NEW YORK -- A Bronx police officer at the center of the NYPD ticket-fixing scandal has been charged, along with his wife, with conspiring to hire a hit man to murder a key witness against him.
Prosecutors say veteran Police Officer Jose Ramos and his wife, Wanda Abreu, intended for the witness to be killed during a planned trip to Texas so they'd have an alibi.
"He sold his badge," said Bronx Assistant District Attorney Omer Wiczyk. "He has sold his soul."
Ramos and Abreu's charges included three counts of second-degree conspiracy, punishable with 25 years imprisonment.
"We are blindsided by this," said defense attorney Dawn Florio. "My client is not guilty."
The DA alleges the couple spoke in person and on the phone in code, using five different aliases for their intended victim. Some of the conversations were recorded at Riker's Island, where Ramos is awaiting trial, court papers say.
"They were willing to pay a fee but it was crucial to them they not be involved in the murder," Wiczyk said.
The Bronx DA's office said the couple agreed on a price and withdrew the funds from Ramos' NYPD pension. But before handing over the money, prosecutors said, Abreu suspected she was being recorded, and called it off.
According to prosecutors, Ramos told his wife to deliver the money: "Go ahead, do it. But do it right away."
Ramos is being held without bail. The judge set a $500,000 bail for Abreu, or $100,000 cash.
Ramos pleased not guilty last year to a range of corruption charges, including accusations that he attempted to transport heroin from the Bronx to Brooklyn, steal money from drug dealers and commit a robbery while on duty. He was among 16 police officers arrested then in connection with a ticket-fixing probe.
The pair is due back in court Aug. 3.
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