A former New York City police detective found guilty of planting drugs on two innocent people was spared prison time after a dramatic courtroom mea culpa Thursday.
Jason Arbeeny, a 14-year-veteran of the NYPD and former member of the Brooklyn South Narcotics Team, was sentenced to just 5 years probation and 300 hours community service. He had faced up to four years in prison.
Arbeeny was found guilty of eight counts of falsifying records and official misconduct stemming from a 2007 incident in which he planted a bag of crack cocaine inside the car of a couple in Coney Island.
Arbeeny's defense claimed he was under enormous pressure to meet arrest quotas (or as the NYPD calls them, 'productivity goals') and resorted to the "flaking," a practice Arbeeny's trial revealed may be widely used by NYPD officers.
"I can't look at myself in the mirror anymore," Arbeeny tearfully told Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Gustin Reichbach, according to The New York Daily News. "Sir, I am begging you, please don't send me to jail."
He then apologized to his victims. "My oath went down the window, my pride went out the window," he said.
Arbeeny even mentioned that his young son, worried over his father's fate, was in therapy and threatening suicide.
It all caught Justice Reichbach by surprise. According to The Associated Press, the judge had shown up to court convinced Arbeeny's crime required jail time. Reichbach admitted that Arbeeny's pleas had gotten through to him. "I frankly didn't expect the defendant, at the 11th hour, to be making these claims," he said.