A retired Yonkers police officer who schemed to have his carting company pay $600,000 less than it was supposed to when dumping waste at a city transfer station was spared incarceration Wednesday as a federal judge sentenced him to probation with 10 months of home confinement.
Robert Chomicki, 62, of Briarcliff Manor, made more than $320,000 in the three-year scheme as he split the proceeds with a scale attendant he conspired with at the A-1 Compaction transfer station.
More than four dozen of his former colleagues − including some former Yonkers police commissioners − packed the courtroom of U.S. District Judge Nelson Roman to support Chomicki. Many were among those who wrote to the judge this summer seeking leniency, citing Chomicki's empathy and good deeds. And while not minimizing his culpability, they insisted his crime was an aberration in a life of service.
Before ultimately giving Chomicki the non-custodial sentence he requested, Roman went back and forth with defense lawyer Andrew Quinn over whether a prison sentence was warranted.
"Your client knew it was wrong but he still did it over and over and over and over and over again," the judge said. "This is a person who should have known better, should have known better. And in fact knew better and didn't do the right thing."
Quinn acknowledged that but said the full measure of Chomicki's life and commitment to others dictated that society would be better served if he was free and not behind bars. He cited his client's years of communal service and his heroism in the past, including a Medal of Honor in 1988 for saving three colleagues when he fatally shot a mentally ill man who was firing at him and other officers.
"He is a man who succumbed to the temptation of easy money," Quinn said. "As a human being, he made a decision ... completely inconsistent with every other aspect of his character."
The attorney said that decision was prompted by a scheme devised by the co-conspirator. The U.S. Attorney's Office has not publicly revealed who that person is, but a court document detailing the forfeiture agreement identifies him as Ean Mangey.
On a regular basis starting in 2015, Chomicki would drive his Riverside Hauling truck into the transfer station and dump waste. A-1 Compaction would usually be paid by the hauler based on a ticket issued indicating the weight of what was dumped.
But while Chomicki's load would be weighed, no ticket was issued. He would still bill his clients for what should have been paid and when they paid his company, he would split the proceeds with Mangey.
Chomicki employed two other drivers, but only when he drove the truck and Mangey was working the scale was Riverside's load not ticketed.
Chomicki started Riverside in 2005 and retired from the Yonkers Police Department in 2010 after 22 years.
He was indicted last year on charges of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. He pleaded guilty to those this spring and had to give up his business as a result of losing his carting license because of the conviction.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Ong on Wednesday asked for a prison term within the suggested sentencing guidelines of 27 to 33 months, saying Chomicki went against the oath he took as a cop and that his crime only stopped because he got caught.
"(The scheme) wasn't a one-off that happened one time, one day," she told Roman, who had to consider the guidelines but was not bound by them. The probation department had recommended a 12-month prison term.
Chomicki spoke briefly, calling himself "honest and hard working" and saying he regretted his actions but was paying a heavy price for them.
He said he was asking for leniency to continue doing good in the community. He emphasized that he hadn't defrauded any clients, and that he wouldn't because he considered them like friends and family.
The judge did not specify what pushed him away from a prison term but suggested it might have been that Chomicki is the primary caregiver for his 84-year-old mother, who has cancer.
Roman ordered Chomicki to serve three years of supervised release, starting Oct. 11, with the first 10 months confined to his home. He also ordered him to forfeit the proceeds of the scheme, $640,783, and pay restitution in the same amount. Mangey is liable for $192,000 on forfeiture but whatever he doesn't pay, Chomicki would have to cover up to the $1.28 million total.
Roman said Chomicki would be allowed to leave home for his and his mother's medical appointments and to work if he gets a job. When the judge tried to ascertain what else Chomicki might have to leave for, he asked Quinn whether his client was a religious man.
"I think he is now, judge," Quinn answered, to laughter from the gallery.
This article originally appeared on Rockland/Westchester Journal News: Retired Yonkers cop gets probation, home confinement in carting scheme