother, David Garcia, who was a member of a Kensington heroin drug-trafficking ring.
"This is a unique set of circumstances, dealing with a brother who [Cordero] has been tortured with over the years," defense attorney Jack McMahon told U.S. District Judge Paul Diamond.
Cordero tried to get Garcia on the right side of the law, McMahon said.
One police officer, dressed in his uniform, came to court to support Cordero. Officer Mario Santiago, of the traffic unit, told the judge: "Sometimes, we as a police officer think as a family first."
Cordero, rocking back and forth, tearfully told the judge that when he told the information to his half brother in 2011, he wasn't acting as the cop that he was, but was "looking at [Garcia] as my brother."
But Diamond saw the case much differently.
He said the jury rejected that Cordero was just trying to help his half brother.
Before sentencing Cordero to 15 years in prison, Diamond said Cordero "was not trying to help his brother stay alive," but "was trying to help his brother sell drugs."
The judge noted that Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey had submitted a letter asking for the maximum sentence allowed, 20 years in prison, for Cordero.
During the two-hour hearing, the judge and McMahon verbally sparred over elements of the case. At one point, McMahon told the judge he believed the government's portrayal of Cordero to be "disingenuous," prompting the judge to interrupt.
Cordero was aiding a drug organization that was "helping to kill the city he [Cordero] swore to protect," the judge said.
After McMahon heatedly disagreed, arguing that the facts didn't fit into a neat, little pattern, the judge called for a brief break.
During the government's turn, Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin Brenner called Cordero "deceptive, defiant and duplicitous," saying he lied to his fellow officers, to the FBI and to the jury at his trial.
The jury convicted Cordero of two counts each of obstruction of justice and of lying to the feds.
After the hearing, McMahon and Cordero's family were visibly upset by the judge's sentence. McMahon called the long prison term "unspeakably cruel."
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