A police sergeant accused of illegally making and selling guns to an outlaw motorcycle club confessed to selling a “ghost gun” to a Hudson Valley fire department lieutenant and tipping him off about a police investigation.
On Monday, Gregg Marinelli, 38, of Plattekill, a former sergeant with the New York City Department of Environmental Protection Police, pleaded guilty to criminal possession of a weapon and hindering prosecution in connection with selling a “ghost” gun with no serial numbers on it to an outlaw motorcycle club member, who was also a lieutenant with the City of Middletown Fire Department. Marinelli also admitted to alerting the Lieutenant that he was the target of a police investigation.
At the time that he pleaded guilty, Marinelli admitted that sometime between June 15, 2018 and September 30, 2018, he sold a pistol, which resembled a semi-automatic Glock pistol, to Paul Smith, who was then a City of Middletown Fire Department lieutenant. Smith had been a central figure in a New York State Police enforcement operation dubbed “Operation Bread, White and Blues” which concentrated on members and associates of self-professed “outlaw” motorcycle clubs trafficking cocaine and others who were selling pills.
The gun, which the investigation showed was one that Marinelli had manufactured, had no serial numbers on it. That gun, and many of the weapons alleged to have been sold by Marinelli were “ghost” guns, meaning that he manufactured them without serial numbers, or in some instances were defaced weapons which had their serial numbers removed, officials say. “Ghost” guns are difficult to trace and are, therefore, often sought after by those planning to use the guns illegally, according to police.
As part of his plea agreement, Orange County District Attorney David M. Hoovler will recommend a 10-year prison sentence. The sentence would run concurrently to any time Marinelli receives in Ulster County on related charges.
“I am enraged that a police officer would sell exactly the types of weapons that are used to kill innocent people, including police officers,” said District Attorney Hoovler. “The types of ‘ghost’ guns which were recovered in this case are valuable to criminals precisely because they are difficult to trace. A police officer who alerts an armed drug dealer who has proudly proclaimed his status as ‘outlaw’ motorcycle club member, that he is the subject of police investigation, not only compromises that investigation, but puts his fellow police officers at risk.”
Marinelli was a Sergeant with the New York City Department of Environmental Protection Police, and a Team Leader with an Emergency Service Unit located outside of New York City, when he was arrested on February 28. Marinelli was accused of manufacturing dozens of handguns and assault rifles, including at least one fully automatic assault rifle, and selling them to individuals who are legally barred from possessing such weapons. It was alleged that Marinelli assembled the guns in his Plattekill home and sold them to others, including members of outlaw motorcycle groups and those with criminal convictions, sometimes delivering the illegal weapon using his marked police car. Members of the New York State Police, aided by the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Explosives and Firearms, executed a search warrant at Marinelli’s home in Plattekill and recovered gun parts, tools used to manufacture weapons, and numerous firearms.
Paul Smith of Deerpark pleaded guilty in April to operating as a major trafficker and conspiracy, in connection with the conspiracy to distribute cocaine through self-professed “outlaw” motorcycle clubs. Additionally, Smith agreed to forfeit $315,000 that he made from selling cocaine as well as a 2014 Dodge Ram pick-up truck, a 2008 Corvette automobile and a 2012 Harley Davidson motorcycle that he used to transport narcotics.