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Reinstatement raises eyebrows

July 28, 1997

Even the most cynical of police brass are questioning the actions of Commissioner Howard Safir and his former First Deputy Tosano Simonetti for reinstating a dismissed cop after he paid a fine of $50,000.

The reinstatement allowed the cop to collect a tax-free disability pension with an estimated lifetime worth of $1.4 million.

Jay Creditor, an 11-year veteran and Patrolmen's Benevolent Association delegate with a potential line-of-duty back injury, was found guilty in a department trial in March of missing 200 hours of work over a six-month period.

Deputy Commissioner of Trials Rae Koshetz wrote in her decision on March 7 that Creditor "committed multiple violations of the Department's time and leave rules by failing to appear, misrepresenting his whereabouts and attending unauthorized therapy for his line-of-duty injury on Department time. The evidence amply proves that he acted dishonestly . . .

"Unless he is fired for this," she wrote, "he will receive a three-quarters disability pension when the Pension Board meets March 12 . . . Not only would it be inappropriate to pay this 36-year-old man without exacting substantial penalty for his illegal behavior but it also would send the wrong message to other members of this Department . . ."

Koshetz, whose decisions are rarely reversed, recommended Creditor's dismissal.

Three days later, on March 10, Kevin Lubin, the assistant commissioner of the department advocate's office, wrote to then-First Deputy Simonetti that Safir had reversed Koshetz' decision.

"The Police Commissioner reviewed this case and determined that this case be negotiated," Lubin wrote.

In what a number of top brass say was a deal unprecedented in department history, Creditor agreed to pay a $50,000 fine. He then received his disability pension.

It might be comforting to believe that Safir reviewed Koshetz' decision, felt sorry for Creditor and acted accordingly. But that's not how things happen in the NYPD.

First, although Lubin's memo asserted that Safir reviewed the case, his signature cannot be found on any document. The reason is that on March 7, the day of Koshetz' ruling, Safir underwent double bypass surgery. Between then and March 10, the day of Lubin's memo, Safir was flat on his back at New York University Medical Center. His only reviewing was of his life.

Instead, all documents concerning Creditor were signed by Simonetti, who then became the Acting Commissioner.

Printable versionNow, here are some unanswered questions.

Did Safir cut a deal prior to Koshetz' decision? If so, why conduct the trial? If a deal was cut, was it dictated by City Hall? And what of Safir's promise, following the manslaughter acquittal of Police Officer Francis X. Livoti, that anyone committing perjury or lying to a superior - as Koshetz found Creditor did - would be dismissed from the department?

Or did Simonetti cut the deal himself, ignoring department tradition that holds that matters of promotion and termination are decided only by the police commissioner? Was Simonetti - who a few months later retired with a similar line-of-duty disability pension, courtesy of the PBA-sponsored Heart Bill - carrying a contract for PBA president Lou Matarazzo because of Creditor's delegate status? (Anyone concerned about Simonetti's heart problems should have seen him hightailing it out of a promotion ceremony at One Police Plaza on Friday after he was beeped by zillionaire Ronald Perelman, who pays Simonetti a six-figure security director's salary above his $120,000-a-year NYPD disability pension.)

Now here are the names of some people who refused to answer Newsday's questions last week: They include Safir, Simonetti, Koshetz, Lubin and Deputy Commissioner of Public Information Marilyn Mode, who uttered her oft repeated, "I have nothing for you."

A Footnote. Creditor's attorney father, Paul, has filed a notice of claim against the city for $50 million, saying the Police Department violated his son's rights by forcing his son to pay $50,000 to secure his disability pension.

Overtime Phil. Phil Pulaski was promoted Friday to inspector. Meanwhile, his Crime Scene Unit detectives grumble that to curtail overtime, Pulaski created a two-hour window between 1 and 3 p.m. where crime scene detectives do not respond while Pulaski waits for the afternoon shift. Unless it involves the city's wealthy Upper East Side.

Free (For Now). Transit cop Paolo Colecchia, sentenced last week in the Bronx to up to 4 1/2 years for shooting an unarmed man in the back, is out on $100,000 bail while his attorney Marvyn Kornberg appeals the conviction.

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Email Leonard Levitt at llevitt@nypdconfidential.com

© 1997 Newsday, Inc. Reprinted with permission.