Saturday, September 24, 2011

NYPD ticket-fixing probe: Grand jury votes to indict 17 cops in scandal that's rocked police dept.

Mike Albans/Daily News

A BRONX grand jury indicted 17 cops yesterday in a massive ticket-fixing scandal that stretched from precinct houses to 1 Police Plaza, sending shock waves through the NYPD.

Grand jurors shook their heads and frowned in disgust as they heard the startling evidence of cops routinely quashing tickets, sources told the Daily News.

The accused officers - including a large number of union delegates - were stunned as they absorbed the reality of their imminent arrests following a two-year probe.

"We knew it was coming, but it's hard to swallow," said one cop close to several of the indicted officers. "When you take this job, you don't ever think you're gonna be on the other end of it."

It was, he said, a "dark day" for the NYPD - and its most sweeping scandal since the Mollen Commission probed crooked cops who robbed drug dealers back in 1992.

The indictments will remain sealed until next week, when the accused officers will be arraigned and the details will emerge, the sources said.

The disgraced cops will get the chance to surrender rather than face humiliating arrests at their homes or stationhouses, the sources told The News.

"They'll have the opportunity to turn themselves in next week," said a source close to the case. "They'll have the weekend to get everything in order."

The probe focused on the city's largest police union, the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, and its delegates and trustees.

More than 500 cops were linked to the scandal, and it was expected dozens of officers beyond those indicted could face some sort of departmental discipline.

The indicted cops face charges that include perjury, bribery, obstruction, grand larceny and official misconduct, the sources said.

The News has reported the cops involved helped cover up an assault charge and a domestic assault case, with one cop even taking profits from drug proceeds.

At least eight union officials were facing charges.

Sgt. Raymond Brickley, one of the early targets of the probe, was caught on a wiretap talking about fixing tickets, sources said. Brickley, assigned to the 42nd Precinct, is an official with the Sergeants Benevolent Association.

Edward Mullins, head of the Sergeants Benevolent Association, said word of the indictments was good news.

"Now the truth is going to come out," Mullins said. "When all is said and done, Ray Brickley will be acquitted of the allegations brought against him."

Joseph Anthony and Michael Hernandez, both Bronx trustees of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, were also caught on wiretaps talking about ticket-fixing.

Defense lawyer Tom Puccio, who represents Anthony, declined comment. Hernandez's attorney couldn't be reached. The PBA also had little to say.

"We have not been notified of anything by the Bronx DA's office," PBA spokesman Al O'Leary said. "So we will not comment until we get something official."

Former NYPD spokeswoman Lt. Jennara Everleth, assigned to the Internal Affairs Bureau at Police Headquarters, was caught leaking information about the case on at least one taped phone call.

The grand jury proceedings were conducted in extreme secrecy, but bits of information emerged yesterday as implicated cops worried about the pending grand jury action.

The investigation began with a tip about Officer Jose Ramos of the 40th Precinct, who investigators suspect had ties to a drug dealer, sources and NYPD documents say.

Wiretaps caught Ramos discussing ticket-fixing, and the scandal soon mushroomed. In all, more than two dozen cops were caught on wiretaps. About 50 testified before the grand jury - many of them cutting deals and piercing the fabled blue wall of silence

kdeutsch@nydailynews.com

Analysis: Ticket-fixing scandal is pretty small compared to other bad-cop capers

Saturday, September 24th 2011, 4:00 AM

For shame! Many of New York's "finest" have made some fine messes.
Linda Cataffo/News
For shame! Many of New York's "finest" have made some fine messes.

IN THE CITY that produced "Serpico" and "Prince of the City," the Bronx ticket-fixing mess hasn't quite achieved the cinematic sweep of previous NYPD scandals - at least not yet.

The indictment of 17 cops isn't good news for the department, but it's not as crippling as past corruption cases across its 166-year history.

"As of what we know now, this does not rank with the great scandals of the past," said NYPD historian Tom Reppetto.

"These charges are much, much smaller. What is going to attract the attention is the number of people involved. The headline is '17 Cops Indicted,' and hundreds more are ticket-fixers."

Police scandals date back to the days before Teddy Roosevelt became police commissioner in 1895 - and almost routinely crop up every 20 years, with the last great one in 1992.

When 75th Precinct Officer Michael Dowd was busted, it exposed a crew of corrupt cops who robbed drug dealers for dope and cash - and led to the Mollen Commission.

Back in 1971, Detective Frank Serpico spilled the beans on his crooked co-workers before the Knapp Commission - which found rampant bribery in the NYPD.

Detective Robert Leuci went undercover the same year and exposed 52 rogue cops in the Special Investigation Unit. His work later became the movie, "Prince of the City," which included a character based on prosecutor Tom Puccio. Now a defense lawyer, Puccio represents one of the cops under suspicion in the ticket-fixing case.

More recently, the department was rattled by the Mafia Cops - two veteran NYPD detectives convicted as hit men for the Luchese crime family.

Reppetto warned that further investigation could involve police brass or expose additional wrongdoing.

"Once in a while, you see something in one of these stories that is going to lead somewhere else," the former cop said. "So far, this does not measure up to the past."

lmcshane@nydailynews.com

Post a Comment