According to a New York Times investigation, a group of Brooklyn NYPD officers may have planted guns and invented nonexistent informants in order to arrest as many as six innocent people.

The Times focuses on the cases of Jeffrey Herring, Eugene Moore, and John Hooper, all of whom were arrested by some of the same officers on gun charges that involved tips from anonymous informants. The Times lays out some other similarities:

Each gun was found in a plastic bag or a handkerchief, with no traces of the suspect's fingerprints. Prosecutors and the police did not mention a confidential informer until months after the arrests. None of the informers have come forward, even when defense lawyers and judges have requested they appear in court.

Taken individually, the cases seem to be routine examples of differences between the police account of an arrest and that of the person arrested. But taken together, the cases — along with other gun arrests made in the precinct by these officers — suggest a pattern of questionable police conduct and tactics.

Moore's charges were dismissed after he spent a year in jail—he could not afford bail—because a judge found Detective Gregory Jean-Baptiste, one of the arresting officers, to be "extremely evasive" and not a credible witness.

Hooper was also arrested by Jean-Baptiste and Sergeant Vassilios Aidiniou, another of the arresting officers in Moore's case, as well as Lieutenant Edward Babington. He too spent almost a year in jail before entering a guilty plea with a sentence of time served. Prosecutors did not bring the informer who supposedly tipped cops off to Moore's gun to court, and Justice Guy J. Mangano said this of Jean-Baptiste's testimony:

"Supposedly this defendant doesn't see the police coming, but elects out of nowhere to take the object out of his pants pocket and dump it in a garbage can?" Justice Guy J. Mangano said. "I find it incredible that they thought it was a gun."

Court proceedings in Herring's case have not yet concluded; he is scheduled to appear at State Supreme Court in Brooklyn Monday. Babington, Jean-Baptiste, and Aidiniou all participated in his arrest, and despite being ordered by a judge to do so, prosecutors have not yet produced the informant who allegedly called in Herring's gun.

An NYPD spokesman told the Times that the department's Internal Affairs Bureau is investigating the officers' conduct. Debora Silberman, Herring's attorney, speculated that the cops may have fabricated the arrests in order to meet quotas, along with an even more sinister reason: The NYPD's Operation Gun Stop program awards $1000 to informers whose tips lead to a gun arrest—if those confidential informers weren't real, the officers could have taken the money for themselves.

[Image via Dave Hosford/Flickr]