Blame it on the alcohol?
Police stole $30,000 worth of booze as part of an illegal seizure at a Bronx restaurant — along with $10,000 in cash from the owner’s adjacent business, a lawsuit charges.
Rolando Feliz says he watched as cops from the 50th Precinct hauled off his entire stock of suds and spirits, from Corona and Negro Modelo to Patrón Silver and Hennessy — 124 cases in total.
“I didn’t do anything and I lost everything,” Feliz, 50, told the Daily News.
Cell phone video obtained by The News shows beer, wine and liquor being packed into two police vans during the May raid. Vouchers were never turned over to Feliz or the Bronx district attorney’s office, and the loot has not been located.
Police insist nothing is amiss. “The NYPD took necessary and proper enforcement actions to close an illegal social club,” Lt. John Grimpel said in a statement.
Cops stormed into La Rola Restaurant on E. 198th St. near Webster Ave. around 7:30 p.m. on May 19 with a warrant to search for a weapon and related items — none of which were found. Feliz was told the raid was connected to a nearby police shooting.
He claims cops collected a large sum of cash from a shop he runs next door to the Dominican eatery and bar, where he operates a money-transfer service — and that $10,000 was not returned.
Police asked him where the security cameras were and “ripped them off the wall” before trashing the place, he said. They destroyed his computers and a valuable safe, Feliz alleges. He accuses the search team of destroying $6,000 worth of electronics along with making off with all his booze.
The father of two, who emigrated from the Dominican Republic in 1996, was charged with possession of a video poker machine and gambling slips.
Feliz took a dismissal deal in Bronx Criminal Court and says the machine was left by the landlord before he took over and the slips at issue were screenshots of a gambling website he’d never seen before.
Police returned the casino device — which Feliz says had been stuffed away in storage and never used when they dusted it off and charged him for it.
“That was an abuse, what they did to me, because I never had a gun,” said the former livery-cab driver, who works seven days a week running his businesses.
His insurance company refused to reimburse him for the losses, telling him, “If they rob you, that’s one thing, but it was the police that took it,” he said.
“Not preparing a property invoice to document the seizure of the beer, wine and liquor facilitated the criminal theft of the beer, wine and liquor by the police,” Feliz’s lawyer John Angrisani wrote in a lawsuit expected to be filed Monday in Bronx Supreme Court. “The property in question was not contraband or evidence of crime.”
Feliz was slapped with summonses and violations under the Alcohol and Beverage Control Law based on a police referral. A pending State Liquor Authority charge is for “transferring” his license to the shop next door, where much of the booze was taken from. Feliz says the spirits were temporarily moved from storage for cleaning while the storefront was closed.
“We’ll review the allegations in the complaint and respond accordingly,” said a spokesman for the city’s Law Department.