Archive for the ‘NYPD’ Category

New York, New York, it’s a hell of a town…

Tuesday, April 25th, 2017

..the cops are crooks and the gun dealers are too. The mimes are food for the bums underground! New York, New York!

(Sorry, had to shoehorn that in somewhere.)

Anyway, more indictments in the NYC bribes for gun licenses scandal. NYT version here, but I prefer the NYPost version Mike the Musicologist sent me.

Paul Dean and Robert Espinel, worked in the NYPD’s Licensing Division before retiring, and allegedly approved permits for kickbacks including cash “food, alcohol, parties, dancers and prostitutes” from gun expediters, the newly unsealed complaint says.

So, wait. The cops were being bribed with hookers? Because I’m thinking, if I’m a crooked cop, I can just go out, flash my badge, and get my own hookers. But maybe there’s less risk of an IA investigation if you let someone else procure the hookers for you. Trade offs.

Dunn and Espinel…

…allegedly accepted bribes and kickbacks from gun expediters, including Gaetano “Guy” Valastro, 58, a retired detective who owns firearms store Valastro International Tactical Academy in Queens and is also charged in the scandal.

Should I feel bad for Valastro? On the one hand, he’s a party to a massive scheme to shake down citizens for exercising their rights. On the other hand, he’s trying to run a gun store in Queens: can you blame him if he felt like he had to go along to get along? On the gripping hand, he’s a retired cop who decided to run a gun store in Queens, instead of someplace in free America.

In a separate complaint, also unsealed Tuesday, a fourth man, John Chambers — the former prosecutor who calls himself the “Top Firearms Licensing Attorney in New York” on his website touting his legal services — allegedly bribed NYPD Sgt. David Villanueva, 43, with Broadway shows, tickets to sports game and an $8,000 Paul Picot watch to expedite gun licenses, sometimes as quickly as a day.

Here’s that website for you. Note the URL. I wonder how much that cost him.

(Also: someone please tell me the “Broadway shows” Villanueva got tickets for included “Hamilton”.)

Have to go back to work now. Will update later if I see any more revolting developments.

Obit watch: January 11, 2017.

Wednesday, January 11th, 2017

Michael Chamberlain, ex-husband of Lindy Chamberlain and father of Azaria Chamberlain.

You may remember the Chamberlains from the “dingo ate my baby” case, which I have touched on before.

Detective Steven McDonald of the NYPD. Det. McDonald was shot by a 15-year-old boy in 1986. The shooting left him completely paralyzed from the neck down.

A plainclothes police officer when he was shot, Officer McDonald remained on the Police Department’s payroll afterward as a first-grade detective, at times appearing at roll calls and offering support for wounded officers.
His son, Conor, who was born six months after the shooting, is a sergeant with the New York Police Department and represents the fourth generation of the family to serve in the department.

Noted.

Wednesday, November 30th, 2016

The conviction of John Dwayne Bunn for the killing of Rolando Neischer, an off-duty corrections officer, has been overturned.

In 1991, Mr. Bunn, then 14, was arrested on charges of killing Rolando Neischer in the Kingsborough housing project in the Crown Heights neighborhood. According to trial testimony, two men on bicycles had approached a parked car in which Mr. Neischer was sitting with another officer, Robert E. Crosson, and ordered them to get out. A gun battle followed and Mr. Neischer was fatally wounded. Mr. Crosson, who was shot and wounded in the fight, survived and eventually identified Mr. Bunn and a second man, Rosean S. Hargrave, as the gunmen. Both men were later convicted of Mr. Neischer’s murder.

Why was the conviction overturned?

…the judge wrote that his “malfeasance in fabricating false identification evidence gravely undermines the evidence that convicted the defendants in this case.”

And who is the judge referring to here? Our old friend Louis Scarcella.

Art update.

Thursday, October 20th, 2016

The Jerry Orbach Memorial Art Car is funded.

I’m looking forward to getting my bumper stickers.

Questions: which one should I put on? I’m kind of partial to “My child is a honor student…”, but feel free to argue your case in the comments.

