Three NYPD officers have been charged with stealing champagne from the VIP area of Electric Zoo festival.
At last year’s fest, three officers reportedly stole nearly $3,000 worth of champagne from a V.I.P. area. They had been assigned to watch and stop any drug-related activity but were apparently too enticed by the pricey bottles of Jay-Z‘s “Ace of Spades” champagne.
Electric Zoo is an annual EDM festival held over Labor Day weekend in New York City on Randall’s Island. It started in 2009 and showcases all genres of electronic music over four stages with globally-renowned DJs and live acts. In 2013, the final day of the event was cancelled after two attendees died from hyperthermia and a MDMA overdose, and four others got sick. Since then, a stronger security and medical presence has been a part of the festival, which is where these officers came in.
Two of the officers, Jonathan Gonzalez and Wojciech Czech, have been charged with stealing the bottles, according to court documents, and the third, Warren Golden, is accused of failing to stop them.
Naturally, this leads everyone to question the legitimacy of the NYPD’s role at Electric Zoo. “Public confidence in the criminal justice system depends on members of law enforcement acting with the utmost integrity while on duty and following the same rules that apply to everyone else,” Alvin L. Bragg, the Manhattan district attorney, said in a statement.
According to court documents, a table in the VIP section, where the officers were stationed, ordered the champagne Armand de Brignac (known as Ace of Spades because of its logo). The brand is owned by Jay-Z and the French luxury goods conglomerate LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton.
During the festival, the attendees stepped away from the table and Detective Gonzalez allegedly snagged two of the unopened bottles and placed them on a different table near where he and the other officers were standing. The bottles had a combined value of $2,900, according to the district attorney’s office.
Detective Gonzalez then got a backpack and placed the bottles inside. One of the attendees who had ordered the champagne saw this happening and returned to their table, at which point, the detectives left the area, court documents said.
The detectives allegedly tried to enter a restricted, staff-only area and were stopped by a festival security officer. Detective Gonzalez identified himself as a police officer and insisted they be allowed through, court documents say. At this point, the people who had originally ordered the bottles confronted the officers and the security officer removed the bottles from the backpack, returned them and contacted his employer, who contacted the police, court documents said.
Detectives Golden and Czech were arrested Monday, the police said. Detective Czech is charged with two felonies—fourth-degree grand larceny and fourth-degree criminal possession of stolen property—and Detective Golden is charged with official misconduct, a misdemeanor, according to the district attorney. Detective Gonzalez is charged with fourth-degree grand larceny and fourth-degree criminal possession of stolen property, as well as official misconduct.
Detectives Golden and Czech both pled not guilty on Monday and have been suspended from duty. Czech’s lawyer, Oliver Storch, said Czech was “shocked” by these charges. Detective Gonzalez will be arraigned later this week.