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Sex-case critic being forced out

August 3, 1998

Three months after a deputy commissioner whacked one of the police department's good old boys in an investigation of sexual harassment allegations - and later refused to modify her remarks - she is being forced out of One Police Plaza, police sources told Newsday.

In her report, Sandra Marsh, the NYPD's deputy commissioner of equal employment opportunity, referred to Staten Island Assistant Chief Gene Devlin as "evasive" in answering questions about his transfer of Lt. Lloyd Thompson.

Devlin transferred Thompson after Thompson warned the chief he was violating federal and state law in transferring Officer Stacey Maher. Maher had complained to Marsh's office of alleged sexual harassment by a former supervisor.

Marsh's report whacked Phil Erickson, Devlin's deputy, even harder, saying there was "sufficient cause" to believe Erickson lied in his answers about Thompson's transfer. Under Police Commissioner Howard Safir, lying is a fireable offense. (Being "evasive" is borderline.) Department sources say Safir has fired cops for less.

Both Devlin and Erickson have denied wrongdoing and slammed Marsh's report. Unwilling to allow Marsh's conclusions to stand, Safir returned the report to her for what he called "further investigation" - whatever that means. When Marsh refused to go along, she was finished.

She won't discuss her situation with reporters. Friends say she's keeping her mouth shut while she hangs in through September to qualify for her pension.

Because she is the only black deputy commissioner, her departure further reduces the already small number of blacks holding top positions in the department. It is said she will be replaced by another black woman, Assistant Commissioner Neldra Zeigler. Still, department sources acknowledge that Marsh's imminent ouster for doing what she's paid to do and her replacement by another black woman are further indications - if any are necesssary - that the EEO job is but a token one.

And the Beat Goes On. Meanwhile, another department top gun has been cited in a sexual harassment suit. This time it's Insp. Arthur Storch, accused by Sgt. Michelle Jarman-Brown of permitting his subordinates to get away with lewd sexual behavior toward her. Her husband, Lt. Robert Brown, alleges in the suit that after his wife complained, Storch threatened to submarine both their careers.

Storch - who as commanding officer of the 106th Precinct in Queens became a hero in the Guyanese community for protecting Guyanese students from bullies after school officials ignored their plight - maintains Robert Brown threatened Storch's sergeant, who then complained to Internal Affairs.

Printable versionSaid a department official: "One complaint follows the other." He refused to say which followed which.

Jarman-Brown, meanwhile, has been transferred to Staten Island under the now-careful eye of Devlin. Her attorney, Jeff Goldberg (who also represents Stacey Maher in her sexual-harassment complaint), says: "She's being treated just great."

Disco Joe. That's what they called poor Deputy Insp. Joseph McKeever, booted as commander of Midtown South precinct after Safir discovered McKeever had performed with his rock band in a precinct-area bar with fellow cops the very night before Safir announced the existence of "The South's" prostitution scandal.

It turns out McKeever was entertaining at a racket thrown by Patrolmen's Benevolent Association delegate Tom Coffey. Coffey, one of the South's five delegates, used his $160 monthly PBA expense money to purchase beer for the party, unlike others who pocket the money as salary.

Say It Ain't So (Again), Joe. Fresh from squelching the arrest of a man whose case the NYPD's Special Frauds squad spent months developing, Brooklyn's absentee District Attorney Joe Hynes, who is off running for governor, turned up at One Police Plaza with Commissioner Safir to announce the chop-shop arrests of 102 people.

A few days later, charges had quietly been dropped against 71 of them for lack of evidence.

Heard: That Deputy Commissioner Richie Sheirer cracked up a department car traveling to the scene of the fatal shooting of Police Officer Gerard Carter on Staten Island. He'd also cracked up a car while serving under Safir in the fire department. Said his secretary last Friday, "He's fine and he appreciates your call."

Unseen: Commissioner Safir during Carter's shooting and passing. Both Deputy Commissioner for Public Information Marilyn Mode and her acolyte Deputy Insp. Mike Collins refused all week to explain Safir's absence. Finally, our forthcoming Mayor Rudolph Giuliani explained that Safir was in Europe with his wife on a delayed 30-year anniversary vacation, postponed two years ago (and again last year) when he became commissioner.

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© 1998 Newsday, Inc. Reprinted with permission.