And which one should I take off to make room? Right now, I’m thinking: as much as I liked CHeston, and as much of an NRA supporter as I am, the “My President Is Charlton Heston” one is faded almost to the point of being unreadable. It might be time to let go. (And I’ve got window stickers out the wazoo.)

NYPD blues.

Thursday, October 20th, 2016

Quickies:

Bobby Shmurda has been sentenced to seven years in prison. He does not seem to be happy with his legal representation.

(Previously.)

In Quick Response, de Blasio Calls Fatal Shooting of Mentally Ill Woman ‘Unacceptable’

The two men pledged a thorough investigation, and even as the inquiry was still in its earliest stages, the department took disciplinary action against the officer, Sgt. Hugh Barry, stripping him of his gun and badge and placing him on modified duty less than six hours after Ms. Danner was killed.

Sergeant Barry persuaded her to put down a pair of scissors she was holding in her bedroom, according to initial police accounts. But then, according to those same accounts, Ms. Danner picked up a baseball bat and tried to swing at Sergeant Barry. He fired twice, fatally wounding her, the police said. Several other officers were at the scene, but none of them, except Sergeant Barry, were in the bedroom.

I could rant about this at some length, especially the “use a stun gun” part. But that’s already been done better by somebody else.

I love this line, which Tam added since I first read her post:

The use of force spectrum is not like baseball. You do not have to touch every base. If you need to run straight home from second, that’s perfectly legal.

Obit watch: August 18, 2016.

Thursday, August 18th, 2016

Arthur Hiller, noted director. (“Love Story”, “Silver Streak”, “The In-Laws”, “The Americanization of Emily”, “National Lampoon’s Pucked”.) A/V Club.

For the record: John McLaughlin. Should have noted this yesterday, but the day got past me.

John F. Timoney, a blunt Irish-born cop who could outrun crooks and quote Yeats and who, as a ranking police official in New York, Philadelphia and Miami, plotted innovative strategies that reversed years of skyrocketing crime, died on Tuesday in Miami. He was 68.

You’re going down in flames, you tax-fattened hyena! (#31 in a series)

Monday, June 20th, 2016

Turning and turning in the widening gyre, the Bill de Blasio scandal continues to grow.

A while back, I wrote about the suspension of three NYPD deputy chiefs and a deputy inspector, apparently because of their links to two of Di Blasio’s fundraisers.

The other shoe dropped today:

Three New York Police Department commanders, including a deputy chief, were arrested early Monday, along with a Brooklyn businessman, on federal corruption charges stemming from one of several continuing investigations into Mayor Bill de Blasio’s campaign fund-raising, according to court papers.

The NYPD officers are:

  • Deputy Chief Michael J. Harrington
  • Deputy Inspector James M. Grant
  • and Sgt. David Villanueva

This is a little confusing for me: the NYT consistently refers to “three commanders”, but one of these guys appears to be a sergeant. Is that a commander rank in the NYPD?

Of these three, Harrington and Grant were among the officers suspended in April. Also arrested: Jeremiah Reichberg, one of the “businessmen” who has been a “generous supporter” of the mayor. Jona Rechnitz, also a “businessman”, “generous supporter”, and apparently Reichberg’s partner in the deal, has taken a plea on corruption charges and now appears to be rolling on the others involved.

The court papers in the case detail lavish gifts the two senior police officials are accused of receiving in exchange for taking official action, including expensive meals, free overseas and domestic trips, and the referral of business to a security company associated with one of the officials. The deputy inspector was also accused of receiving a trip on a private jet to Las Vegas for the Super Bowl weekend in 2013, and was said to be accompanied by a prostitute.

Hookers. Always with the hookers.

The official action taken by the senior officers included closing a traffic lane in the Lincoln Tunnel to provide a police escort for a businessman visiting the United States, dispatching police officers to the area near a jewelry business run by associates of Mr. Reichberg to disperse people handing out fliers for a rival business, and sending officers to disperse protesters in front of the business of an associate of Mr. Reichberg, according to the court papers. One of the officials also helped the men with their applications to get Police Department pistol licenses.

I’m not sure which “official” is being referenced here, but it makes a nice segue anyway: Sgt. Villanueva’s arrest appears to be related to the pistol license scheme.

