A pair of dirty cops were caught in an undercover NYPD sting operation driving supposed high-priced escorts to and from their dates in exchange for thousands of dollars, newly released disciplinary records show.
Former Officers Thomas Diorio and Michael Sardone of the 106th Precinct in Ozone Park, Queens were busted earlier this year when it was revealed the prostitute they were driving around was actually an undercover NYPD officer, according to the records that were recently made public.
Sardone, who has since retired and was once named “Cop of the Month” in 2015, was the subject of an unrelated investigation when one of his colleagues, posing as a prostitute, asked him in early April if he was interested in driving her and a few other girls to dates because their regular driver was sick.
“We’re not street girls, you know. We’re like high-end,” the undercover told Sardone in a recorded phone call.
“Sex for money. So it’s… simple. It’s just picking us up, dropping us off,” she explained in a subsequent meeting.
Sardone was told he’d be paid $1,000, and possibly more, and he said he’d do it and that he had someone who’d help him out, records show.
On three separate occasions in April and May, Diorio, a 20-year veteran with the NYPD, and Sardone met the undercover escorts at a diner parking lot and drove them to and from hotels in Manhattan and Queens, the records show.
On the first occasion on April 9, the undercover officer paid Sardone and Diorio $4,000 for a ride to and from a Manhattan hotel where they met another undercover cop, posing as a john, who also tipped the two officers $100 each.
A few weeks later, the cops were paid $2,000 for the same service and were asked again to help out in mid-May.
During that incident, the undercover officer told Sardone and Diorio she was meeting with a new client and they needed to be prepared to come up to the room in case things went awry, which the cops agreed to.
Shortly after they dropped the supposed working girls off, Sardone received a text message asking him and Diorio to come up to the room because the apparent john, also an NYPD undercover officer, was refusing to pay.
“Can we square this up so we can get out of here … I mean it was talked about before so let’s just pay them their money,” Diorio told the john as both he and Sardone encouraged the undercover sex buyer to pay up, according to the records.
The fake john acquiesced and forked over the $1,000, telling Diorio he “looks like a tough guy,” records show.
One of the female undercovers also told the “john” she was taking back her “coke” and then grabbed several baggies of what appeared to be drugs from him and took them with her back to the car with Sardone and Diorio.
The next day, Sardone told the undercover he and Diorio were still interested in working with her but he preferred that there not be any drugs involved “in case they were pulled over,” the records state.
In a scathing rebuke of Diorio following a department trial he was not present for, the assistant deputy commissioner for trials, Jeff Adler, called his action’s “egregious” and “repugnant.”
“Respondent’s actions were not based on spur-of-the moment decisions made under highpressure situations; rather, he had time for deliberate reflection, and made the knowing and intentional choice to engage in criminal behavior. Respondent cannot claim inexperience as an excuse: he is just shy of 21 years with the Department. Respondent was plainly motivated by personal gain, and he did, indeed, receive monetary payment for his misconduct,” Adler wrote in the disciplinary record.
“With his blatant disregard of the law that he is sworn to uphold, Respondent betrayed the public trust, and did damage to the Department’s mission, reputation, credibility and relationship with the community. His recent pattern of illegal behavior indicates that Respondent is unable to adhere to Department rules and standards.”
He called the actions of the third incident in May “particularly appalling” because it showed Diorio, “a sworn police officer,” actively involved in criminal activity that was happening right before his eyes.
“One of the core values of the Department is to fight crime, both by preventing it and aggressively pursuing violators of the law. There is nothing more repugnant to that mission than having those who are entrusted to uphold the law turn against it,” Adler wrote in recommending Diorio’s immediate dismissal, which police commissioner Dermot Shea granted in August.
Sardone managed to retire before his disciplinary hearing.
A police source with more than two decades on the job told The Post they were furious over the incident and the bad cops should be “arrested.”
“One of them was allowed to retire! He has the complexion for the protection,” the source said, in a reference to the cop’s race.
“If those were minority officers, they would have been fired and arrested,” they continued. “It gives a bad name to the department and you gotta continue cleaning the garbage out. They both should have been fired. That’s all everybody was talking about today.”
Calls to Diorio and Sardone went unreturned Wednesday.
Additional reporting by Tina Moore and Craig McCarthy