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Club's internal strife not so fine

February 5, 2001

There is trouble in paradise within the Finest Foundation, one of the groups of buffs and hustlers on the fringes of the Police Department.

If the arrest last week of its executive vice president, Teddy Leb, on mail fraud charges wasn't embarrassing enough, we now present an exchange of letters between the foundation's chairman, Rodney Ettman, and board member and director Dennis Schnur.

The two men squared off after Schnur blasted Leb, who is seeking to run for president of the organization, which donates money for police scholarships and cozies up to top brass.

"It is in the best interest of all concerned and in consultation with our elected officers, we request your immediate resignation," Ettman wrote Schnur on Dec. 4.

"Your outrageous and reprehensible behavior directed toward officers of this organization and entirely in view of many at our meeting on Nov. 29th at the Friars Club leaves no choice but to proceed for expulsion," Ettman wrote. "It would be prudent for you to resign and avoid any adverse publicity possibly reaching law enforcement agencies unnecessarily."

Schnur responded on Dec. 8:

"The purpose of this response is to place in the record...the true facts...and my refusal to resign as officer and director," Schnur wrote. "At the meeting I openly voiced my opposition to Ted Leb's presidency.

"Thereafter, I was called into the hall by Ted Leb and threatened with physical harm and was told he will ruin me. I did not dignify his ravings by responding...I should add that nothing was said by me in front of any law enforcement people," Schnur continued.

"Your threats impugning my reputation and defaming me in the law enforcement community is reprehensible...Just this morning, one of my sources sent a check on my behalf to the Foundation in the amount of $10,000 at my request. Until the situation created by you and Ted Leb is rectified, I am withdrawing my financial support. The check is not to be deposited and it is to be returned to the sender," Schnur wrote.

Well, my goodness!

Leb's arrest last month came four days after he chaired the Finest Foundation's annual "Chiefs Night at the Plaza," which according to the foundation's most recent filing with the IRS, totaled more than one-third its entire budget of $173,000.

The dinner was attended by a Who's Who of city law enforcement, save for U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch of Brooklyn, in whose jurisdiction Leb was arrested.

 

In a telephone interview last week, Leb, who is an honorary chief of department of the transit police and an honorary deputy commissioner ofthe Police Department, pointed out he has yet to be indicted and attributed his financial problems to his purchase of a Long Island car dealership from a reputed organized crime figure.

He also denied threatening Schnur.

And the word in police buff circles is that Leb's investigation was instigated by Reggie Ward, a former Finest Foundation member who now heads his own law enforcement foundation. Ward, who with his brother lost tens of thousands of dollars he invested with Leb and his car dealership, could not be reached for comment.

Meanwhile, Schnur, who is also an Honorary Deputy Commissioner and the recipient of a department Chief of Personnel Badge issued by recently retired Chief of Personnel Mike Markman, says that instead of returning the $10,000, foundation officials deposited it in their general fund.

The Jackster. Former Deputy Police Commissioner Jack Maple threw a black-tie bachelor party at Elaine's restaurant Friday night for his 100 best friends in law enforcement.

Many credit Maple with developing the strategies that reduced crime not only in New York but in cities where Maple's colleagues now serve as police commissioners and where Maple served as a consultant to police departments.

He is also the co-creator of the CBS television series "The District," whose hero is based on him. (At least his name is Jackie and he also wears two-tone shoes.)

Here are some things people said about him at his dinner. Former deputy commissioner Ed Norris, now commissioner of the Baltimore Police Department, said Maple did more than any politician in America in saving the lives of people across the country.

Richard Emery, an attorney who has made millions suing the Police Department for civil rights violations, said Maple had taught him more about the U.S. Constitution than anyone ever did at the New York Civil Liberties Union, which Emery headed.

Terry Ebbert-who heads the New Orleans Police Foundation, which hired Maple to clean up that city's corrupt police department-told how Maple approached an influential black city councilman to seek funding for his reforms.

When the official resisted, Maple said to him, according to Ebbert, "Why is it that a fat ex-cop from New York [Maple] cares more about black kids in New Orleans than you do?"

"You can't talk to me that way," Ebbert quoted the councilman as responding. But, said Ebbert, the councilman agreed to fund Maple's reforms.

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© 2001 Newsday, Inc. Reprinted with permission.