Couple Claim NYPD Swiped Jewels & Cash

     BROOKLYN (CN) - NYPD officers seized $4.5 million worth of gems and $19,000 in cash during a raid against two eBay dealers and failed to return them, the married couple claim in court.
     Harvey Rodriguez and Colette Barotti say in their lawsuit against The City of New York that police seized 175 pieces of jewelry valued at $4.5 million and failed to return them after a raid in January 2011.
     Police confiscated jewelry, loose diamonds and gemstones, $19,000 in cash, electronics, checks, paperwork and receipts in response to an out-of-state complaint from an eBay customer who claimed that the items plaintiffs sold on eBay were stolen, the lawsuit states.
     Police failed to document the money and about half of the gems, according to the Aug. 8 complaint in Kings County Supreme Court.
     Rodriguez ultimately pleaded guilty to attempted possession of a firearm and got one year in prison.
     Rodriguez and Barotti say they sought to get the items back because selling the jewelry on eBay was their only source of income.
     "The District Attorney's Office and the NYPD were extremely uncooperative," according to the lawsuit.
     "When plaintiffs were finally able to take their invoices for seized property to the proper NYPD offices, they were sent back and forth to various offices in different boroughs, often within the same day, only to be told that their property was missing. ...
     "Over 175 pieces of jewelry, valued in excess of 4.5 million dollars, and approximately $19,000 in cash were either not logged into evidence, stolen, broken or missing and not returned to the plaintiffs."
     Plaintiffs seek damages for conversion, fraud and negligence.
     They are represented by Kevin P. Conway with Conway & Conway.