Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Ex-N.Y. Cop: Life after Bust for Drugs Is `a Nightmare'

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Ex-N.Y. Cop: Life after Bust for Drugs Is `a Nightmare'

Article excerpt

How does a former New York City police detective, unemployed and living on a $2,000-a-month pension, afford a $400,000 house in Chesterfield?

George DeLuca says that his wife's family in the Dominican Republic is worth $80 million in car dealerships and property holdings. Her money provided the $100,000 down payment on the home, DeLuca says.

Federal authorities tell it differently.

They allege that the money for the home, the $80,000 swimming pool, the $30,000 dining room set, three big-screen televisions and other expensive furnishings came from a New York-to-St. Louis cocaine and heroin ring.

DeLuca and his wife, Elisa, led it, they say.

Federal authorities allege that the DeLucas helped get more than 200 pounds of cocaine and more than 2 pounds of heroin in New York and then distributed the drugs here.

Before moving to Chesterfield two years ago, the couple lived in a small apartment in New York, where Elisa DeLuca ran a beauty salon, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Holtshouser, the prosecutor in the case.

"Everything has been purchased since June 1993," Holtshouser said. "Where was it all before then? It wasn't in any bank account."

DeLuca, 54, quit the NYPD in 1993, after 20 years. He insists that he is innocentw.

He contends that he's a victim of overzealous drug agents who savor getting a "dirty" cop as a way to boost their careers.

He added that others charged in the case persuaded his wife to believe she did nothing wrong. All she did, he said, was receive money.

"She's not a criminal," he said.

`Living a Nightmare'

DeLuca is free on $1 million bond, but he cannot go far. An electronic "shackle" on his ankle ties him to his two-story house and three-acre lot off Strecker Road. At night, when the ankle bracelet is active, the Jaguar in his three-car garage is useless to him.

DeLuca said in interviews last week that the money laundering charges against him are absurd. The DeLucas are among 14 defendants indicted this spring. Elisa DeLuca, 40, is being held without bond. She also faces state drug charges in New York.

The couple moved here two years ago when George DeLuca retired. …

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