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Molinari’s clout’s pull

November 1, 1999

Former police Lt. Patricia Feerick's release from prison last week was brought about less by Gov. George Pataki, who commuted her sentence, than by Guy Molinari.

Molinari's seemingly obscure job of Staten Island borough president belies the influence he wields both as a law enforcement zealot and Republican party insider. Last summer Molinari-who yelped the loudest when President Bill Clinton pardoned 16 Puerto Rican militants -excoriated Pataki for ignoring five written requests seeking clemency for Feerick, who was sentenced in 1994 to two years in prison for ransacking the apartment of an East Harlem drug dealer and holding an innocent woman hostage a few hours. (Appeals kept Feerick out of jail until two months ago.) Last month Molinari broke with Pataki, who is supporting George W. Bush for president, by endorsing rival Sen. John McCain. Republican politicians say the Feerick case influenced his break with Pataki. But did Molinari's endorsement influence Pataki into releasing Feerick? With the release, maybe Pataki sought to limit whatever further support Molinari may give to McCain.

When Bush's dad was president, Molinari also brought about the release from prison of Joseph Occhipinti, an immigration agent sentenced to 37 months for violating the civil rights of Washington Heights bodega owners by conducting illegal immigration searches.

Molinari, who in 1988 served as former President Bush's New York State campaign chairman and in 1992 as his senior election advisor, lobbied the Justice Department to reopen Occhipinti's caseby presenting affidavits by the bodega owners that they had lied at trial. Although Deputy Attorney General George Terwilliger wrote Molinari in December of that year (a month after Bill Clinton defeated Bush) that the affidavits had been forged, Bush pardoned Occhipinti on Jan. 15, 1993, the week before Clinton was sworn in as president.

Now let's return to the NYPD. There, the clout of Molinari, through Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, has superceeded that of the Hasidic crowd. Just listen to this colloquy between Police Commissioner Howard Safir and former former Staten Island Borough Chief Kevin Farrell at Farrell's retirement dinner last month.

Safir: "I want to congratulate you for improving relations with the district attorney's office in Staten Island." Farrell: "How do you get ahead? You pass the civil service test and then you have friends." Translation: While Staten Island Patrol Borough Chief, Farrell helped Molinari's unsuccessful campaign to unseat District Attorney William Murphy.

Murphy then demanded Farrell's transfer off the island. Through Molinari, Farrell landed the plum job of chief of Manhattan detectives.

Then one day, Safir made Farrell executive assistant to Chief of Detectives William Allee, who once had worked for Farrell. Again, he consulted Molinari, and Farrell is now Commissioner of Sanitation.

Here are One Police Plaza's Suck-Up awards for those paying $100 a head to golf with Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and Police Commissioner Safir last Wednesday-proceeds to Safir's wife Carol's Police Museum.

First prize: First Deputy Patrick P. Kelleher, playing (as usual) right behind Safir.

Second prize: The law firm of Dienst and Serrins, the department's all-purpose fixers.

Third prize: The Patrolmen's Benevolent Association. (They paid $400, suggesting there's less "reform" to new PBA president Pat Lynch than meets the eye.) .

Giuliani Pettiness Department.
Former Chief of Department Louis Anemone asked John Miller to emcee his retirement dinner last month. Miller was Bill Bratton's spokesman, and Giuliani forced both men to resign because Bratton received better publicity than Giuliani.

Miller advised Louie to make sure that no one objected to him. Commissioner Safir didn't. (He only wishes he had Bratton's publicity.) But Giuliani was said to feel "uncomfortable" with Miller, who was to introduce him. Miller stepped down, Channel 11's Mary Murphy stepped in. Rudy didn't show.

The 3.5 Mil.
When Safir says this year's Yankee parade crowd exceeded last year's 3.5 million people, he doesn't add that spokeswoman Marilyn Mode literally made that figure up. Crowd counts are routinely made by Manhattan South Borough Chief Allan Hoehl and passed to the department's public information office. Last year, Hoehl acknowledged to Newsday he knew nothing of the 3.5 million number. Mode, whose office released that figure to the media, refused to say last year where she obtained it.

Yankee Floating.
Rudy on Float 6 with Joe Torre, Brian Cashman, Hal Steinbrenner at the beginning of the parade. Wife Donna Hanover, children Andrew and Caroline on Float 55 with Messrs. Jeter, Knoblauch, Martinez, Brosius, Sojo at the end.

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© 1999 Newsday, Inc. Reprinted with permission.