By Chris Fuchs
The man, Henry Vega, 34, of Flushing, was arrested in January 1999 for peddling drugs to undercover officers posing as the owners of a Flushing nightclub. On four separate visits, Vega sold the officers more than one pound of cocaine, which has a street value of $100,000, the Queens district attorney, Richard A. Brown, said.
During this investigation, the police received evidence that showed that Vega may have been responsible for the death of a New York City police officer in 1987 as well as for the robbery and shooting death of another man in Kissena Park back in 1996, the district attorney said.
“The evidence of the defendant's guilt in the narcotics case was overwhelming, and I believe the sentence is well deserved,” Brown said in a statement. “We will soon shortly proceed to try the homicide cases.”
The 92-years-to-life sentence imposed Monday by Supreme Court Judge Randall T. Eng was based on Vega's conviction on four counts of selling a controlled substance, among other charges. Relatives of the victims said they expected the two murder cases to come to trial sometime this year.
Before the judge imposed sentence, Vega was asked whether he wanted to bring up any circumstances – his personal life, medical conditions – that would allow for leniency.
But Vega, a stumpy man wearing a dull-green sweater and a pair of blue jeans, said, “I have nothing to say.” The judge then told him “you have been dealing steadily and continuously. I have no reason to show you any leniency.”
Vega's attorney, Jonathan T. Latimer III, told the judge, however, that he firmly believed the police had entrapped his client by setting up the ruse club and enticing Vega to sell the drugs because they lacked sufficient evidence to support murder charges.
“If they could have convicted him 10 years ago on the murder charges, don't you think they would have?” Latimer said in an interview.
Vega is next scheduled to be tried in two separate murder cases: one for the shooting death of an off-duty police officer and the other for the robbery and shooting death of a Forest Hills man.
On July 7, 1987, the off-duty police officer, George Sheu, stepped outside his Flushing home in the evening and allegedly saw Vega breaking into a car, the district attorney said. Sheu, who was dressed in a Navy uniform, probably shouted “Stop” and was fatally shot as a result, said his wife, Linda, 53, in an interview.
Sheu's wife, the mother of three children and a school aide at a Queens school, said she had seen Vega in the neighborhood before the shooting, working at a then-Getty gas station in Flushing and sometimes riding past her house on a bicycle. The sentencing on Monday was the first time she had seen him in 13 years, she said.
“He's off the street now,” she said in an interview. “He can't kill anyone else as far as weapons are concerned.”
The brother of the second man allegedly killed by Vega, Joseph Hill, 29, was also in court Monday. His brother, Detective Robert Hill, an eight-year veteran of the city Police Department, said his brother had won a sports pool at bar in Forest Hills the night he was killed. His body found in Kissena Park in Flushing.
Joseph Hill, an avid sports fan, was wearing a Yankee jersey the night he died, his brother said. He was shot three times in an apparent robbery, the district attorney said.