Court papers unsealed on Monday also disclosed that a police officer who was involved in that scheme had previously pleaded guilty to bribery charges and was cooperating with federal authorities. In that scheme, bribes — as much as $18,000 per gun license — factored into between 100 and 150 gun licenses in recent years, according to the court papers.

$18K for a gun license. Come to Texas, guys: here there’s no license required just to own one, and it’s $140 (plus about another $140 for the required training course) for a license to carry either open or concealed. Of course, it is hot as hell here, but the upside to that is never having to shovel snow.

Obit watch: June 20, 2016.

Monday, June 20th, 2016

Donald Shea passed away last Friday at the age of 90.

Mr. Shea served for 36 years with the NYPD. He was perhaps most famous as one of the two patrol officers who captured Willie Sutton.

On that day in February 1952, he was a 26-year-old officer on patrol with a partner, Joseph J. McClellan. A 24-year-old clothing salesman, Arnold Schuster, had alerted the two officers after recognizing Mr. Sutton on the subway and following him out onto the street.

Both Mr. Shea and Mr. McClellan were promoted three ranks on the spot, to first-grade detectives, by Police Commissioner George P. Monaghan, who called the arrest the culmination of “one of the greatest manhunts in the history of the department.”

Mr. Schuster was famously gunned down in the street about a month after the arrest, allegedly on the orders of Albert Anastasia.

You’re going down in flames, you tax-fattened hyena! (#30 in a series)

Wednesday, June 8th, 2016

I’ve written previously about the growing scandal involving New York City mayor Bill de Blasio and his fund raising.

Latest, and semi-breaking news: two more people have been arrested and charged with fraud.

One of them is a “hedge-fund financier”.

The other one? Norman Seabrook, also known as the head of the Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association. The COBA is the union that represents New York City’s corrections officers (about 9,000 members).

But wait! It gets better! One of the people the feds have targeted is now a cooperating witness!

The charges, brought by prosecutors in the office of Preet Bharara, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, involve Mr. Seabrook’s investment of $20 million from his union and its annuity fund in Platinum Partners through Mr. Huberfeld [the hedge-fund guy – DB], and Mr. Huberfeld’s payment of a kickback to the union leader, according to the criminal complaint unsealed on Wednesday morning.

More:

Mr. Rechnitz [the cooperating witness – DB] delivered the payoff to the union leader in an $820 Ferragamo bag bought specifically for that purpose. He laid out the cash, according to the complaint, and was repaid by Platinum through a scheme that disguised the reimbursement as payment for Knicks tickets — two $3,750 seats at eight games.

It amuses me enormously that they had to buy a designer bag specifically for their payoffs. Also, the Knicks tickets must have been a major clue: who’s going to pay $7,500 to watch the hapless Knickerbockers play?

You’re going down in flames, you tax-fattened hyena! (#28 in a series)

Monday, April 11th, 2016

I probably should have covered this last week, but it got past me. Work’s been kind of rough. Anyway:

The NYPD reassigned three deputy chiefs and a deputy inspector:

Two of the four officers were placed on modified duty, stripped of their guns and badges and limited to administrative duties, Police Commissioner William J. Bratton said. The other two were transferred from their current assignments to less prestigious positions.

Meanwhile, a prominent NYC restaurateur was arrested and charged with running a Ponzi scheme:

The restaurateur, Hamlet Peralta, who owned the now-closed Hudson River Café in Harlem, misappropriated more than $12 million from investors for use in what he said was a wholesale liquor business, according to the complaint, which was unsealed on Friday in Federal District Court in Manhattan. The business was, in fact, fictitious, prosecutors said.

What do these two things have in common? Glad you asked. They both seem to be tied to a federal investigation involving two of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s fund-raisers:

A federal grand jury in Manhattan has begun hearing evidence in the case, according to several people briefed on the matter. The inquiry has come to focus on the two fund-raisers: Jona Rechnitz, who raised money for Mr. de Blasio’s campaign and was also a donor to both the campaign and to a nonprofit group that supported the mayor’s agenda; and Jeremy Reichberg, who held a fund-raiser for that nonprofit.

