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Marriage on Rocks After Romp in D.C.

June 12, 1995

In announcing the names of three police officers disciplined in connection with their actions at the Washington, D.C. bacchanal, Commissioner William Bratton never mentioned a fourth officer placed on modified assignment last week.

He is William Vicario of Queens' 114th Precinct, who did not attend the Washington event. His wife, Ramona Vicario, did - and became the first cop to resign in the department's investigation into the incident.

Interrogated about her activities in Washington, she was directed to take a drug test. She quit before the results were known. Police now say she tested positive for cocaine.

Bratton has promised to be "absolutely ruthless" in identifying NYPD cops involved in the D.C. incident and, in the case of the Vicarios, he apparently has been.

Cops in the 103rd Precinct, where Ramona Vicario worked, said her husband was placed on modified assignment to pressure him to pressure his wife to name names.

Internal Affairs Bureau Chief Patrick Kelleher, who heads the investigation, said only that Vicario's duty was modified after his wife resigned and because of a separate investigation not related to Washington.

But this pressure, said cops in the 103rd, has wounded their marriage. They have split up, at least temporarily.

Sources said that the Internal Affairs sergeant and lieutenant who ran the probe of the Vicarios worked in the 103rd until last year and knew them. They had undercover cops stake out a bar the Vicarios frequented, where they allegedly observed Ramona Vicario snorting cocaine.

"They played on her weakness," said a cop in the 103rd. "While questioning her about Washington, they asked her to take a Dole [a drug] test. She resisted, trying to cut a deal to save her job. When she couldn't work out the deal, she resigned."

As for her husband, another 103rd Precinct cop who knows the Vicarios said he had no idea of his wife's drug use and broke down in tears when Internal Affairs confronted him about it.

At the time, police gave no reason for placing him on modified assignment, other than saying it was "due to an ongoing investigation."

Kelleher said later it had to do with his being in the after-hours bar in which he and his wife had been observed.

The NYPD is under no obligation to give a reason for placing an officer on modified assignment, which means the cop must turn in his or her weapon. But usually it has to do with what another chief called "the best interests of the department."

"That's a euphemism," the chief said, "for saying that for the short term we are worried about you."Printable version

The telethon. In keeping with Chief Kelleher's workaholic hours, detectives investigating the Washington incident worked around the clock over the weekend, as they did the weekend before - and racked up God knows how much in overtime.

"Detectives will be on the phones trying to track down hotel guests all over the country," Kelleher said. "It will be like a telethon."

Meanwhile, Kelleher's boss, Commissioner Bratton, seethed for 15 minutes Friday over the actions of the several dozen cops who ran roughshod through seven Washington hotels. In a speech to newly promoted sergeants and lieutenants, he indicated their actions have affected him in his most sensitive area - image and ego.

Said Bratton: "For the first time in 18 months I was concerned about the image of the department. . . . Those two or three dozen characters . . . have tarnished the reputation of this department in a way it has never been tarnished before. They have held us up to ridicule and shame, not just nationally but internationally."

It could happen to you. That's what Sergeants' Benevolent Association President Joe Toal said of the Feerick Four - the cops convicted last year of ransacking the apartment of a suspected drug dealer, holding a suspected dealer and female friend hostage for a few hours. The cops claimed the dealers framed them.

The four - Lt. Patricia Feerick and Police Officers Jon Devito, Orlando Rosario and Mayra Schultz - will be "a special feature" at the association's 9th annual picnic, reads a flier announcing the event. "I have heard them tell their story and it should be known by all of us," said Toal, whose union is contributing to the cops' defense fund. "What happened to them could happen to any of us."

Are we correct? Has political correctness, if not a sudden sensitivity toward women, reached One Police Plaza? Note the announcement of the American Academy for Law Enforcement's 1995 awards dinner, to be held tomorrow night. It will present its Chief Robert Colangelo "Person of the Year" Memorial Award to . . . Commissioner Bratton.

Taken ill, again. After two weeks in hospitals for alcoholism and other ailments - part of which time he had an armed police guard at his bedside - Police Officer Tony Abbate was back on the job last week, on modified assignment at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. But last Thursday night the beleaguered Patrolmen's Benevolent Association delegate, who is running for financial secretary of Brooklyn South and accused of beating up a score of civilians, checked himself into yet another hospital.

When he comes out, he faces more trouble: a departmental trial for dissing a training officer at a roll call.

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© 1995 Newsday, Inc. Reprinted with permission.