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Wrynn saga goes nowhere

May 25, 1998

One of the unsolved mysteries of the New York City Police Department is its handling of the Wrynns. Now Police Commissioner Howard Safir and First Deputy Pat Kelleher have made it even murkier. In 1993, federal prosecutors told top police officials they believed Det. John Wrynn leaked information to the mob, leading to the death of an informant. They also said they believed his father, Insp. James Wrynn, used his position in the department's Internal Affairs Bureau to hinder their investigation. But prosecutors lacked evidence to charge either with a crime.

Last October, The New York Times reported, federal prosecutors in Brooklyn wrote to the Police Department, saying that they could not make a criminal case but urging the department to fire Det. Wrynn.

At a news conference last week, Kelleher said he'd spoken to the prosecutors five times about the Wrynns. Each time, he said, "they requested that we not move forward, that their criminal cases were continuing." Kelleher identified the prosecutors as George Stamboulitis and his former superior, Chuck Gerber. Neither could be reached last week.

Asked what had precipitated the calls, Kelleher said, "One way or the other the department wanted to get closure to this." Asked whether his calls stemmed from an attempt to promote Insp. Wrynn, Kelleher said, "One of the conversations was about the career of the inspector."

Safir added: "Until this very moment . . . nobody has provided evidence of misconduct for either one of them."

Kelleher was then asked about rumors involving a car accident he sustained years before in which Inspector Wrynn allegedly played a role.

Kelleher said: "As I recall, I was unconscious but there is no indication or no knowledge that he was then present. He was not there."

The exchange continued:

One Police Plaza: "You were unconscious?"

Kelleher: "I hit a tree."

Safir: "Next . . ."

Mode's Means. After police broke down Sandra Soto's door, invaded her Brooklyn apartment and terrorized her and her children while searching unsuccessfully for drugs, Times reporter Michael Cooper asked Deputy Commissioner for Public Information Marilyn Mode how many search warrants police had requested this year and how many had resulted in discovery of drugs. Cooper says he made his request May 12. Receiving no reply, Cooper called Mode again on May 19. After five phone calls, he says, she called him back at 5:30 p.m. and told him to submit his request in writing.

Earlier that day, Graham Rayman of Newsday made a similar request of Mode's aide, Dep. Insp. Michael Collins, who said the information would take some time to gather.

Printable versionOn May 20, the New York Post ran an editorial headlined: "The .0025-Percent Solution: Truth and the Wrong-Door' Raid." The editorial said the department had conducted 2,354 raids this year and had obtained 1,357 narcotics warrants. It reported six "wrong-door" raids.

At a news conference last week, Cooper and Rayman asked Mode why she had released the figures to the Post editorial board after refusing to give them to the Times and Newsday. She provided no answer, and later told Cooper the Post had not submitted a written request.

The Wall. Perhaps One Police Plaza's greatest tribute is its Memorial Lobby on the first floor - five giant plaques naming hundreds of officers killed in the line of duty - from James Cahill on Sept. 29, 1854, to Anthony Sanchez on May 19, 1997.

Earlier this month, another name was added: Thomas Gilbert, killed in a traffic accident in 1918. His plaque was unveiled after a grandson, a cop in Los Angeles, gave news clippings to the NYPD, describing his death.

Retired NYPD Sgt. Mike Bosack says he has discovered nine more officers who died in the line of duty but whose names are not on the wall. The nine, says Bosack, who is something of a history buff, died between 1857 and 1876.

Bosack says he used the Police Life Insurance Fund Disbursement List of the old Metropolitan Police Department, which became the NYPD in 1845 but maintained records until 1870.

"The list was for monies disbursed to the widows and orphans of those officers killed in the line of duty," Bosack writes. "The names of the widows were compared with the names of the police officers on the wall . . . Either we had a lot of bigamists working for the PD or there were lots of heroes missing on those memorial walls."

Bosack says he matched his names with articles taken from 19th-Century New York newspapers, then contacted the NYPD. "I asked them for a list of the names on the wall to compare with my names. They must have thought I was a psycho because they said the list was confidential."

Chief of Personnel Mike Markman is now checking it out.

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Email Leonard Levitt at llevitt@nypdconfidential.com

© 1998 Newsday, Inc. Reprinted with permission.