Safir finds gold in WTC's rubble
He wasn't even on the job but uses attack to boost biz
BY GREG B. SMITH
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Sunday, August 19th 2007, 4:00 AM
Exclusive: Former Police Commissioner Howard Safir leveraged his former top cop status into multiple contracts and corporate positions and has made millions by recounting 9/11. "
Former Police Commissioner Howard Safir has made millions recounting the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Since leaving 1 Police Plaza in 2000, the man Rudy Giuliani once called "the greatest police commissioner in New York City history" has leveraged his former top cop status into multiple contracts and corporate positions related to the fallout from 9/11.
In each case, the companies sell goods and services by specifically mentioning the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks or by offering devices to thwart terrorists.
A Daily News investigation found Safir is financially linked to six companies. He even made money selling a flawed "skyscraper escape" device that resulted in a near-fatal accident.
In response to written questions, Safir refused to discuss his dealings with the NYPD or FDNY on behalf of any of the six companies.
"I will not provide answers to these questions," he said.
Nevertheless, Safir's status as former New York City fire commissioner and police commissioner clearly serves as the catalyst for his involvement in the companies, and he always touts those positions as he promotes goods and services on TV, on radio and in print.
The prestigious positions continue to bind him to presidential candidate Giuliani. Safir is chairman of First Responders for Rudy, a group that seeks support for Giuliani from firefighters around the nation.
Last month, Giuliani twice called on Safir to counter firefighters critical of the former mayor.
Giuliani tapped Safir to run the Fire Department in 1994 and promoted him to police commissioner in 1996. Safir resigned in 2000 and immediately went to work as a consultant to the chief executive of ChoicePoint, a data collection company.
Then came 9/11, and homeland security suddenly became a growth industry.
Here's a look at Safir's post-Sept. 11 business dealings:
Weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center, the city medical examiner hired Bode Technology of Virginia to create DNA profiles from human remains recovered at Ground Zero.
At the time, Safir was a consultant to the lab's parent company, ChoicePoint. He emphasized he was a consultant to ChoicePoint, not Bode, but his relationship with Bode is far more complex.
During his tenure as police commissioner, he was involved in selecting Bode to handle DNA analysis of a backlog of rape evidence.
Four months after he left 1 Police Plaza, Safir says, he persuaded ChoicePoint to buy Bode Technology. The deal was announced in April 2001.
Safir told The News he had recommended Bode and other unnamed labs to ChoicePoint. ChoicePoint bought only Bode, which turned out to be a profitable investment.
By April 2005, ChoicePoint announced it had nearly doubled revenue to $35.3 million, up from $17.7 million in the first quarter of 2004. In filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company said the record profits were "due primarily to increased volumes at our Bode operations."
Safir also has promoted Bode on TV. In a February 2002 appearance on Oprah Winfrey's show, Safir - introduced as former police commissioner and a "consultant to a DNA lab" - talked of "our lab in Virginia."
In reply to The News' questions, Safir made conflicting statements about his work for ChoicePoint and Bode.
He said he was a consultant to ChoicePoint, not Bode, but he also admitted he met with the U.S. Justice Department affiliate, the National Institute for Justice, on behalf of ChoicePoint when federal funds due to Bode for DNA testing were held up.
First, Safir told The News, "I had one meeting with NIJ on behalf of ChoicePoint to see what was delaying the funds."
At the time, Safir was not registered as a lobbyist for ChoicePoint, Bode or anyone else. Asked if discussing funding on behalf of a company with federal officials consisted of lobbying, Safir modified his position.
In a second response, Safir wrote, "The meeting with NIJ was strictly an informational meeting. There was no discussion of contracts or any advocacy for ChoicePoint or Bode."
Bode's city contract to examine Sept. 11 human remains was originally for $12.5 million but has been increased to a maximum of $15.5 million after workers began finding more remains last year at and around Ground Zero.
And in February, Safir became CEO of Bode Technology.
Meanwhile, ChoicePoint has its own interests in 9/11 security business. It reports it hired lobbyists to benefit from "changes to the Patriot Act."
SafirRosetti, Safir's security firm, won a contract in 2005 to run a hotline to field calls reporting construction fraud at Ground Zero. The state agency that hired him, the Empire State Development Corp., says it has paid the firm just $4,800.
SafirRosetti also was hired by World Trade Center developer Larry Silverstein as a security consultant in 2003 for an unknown amount to help in Silverstein's epic battle with insurers over the WTC site.
Last year, Safir sold the SafirRosetti firm for $13 million in cash and stock, although he still runs it.
Safir mentioned the Sept. 11 attacks to market what is dubbed "skyscraper escape technology." Sold under the brand name ResQLine, the device has had serious safety issues and caused a near-fatal accident. Safir refuses to say how much he was paid.
Safir pocketed a $600,000 fee from GVI Security Systems, a company that says it sells video surveillance "for homeland security purposes." He also was paid to help the company market its "anti-blast technology," to protect vehicles against suicide bombers.
Safir wound up on the advisory board to Global Secure Holdings, a Washington-based provider of "products and services for the homeland security industry." He won't say how much he is paid.
Safir serves on the board of directors of the company Verint and was given 10,000 shares on July 2 worth $300,000. The company says it sells software to law enforcement agencies and gathers intelligence about "terrorism and crime."
Records show Verint has a $4.3 million contract with the NYPD for an "electronic communications system."