Female cop charged with using dead man’s credit card to buy diamond ring

Reuters / Allison Joyce
Dead men generally don’t go online to buy $3,300 diamond rings for strangers. Especially when the stranger is the police officer who found him dead. And they usually don’t send that ring to the officer’s boyfriend’s address.

NYPD Officer Ymmacula Pierre, a three-year veteran of the force, “is accused of disgraceful conduct by using the credit card information of a dead man to buy expensive jewelry,” Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance said in a statement.

Pierre was conducting a wellness check in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village neighborhood last July, where she was asked to check on Ken Sanden, a 65-year-old man with medical issues who hadn’t shown up for work. When she arrived, she discovered that Sanden had died.

Per regulations, Pierre contacted his niece to notify the family of his death, using Sanden’s own Samsung Galaxy phone. She then vouchered some of Sanden’s belongings, including his Citibank Mastercard.

However, she also jotted down the credit card information and kept it for herself, prosecutors said.

Two days after Pierre visited Sanden’s apartment, his credit card was used to purchase a diamond ring worth nearly $3,300 from Zales’ online jewelry store.

When Citibank saw the charge, they notified Sanden’s relative of possible credit card fraud.

“He was taken advantage of,” Sanden’s niece told the New York Post. She added that she worked with police to track down the ring’s purchaser.

The family then contacted Zales, which stopped the shipment before it reached its destination ‒ an address listed in Pierre’s employment file with the NYPD.

Pierre’s boyfriend, whom she had listed as an associate and personal reference in her NYPD application file, lives in the Queens home to where she had tried to ship the diamond ring, Vance said.

Investigators also matched the IP address of Pierre’s boyfriend’s computer with the computer used to make the jewelry purchase. Pierre is also accused of using the same computer to access Sanden’s email, according to the New York Post.

Pierre is charged with three felonies ‒ criminal possession of stolen property, identity theft and attempted grand larceny ‒ and one misdemeanor of official misconduct.

“Because police officers take an oath to protect and serve, they are held to a higher standard of behavior in the course of their duties,” Vance said in his statement. “No grieving relative should have to worry about alleged theft and misconduct by a uniformed officer in the aftermath of a loved one’s passing.”

The deceased man’s Galaxy cell phone is also missing, according to prosecutors.

“We trust that the police be there when we need them,” Evan Oppenheimer, a movie director and writer who lived next door to Sanden, told the New York Daily News. “This is just wrong, to take advantage of Ken. It's a horrible thing to do, to someone who can't take care of himself.”

Pierre pled not guilty in Manhattan Supreme Court on Tuesday, and was released on her own recognizance. Her next scheduled court appearance is August 11.

"She's a sweet and nice person," Pierre’s attorney, Israel Fried, told reporters, according to amNY. "She's maintaining her innocence."

Pierre declined to comment outside her Long Island home. “I was told not to say anything,” she told the New York Daily News.

Perhaps the moral of the story for all the single ladies is: If your boyfriend isn’t putting a ring on it, a dead man shouldn’t either.