The Troy police officer arrested for allegedly tipping off drug dealers, spoiling a five-house raid by the State Police, had a close relationship with the sister of one of the suspects, according to multiple sources.
According to sources, “Person No. 1” in the felony complaint filed by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman works in the Child Protective Services division of the Rensselaer County Department of Social Services and makes $52,000 a year. Officer Brian Gross, who is currently suspended without pay, and the person have or had a longtime, close personal relationship, according to sources.
“Person No. 2” in the document (shown below) charging Gross with felony tampering with physical evidence and three misdemeanors – obstruction of governmental operation and two counts of official misconduct – is Person No. 1's brother.
State Police raided the home of Person No. 2 and four other houses in Rensselaer County expecting to make multiple arrests and seize a good quantity of drugs. They came up empty, “despite extensive evidence of drug activity,” according to the complaint. Gross allegedly told Person No. 1 about the raid to warn Person No. 2. Person No. 2 then gave a heads up to the other suspects.
T-Spin is withholding the names of Persons No. 1 and No. 2 because neither has been charged. Although, it is widely believed that Person No. 1 could be charged with at least obstruction of governmental operation. That, of course, depends on whether or not she struck a deal with the AG’s office to act as a witness should the case go to trial.
Person No. 2 was not arrested in the raid so naming either person paints Person No. 2 as a drug dealer with enough traffic through his Brunswick home – which is right outside the Troy border – to justify a State Police investigation. That is not an official allegation at this time.
According to the complaint, State Police were prepared to raid five homes in Rensselaer County on Feb. 12 after a lengthy investigation. A source said investigators had been “sitting on a wire” for close to year before executing the raid. “Sitting on a wire” refers to listening to conversations via electronic devices.
Gross was part of a small drug task force at the Troy Police Department and was assigned to the State Police Community Narcotics Enforcement Team so he had knowledge of internal details of the investigation, according to the complaint.
The first Obstruction of Justice charge is from the middle of January, according to the complaint, when Gross texted Person No. 1 and requested they meet. Person No. 1 told State Police investigators that Gross told Person No. 1 that Person No. 2 has to “’watch (Person No. 2’s) back’ because (Person No. 2) is doing something that had come to the attention of the State Police.”
According to phone records cited in the complaint, on Feb. 10, Gross texted Person No. 1 again and she told State Police Investigator Dennis Churns that Gross told her that “there better not be any drugs inside the home of (Person No. 2) because ‘there was a good chance the police would get a warrant.’”
Person No. 1 then said she went to Person No. 2 and told him that if “he is doing anything he needed to ‘cut the shit’ and get any drugs out of his house.”
It’s unclear whether Gross allegedly sent the text message to protect Person No. 1’s relative or if Person No. 1 used the text to harm Gross. Or if it’s a combination – either intentional or an inadvertent byproduct - of the two. In other words, if it wasn’t an intentional set up by Person No. 1, when confronted with the allegations, Person No. 1 and/or No. 2 decided it was easier to talk than face further scrutiny.
As far as the felony complaint is concerned, according to lawyers who have reviewed it, the AG has a weak case based on just the text messages and testimony from one person who might or might not have an ulterior agenda, and from another suspected of dealing large quantities of illegal narcotics.
Also, as was previously written, it was difficult to find a motive for a 10-plus year cop - with a clean personal and professional record - to tip off drug dealers. The personal relationship with Person No. 1 is one avenue the AG’s office has explored, according to a number of sources.
Gross is represented by attorney Steve Coffey, who declined comment. Troy Police Chief John Tedesco was unavailable for comment as were the State Police and the AG’s office.