Friday, September 17, 2010

Officials: Ex-NYC Teacher Attempted To Send Weapons To Terror Groups

A former teacher at the prestigious Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan is being held Wednesday on charges he tried to send assault weapons to terror groups in the Mideast. Investigators say he also talked about killing cops and Jews.

Theophilus Burroughs, 49, pleaded not guilty in Bronx Supreme Court to a multiple-count indictment Wednesday, officials said.

According to prosecutors, they have video and audio surveillance showing him inside a Bronx warehouse, trying to negotiate the sale of weapons to confidential informants who were working with state investigators.

One investigator who worked on the case told PIX 11 News Burroughs talked about throwing hand grenades into a Jewish Center at 74th Street and Amsterdam Avenue, on Manhattan's Upper West Side. He also was caught talking about bombing a police precinct and of his support for the terror group, Hamas.

In court, Bronx prosecutors told the judge Burroughs "was under the impression the weapons were being shipped, by container, to numerous groups in the Middle East."

Prosecutors said he had a weapons supplier in South Carolina and also dealt in untaxed cigarettes. In the past, PIX 11 has reported extensively on investigations into cigarette smuggling and its connection to the funding of terrorism.

Burroughs was busted in the Bronx warehouse Tuesday night, at 2605 Halperin Avenue. Investigators say he was expecting to collect thousands of dollars for providing counterfeit cigarette stamps, night-vision goggles and bulletproof vests.

His court-appointed lawyer called the charges "trumped up."

"If this was really such a big case, we wouldn't be in state court, we'd be in federal court," attorney Michael D'Ambrosio told reporters.

Burroughs was on medical leave from the NYC Department of Education since last year. Back in 2002 and 2003, he was a music teacher at Stuyvesant High School. He currenlty lives in Newark, New Jersey and his house was raided by investigators who say they found weapons, narcotics, and thousands of dollars in cash.

More than a dozen more people have been arrested in the case. Burroughs is being held without bail. Long-time residents on Halperin Avenue, where the warehouse is located, call the arrests "disturbing"--and most said they never noticed any activity at the brick building with the brown, garage door.

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