More:

Two of the people briefed on the matter suggested that investigators were trying to determine whether Mr. Rechnitz and Mr. Reichberg benefited from some type of favorable municipal action, or the promise of some action, in exchange for their donations, their fund-raising or some other gesture. But the precise allegations under scrutiny by federal prosecutors in Manhattan and agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation are unclear. The two people, like others interviewed for this article, spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk about the case publicly.

In recent months, agents and prosecutors investigating Mr. Rechnitz and Mr. Reichberg learned that they were both also in close contact with roughly a score of high-ranking police officials, and may have lavished gifts upon them, some of the people said. This tangential discovery led the police commissioner, William J. Bratton, to reassign four senior police officials to desk duty last week. Two were stripped of their guns and badges and two others were transferred to less prestigious posts, a rare public rebuke.

Mr. Rechnitz and Mr. Reichberg were also investors in the Peralta Ponzi scheme.

Like I said, I’ve been kind of behind the 8-ball, so here’s another one I should have blogged before now: Paul Tanaka was convicted of obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice last week.

Mr. Tanaka was the undersheriff of Los Angeles County: basically, he was Lee Baca‘s second-in-command.

The criminal charges centered on allegations that in 2011 Tanaka orchestrated a scheme to derail the FBI’s jail investigation by intimidating the lead agent in the case, pressuring deputies not to cooperate and concealing the whereabouts of an inmate who was working as a federal informant.

Dumber than a bag of hair.

The LAT claims that Mr. Tanaka could get “as long as 15 years in prison”: as we all know, such claims should be taken with soy sauce and wasabi.

Random notes: March 23, 2016.

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2016

Let’s play a little game: fill in the blank in this headline. (No fair peeking.)

New York Police Increase Patrols Around 20 Clubs to Combat [Blank] Violence

Did you say “gun”? Bzzzzzt! Sorry. Understandable, but wrong. We were looking for “knife”. “Knife”.

Police officials said on Tuesday that they would increase enforcement around 20 bars and clubs in New York City with a disproportionate share of the stabbings and slashings that have resulted in a surge in knife violence this year.

I just like pointing out the use of “knife violence” here.

And speaking of things I just want to point out:

The plan called for establishing a site where people could legally shoot heroin — something that does not exist anywhere in the United States.

“There’s never been a paper bag for drugs…until now.”

Sourdough starter!

Some people name their starters: William Butler Yeast, Herman, Sarah, Sky Pilot, Ms. Tippity, Eleanor, Roxanne.

I have to admit, “William Butler Yeast” is clever.

The latest additions to the National Recording Registry came out today.

A few random notes:

  • You can find the W.H. Stepp version of “Bonaparte’s Retreat” on YouTube if you want to compare and contrast to Copland.
  • I rather like the note on Mahler’s Symphony No. 9, putting it into the context of 1938.
  • I want to hear those two “Destination Freedom” episodes. I haven’t had a chance to go looking for them yet.
  • Dixie McCall for the win!
  • Yeah, I can accept both versions of “Mack the Knife”. You know who did a really good version of that song? Sting, believe it or not, with Dominc Muldowney on the Lost in the Stars: The Music of Kurt Weill album, which does not appear to be available digitally.
  • As everyone knows, I am not a basketball fan, but I do acknowledge the significance of Wilt Chamberlain.
  • Damn, “Mama Tried” is a great song.
  • I have to agree Carlin belongs on this list, if for no other reason than the legal significance of the “Seven Dirty Words” routine.
  • “I Will Survive” is a good song, but I prefer the Cake version. (I also prefer girls with a short skirt and a long jacket.)
  • One of my coworkers and I have been joking back and forth about how metal I am. This is how metal I am: I’ve never heard “Master of Puppets”. Perhaps I need to fix that.

Obit watch: October 14, 2015.

Wednesday, October 14th, 2015

Robert Leuci.

I don’t think he ever reached the level of fame Frank Serpico did, but he was part of the same NYPD anti-corruption movement.

Of the 70 men assigned to the Special Investigating Unit of the Narcotics Division from 1968 to 1971, 52 were indicted as a result of evidence gathered by Mr. Leuci. Two committed suicide with their service revolvers. Two others, both 42, died of heart attacks after they were indicted. One went insane.