Friday, October 28, 2011

NYPD officers surround Bronx courthouse in support of indicted cops in ticket-fixing scandal

Originally Published:Friday, October 28th 2011, 10:17 AM
Updated: Friday, October 28th 2011, 12:30 PM

Cops hold signs in support of officer indicted in ticket-fixing scandal.
Richard Harbus for News
Cops hold signs in support of officer indicted in ticket-fixing scandal.

The cop at the center of the massive ticket-fixing scandal was held Friday on $500,000 cash bail after his arraignment in a Bronx courtroom packed with furious police officers.

Officer Jose Ramos of the 40th Precinct was the only one of the 16 accused cops not to make bail after their court appearances in the worst NYPD scandal in two decades.

Ramos' lawyer denounced the proceeding as a "media circus" and blasted the high bail after a hearing with even higher tension.

"This isn't a $500,000 case," said attorney John Sandleitner. "He's charged with nonsense for the most part."


SCANDAL PUTS THOUSANDS OF CRIMINAL CASES IN JEOPARDY

Ramos, suspected of ties to a drug dealer, was caught on wiretaps discussing ticket-fixing after cops received a tip about the 17-year police veteran. He faces charges of attempted grand larceny, attempted robbery and attempted heroin possession.

Ramos was arrested Thursday night while leaving a parent-teacher conference at his stepchild's Inwood school. His wife was nabbed at their home on a charge of filing a false report in a car accident.

Officer Christopher Scott was revealed as the most egregious ticket-fixer, charged with more than 150 separate counts ranging from official misconduct to conspiracy, officials said.

Sgt. Jacob Solorzano, who was charged with two counts of official misconduct, was freed without bail.

"I don't know why he was even indicted," said the sergeant's attorney, John Patten.

Ramos once worked as Solorzano's driver, although Patten said prosecutors conceded his client was unaware of any criminal activity.


One officer delivers a dubious history lesson to Mayor Bloomberg. (Richard Harbus for News)

And former NYPD spokeswoman Lt. Jennara Everleth-Cobb was freed on $20,000 bail - posted by a union rep - for three misdemeanor charges related to leaking information about the probe.

The arraignments came before a blue wall of hostility as hundreds of angry cops filled the courtroom and protested outside the courthouse.

The cops cheered their purportedly crooked co-workers as they exited the courthouse after posting bail, while vilifying Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson, Mayor Bloomberg and the head of the NYPD.

"Ray Kelly, hypocrite!" they chanted in unison, led by a heavyset union member.

Dozens of cops lined a hallway outside the courtroom where the suspects appeared at the morning hearing.

While the turnout was meant as support for the indicted cops, the air crackled with anger over the nearly three-year probe that involved hundreds of cops.

"You piece of s---," snarled one cop at a Bronx prosecutor on his way to work.

"Cowards!" shouted another heckler.

The cops began assembling hours before the arraignments. The accused officers, after turning themselves in overnight, were spared the perp walk past the media that usually accompanies high-profile cases.

Instead, they were loaded into a black unmarked van for the trip from central booking to the courthouse.

Outside, one police union delegate waved a massive American flag amidst the chanting crowd of cops.

NYPD Det. Steven McDonald, shot and paralyzed in the line of duty in 1986, arrived in his wheelchair to show his support. The cops erupted in applause as he made his way through the crowd.

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

"Right now, this has been laid on the shoulders of police officers," PBA head Patrick Lynch said Friday. "But when the dust settles and we have our day in court, it'll be clear that this is part of the NYPD at all levels."

The Daily News learned that the 980-page indictment includes about 1,500 criminal charges stemming from 300 ticket-fixing cases.

The charges were expected to include perjury, bribery, obstruction of justice, grand larceny and official misconduct.

"This whole thing is a bunch of bulls---," said one cop, who did not give his name. "They're crucifying us over nothing."

Another officer in the crowd said, "I'll tell you this. The relationship between this department and the district attorney's office is never going to be good after this."

Five civilians were also indicted and busted Thursday night - two drug dealers and three associates of the dirty cops, a source told the News.

The News had previously reported that the accused rogue cops turned down plea bargains in hopes of protecting their NYPD pensions.

Mayor Bloomberg, on his weekly radio show, said the scandal was limited in scope.

"We have 35,000 uniformed people in the department," the mayor said. "It's a disgrace if the allegations are true - the guys with the guns, the ticket-fixing. But it's a tiny percentage of the people."

With Jonathan Lemire and Henrick Karoliszyn

kdeutsch@nydailynews.com

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