NYPD Confidential - An Inside Look at the New York Police Department
Home Page
All Columns
Contact Leonard Levitt
Search this site
Printable versionSend to a friendEmail Leonard Levitt

Drama unfolds in department lawsuit

August 23, 1999

We now bring you NYPD Staten Island Blue, a drama of sex, intrigue and treachery. The names are true, and the events are alleged in a federal lawsuit filed this month by Sandra Marsh, former Deputy Commissioner for Equal Employment Opportunity. Events are also described in two secret police reports prepared in 1998-one by Marsh, the second by her replacement Neldra Zeigler after Marsh said Police Commissioner Howard Safir fired her for refusing to alter her report, which she charges in the suit.

The characters: ... Officers Stacey Maher and Virginia Duffy of the 123rd Precinct, both of whom filed sexual harassment charges with the department against Lt. Joseph Monahan.

... Lt. Lloyd Thompson, commanding officer of the Staten Island Task Force to which Maher was assigned. After Thompson warned Staten Island Patrol Borough Chief Eugene Devlin not to transfer Maher, Devlin transferred Thompson.

... Maher's task force supervisor Sgt. Jacqueline Smarsch, whose husband, Arthur, is friends with Devlin.

... Devlin, who Marsh charged in her report was "evasive." ... Devlin's assistant, Deputy Chief Philip Erickson, who Marsh charged "submitted false testimony." .

And now to our drama.
Act I begins in August, 1997, when Duffy and Maher charge Monahan sexually harassed Duffy. According to Zeigler's report, Duffy alleges Monahan asks her to leave her husband. While in a department van, Duffy says Monahan places his hand on her breast and then on her right thigh. He remarks, "You have such a great body. I would love to see you in a bathing suit," according to Zeigler's report, which found the charges unsubstantiated.

Duffy also alleges that Monahan, who denies all of the charges in the report, retaliates by changing her job as youth officer to that of truancy officer, where she must write 25 summonses per month.

Monahan, however, alleges that, Duffy "had poor activity" as youth officer. In January, 1997, he says he issued her a check to organize an Explorer program.

The check was returned in July, uncashed.

"In front of at least three witnesses," he charges, "Duffy stated, 'If he keeps on --- with my job, I will make an EEO complaint ..."

Flashback: Enter Maher, who charges that in 1987, while assigned to the 84th Precinct in Brooklyn, Monahan unbuttoned her shirt, pulled off her gun belt and unzipped her pants, according to Zeigler's report, which found the charges unsubstantiated.

Zeigler's investigation reveals that when both were assigned to the 123rd Precinct in Staten Island, Maher makes 185 hang-up telephone calls to Monahan's office, pages him 150 times, sends balloons to him at the 123rd Precinct on Feb. 14, 1997, and on that same day placed an anonymous Valentine's Day message in the Daily News.

Act II. At the 123rd Precinct.
Maher claims that before she joined the Staten Island Task Force in April, 1997, Monahan made phone calls "poisoning her reputation," including the disclosure that she was a confidential informant for Internal Affairs. She alleges in Zeigler's report that Monahan arranged the theft from her personnel folder of the death certificate of her father, who died of AIDS. The charge was found unsubstantiated.

Enter Thompson, who alleges that after warning Devlin not to transfer Maher, Devlin transferred him to the 120th Precinct, where he practices law, off-duty.

The transfer, Thompson alleges, hinders his practice, requiring him to be on duty during the hours he is normally in court.

Chief Erickson explains Thompson's transfer is due to "high overtime rates, and a high sick rate" within the Task Force.

The department subsequently says Thompson cannot practice law in the precinct where he works as a cop.

Act III. The scene. The 14th floor of One Police Plaza.
Marsh issues her report in April, 1998, critical of Devlin and Erickson. In her lawsuit, she charges that First Deputy Patrick Kelleher and Deputy Commissioner for Legal Affairs George Grasso attacked her conclusions about Devlin and Erickson and that Safir fired her, replacing her with Zeigler, because Marsh had "the integrity and temerity to stand up to the police commissioner and his cronies." Zeigler's report of Sept. 29, 1998 concludes: ... Thompson's allegation that Devlin transferred him for retaliatory reasons "seems to be without merit." ... Devlin's testimony "appears to be consistent and supported by the testimony of all other individuals interviewed." ... Erickson's statements "could have been misconstrued ... Without additional corroborative evidence, one cannot conclude proffered false testimony." Zeigler's report also concludes that Maher's and Duffy's sexual harassment complaints against Monahan are "unsubstantiated."

« Back to top

© 1999 Newsday, Inc. Reprinted with permission.