UPDATE: Two of Ridge’s ‘gun-running’ cops were community heroes

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Two of the eight cops busted on Tuesday for allegedly running guns and stolen cigarettes were frequently awarded by Bay Ridge community groups — and one was even honored by the neighborhood’s law-and-order state senator.

Joe Trischitta and Marco Venezia were arrested in a Tuesday raid that netted current and former Brooklyn cops as part of a two-year investigation into the crooked gang.

Six of the arrested officers served in the 68th Precinct, but Bay Ridge residents were especially connected to community affairs officers Trischitta and Venezia — Joe and Marco, to locals.

In May, state Sen. Marty Golden (R–Bay Ridge) even introduced a bill honoring Venezia after he retired.

“Marco Venezia has been dedicated to fostering police-community relations and bolstering cooperation between the two entities in order to make the neighborhoods he has served a better place to live and work,” Golden wrote in the resolution.

Golden, a former police officer himself, declined to comment.

Locals said that Venezia and Trischitta were the go-to guys when you had a problem.

“There were times I would call Joe if there was a situation,” said Fran Vella-Marrone of the Dyker Heights Civic Association. “Even if it was his day off, he would take care of it. Both of them always went out of their way — beyond what was required of their jobs.”

The cops retired last year after serving for 20 years, but they were on the force — and active at meetings of the local community board, the 68th Precinct Community Council, and other civic groups — when they planned and executed heists of cigarettes, slot machines and guns, according to federal prosecutors.

“Can you imagine finding out that someone you worked with was running guns?” said one community leader, who declined to be identified. “It’s just beyond belief.”

In 2007, they received “cop of the month” awards from the 68th Precinct Community Council for their work organizing an annual National Night Out Against Crime.

In 2009, Community Board 10 and Deputy Inspector Eric Rodriguez, then-commanding officer of the 68th Precinct, honored them with certificates of appreciation at a board meeting, where they also had “the honor of the pledge,” a monthly board rite that has been extended to many of the borough’s respected officials.

When he wasn’t allegedly involved in gun- and cigarette-running, Venezia was responsible for planning events and designing emergency plans and evacuation routes for local schools.

“He would make sure that if something happened in a school we had a plan for it,” said a police source.

Trischitta and Venezia were each paid $76,488 in 2010, their last year on the force, according to city records.

Reach reporter Dan MacLeod at dmacleod@cnglocal.com or by calling him at (718) 260-4507. You can also follow his Tweets at twitter.com/dsmacleod.

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