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Remember, you have amnesia

July 22, 1996

For the past two weeks, Lenny Alcivar, the NYPD's 24-year-old "Director of Press Operations," maintained he had "no recollection" of the address 36 W. 89th St.

That's the address he gave when he registered with the Board of Elections to vote as a Republican. He registered on Sept. 17, 1993, shortly after he joined Rudolph Giuliani's mayoral campaign.

As his amnesia suggests, at the time Alcivar registered as living at 36 W. 89th St., he lived somewhere else: with his mom in West New York, N.J.

According to Board of Elections' counsel Kathy King, registering from an address falsely is against the law.

Section 17-104 of the state's election law reads: "Any person who: registers or attempts to register as an elector (voter), knowing that he will not be a qualified voter in the district at the election for which such registration is made, or knowingly gives a false residence within the election district when registering . . . is guilty of a felony."

Alcivar, then 21 and a student at Kenyon College in Ohio, joined Giuliani's campaign in June, 1993, three months before he registered to vote. He worked for Ronald Giller, whose job was "negative research" - or gathering dirt on Giuliani's opponent, then-Mayor David N. Dinkins.

After the election, Giller became the mayor's "Research Director." Alcivar joined the mayor's press office. After the New York Post reported two years ago that Giller had charged $2,700 worth of personal computer time to the city by using the city's access code, he became a part-time employee. He left city government last month.

After Giuliani appointed Howard Safir police commissioner, Alcivar was dispatched from City Hall to One Police Plaza to either assist or monitor Safir's Deputy Commissioner for Public Information, Marilyn Mode. Two weeks ago he was promoted to director of press operations.

Last week, Alcivar gave conflicting versions of how he happened to register to vote at an address at which he never lived.

"I don't know what happened or who filled out that card," Alcivar said in a brief interview Thursday. Later in the interview, he said, "I filled it out but never sent it in. I don't remember the details. To me the issue is: I didn't commit voter fraud because I didn't vote. Having done so would have been illegal. I resent the implication I did something wrong."

On Saturday, in a recorded message left on this reporter's answering machine, Alcivar altered his account again. This time he said, "I recalled the 36 W. 89th St. address is that of my friend where I stayed regularly during that period of time. I currently live in and am registered to vote in New York City."

Printable versionAlcivar's phony registration appears to have escaped detection by the city's Department of Investigation, run by the mayor's old prosecuting buddy Howard Wilson. DOI's crack sleuths apparently failed to pick it up on a background check when Alcivar was appointed a mayoral assistant on Feb. 22, 1994, after he'd dropped out of Kenyon because of poor grades.

And questions abound. Did Alcivar register falsely on his own or did someone else put him up to it? If so, did other Giuliani campaign aides also register falsely?

Board of Elections attorney King says her office refers such cases to the appropriate district attorney. In this case, the district attorney is Robert Morgenthau of Manhattan.

A decade ago, when Giuliani was a federal prosecutor, he and Morgenthau hated each other and didn't speak. Now, with the mayor holding Morgenthau's purse strings, they're thick as thieves.

Says Morgenthau's spokeswoman Barbara Thompson, "No one has referred anything to us."

A fed is a fed. Police Commissioner Howard Safir attended yet another City Hall news conference last week to announce a joint NYPD and federal drug initiative in Washington Heights. And he actually smiled and joked with top law enforcement officials there.

Closer inspection revealed none was from the NYPD. Around the NYPD's top cops, Safir seems stiff and taciturn. Rather, these were feds. Safir, an ex-fed from the somewhat obscure Marshal Service, apparently feels an affinity with them which he lacks with the NYPD.

After visiting Safir at Police Plaza a few months back, a former top NYPD cop explained: "He has a fed mentality. The feds' culture, particularly that of the FBI, is disdain of everyone who isn't a fed. Local law enforcement people are regarded as local yokels."

Contrarily, the NYPD culture disdains the feds, particularly the FBI. Take last spring's episode of "NYPD Blue," whose TV consultant is an ex-NYPD homicide detective. In it, an FBI agent is so afraid of some mob wise-guys, he pees in his pants.

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Email Leonard Levitt at llevitt@nypdconfidential.com

© 1996 Newsday, Inc. Reprinted with permission.