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Stealthy probe of cop’s beating

March 30, 1998

For the past two months, a secret investigation has been conducted into the alleged beating of an off-duty city cop by state troopers in Nassau County.

Subpoenas are about to be served by the Nassau County district attorney, whose investigation has been conducted so stealthily that NYPD investigators conducting their own probe of the incident were asked not to question the two accused troopers, William Hulse and Leroy Ricksy, for fear of alerting state police to the probe.

Ed Grilli, a spokesman for Nassau County District Attorney Denis Dillon, confirmed the investigation's existence when questioned by Newsday Friday. "We have received a complaint relative to an incident involving an off-duty New York City policeman," he said. "Our Special Investigations unit does in fact have an investigation of that allegation. I can't comment any further at this time."

State Police Capt. Michael Williams of the Valley Stream station, where the beating allegedly occurred, said, "It's customary to alert us to allegations involving excessive force so we can begin our own investigation." He added, "This is the first I've heard of it."

The alleged beating of Police Officer John Walsh occurred on Jan. 10 after state troopers stopped a Lincoln Continental on Long Island's Southern State Parkway in which Walsh was a passenger en route to Atlantic City. The alleged incident mirrors the complaints of scores of citizens who have charged the NYPD with stationhouse brutality.

When troopers attempted to arrest the driver, Michael W. Dorsa, for driving while intoxicated, Walsh interceded and was charged with resisting arrest and obstruction of justice, Williams said. "He attempted to prevent troopers from arresting his friend. He was drinking himself," Williams said.

At the Valley Stream barracks, Williams said, "He created a disturbance in the lobby. A struggle ensued and he suffered contusions and abrasions to his lip, nose and face."

Walsh, who was suspended by the NYPD over the incident, did not return a phone message at the Brooklyn courts, where he is assigned.

Williams professed surprise at Walsh's allegations. "The zone sergeant interviewed him. He declined medical assistance and signed a statement he was not injured."

Maybe Not So Clean Gene. The ax may soon fall across the neck of Staten Island's borough commander, Assistant Chief Gene Devlin, over a sexual harassment complaint.

Devlin was recently questioned at length by Sandra Marsh, deputy commissioner of the department's Equal Employment Opportunity Office. Devlin's crime: failing to notify Marsh's office after Police Officer StaceyMaher filed a sexual harassment complaint against a lieutenant and was then called "a rat" by her commander, Sgt. Jacqueline Smarsch. Instead, Devlin transferred Maher and promoted Smarsch to lieutenant.

Show Me the Money.
Remember the controversial police museum headed by Commissioner Howard Safir's wife, Carol, that was at the heart of Safir's decision to open a police substation near Wall Street? The Alliance for Downtown New York, a nonprofit business group, was to pay for the substation and for the museum's rent and utilities for 10 years. The museum was to raise between $1 million and $2 million so it could open this fall. So far the museum has raised only $25,000.

The Big Dis.
As insufferable as our Mayor Rudolph Giuliani was to his police task force, he was diabolically clever in dissing the increasingly flatulent Police Benevolent Association with his plan to pay $1,400 bonuses to selected patrol cops.

Contrast those bonuses to the raises awarded all sanitation employees working on two-man trucks or those awarded all firefighters participating in advanced medical training. The selected patrol cops, on the other hand, will be chosen by their precinct commanders so that the bonuses are at the discretion of management - with no union input.

Equally embarrassing to the PBA was the manner in which its president Lou Matarazzo's support for the bonuses was made public. Matarazzo's printed statement was passed out to reporters by none other than Safir.

Big No Show.
The Latino Officers Association, the NYPD's premier group of professional dissidents, called a news conference at its attorney's office last week to protest alleged retaliation against Police Officer Thomas Bennett. Bennett had told Internal Affairs that police had harassed a Hispanic prisoner in the 108th Precinct in Queens by taking off his pants and holding him naked in a cell.

But neither the attorney Bonita Zelman nor anyone from the LOA showed up. Instead, the LOA issued a press release saying Bennett "is now in greater fear of retaliation. Overwhelmed by the potential impact on his family and friends he has chosen today not to speak."

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© 1998 Newsday, Inc. Reprinted with permission.