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City silent about knock on door

March 5, 2001

Two months after the knock in the night that came for Terence Hunter, not one public official has uttered a peep of protest about what happened to him.

Hunter, a budget analyst for the Brooklyn borough president's office who happens to be black, wrote a letter to Staten Island Borough President Guy Molinari on Jan. 9 chastizing him for closing a black youth center.

On Jan. 11, as Hunter wrote in Newsday last Thursday : "There was a knock at my apartment door. I opened it and discovered five whites who informed me they were police officers. One of them had the letter I had written to Guy Molinari.

"They told me they wanted me to come with them to the local precinct....I then spent the next 16 or so hours in police custody. I was fingerprinted. I was photographed. I was handcuffed. And I was put in a cell overnight.

"Then I...was informed that the charges had been dismissed and told to forget this had happened to me," he wrote.

Although New York City under Molinari's buddy, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, is not the Soviet Union or Communist China, where citizens have been imprisoned for criticizing government officials, the silence across the city over Hunter's arrest has been deafening.

Take Brooklyn Borough President Howard [Silence Is] Golden, for whom Hunter works. "What's to say?" his spokesman, Michael Armstrong, told Newsday. "He [Hunter] has a private attorney."

Take William Muller, a spokesman for U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch, who is apparently in shock over the sellout by Bill Clinton's Justice Department of her patterns and practices investigation of the Police Department.

Muller says he has never heard of Hunter.

Take the Rev. Al Sharpton, who has yet to open his mouth, or Brooklyn's spineless black politicians, all of whom have remained silent.

Finally, take the earnest mayoral candidate who ordered his staff to draft a letter of protest to Giuliani, then refused to sign it, saying something wasn't "kosher."

So what's to conclude?

Do these officials know something about Hunter the public doesn't? Or so long as crime goes down, does nobody give a damn?

Fall Guy or Bottom Feeder?
Patrolmen's Benevolent Association attorney Steve Worth continues to suffer from his defense of Charles Schwarz, convicted as the "second cop" in the 70th Precinct bathroom while Officer Justin Volpe sodomized Abner Louima.

Schwarz's new attorney, Ronald Fischetti, now claims Worth's $10 million contract with the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association proved a conflict of interest, discouraging Worth from fingering Schwarz'sco-defendant - PBA delegate Thomas Wiese - as the second cop. Because Wiese resembles Schwarz and admitted entering the bathroom just after the assault, Fischetti alleges Worth could have argued mistaken identity. Instead, Worth claimed Louima invented the second cop.

Last month the television program "60 Minutes" beat up Worth for refusing to call Volpe as a witness for Schwarz. Volpe pleaded guilty during the trial and his lawyer, Marvyn Kornberg, promised Volpe would identify the second cop as Wiese-not Schwarz.

Worth denies a conflict. In his defense, Wiese failed a lie detector test. And although Fischetti had Volpe testify at Schwarz's second trial, Schwarz was found guilty again.

More problematic is whether Worth didn't call Volpe because he equals Kornberg in his love of television cameras and newspapers that spell his name correctly. Last week, Worth opined in the Daily News that Puffy Combs' attorney will play the race card, an opinion some in the PBA view as grandstanding and inappropriate.

Did They or Didn't They?
State Supreme Court Justice Edward Pincus in Brooklyn is to hear arguments Wednesday to determineY? whether Newsday is entitled to the Brooklyn district attorney's internal records regarding an alleged trip by two staffers to Puerto Rico.

The two, Chief of Staff Michael Vecchione and a female prosecutor, allegedly went to Puerto Rico to subpoena a witness. Newsday sought hotel and plane receipts, expense reports, phone bills and travel reimbursement forms under the Freedom of Information Law after this column reported on allegations of office favoritism. Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes refused to investigate the allegations. Instead, he threatened to sue Newsday. Neither Vecchione nor the female prosecutor, Assistant District Attorney Stacey Frascogna, has responded to queries.

In denying Newsday's FOIL request, Assistant Brooklyn District Attorney Virginia Modest wrote that the disclosure of the records "would endanger the life and safety of a person and would disclose confidential information relating to a criminal investigation."

She added that such disclosure is prohibited under a 1999 Supreme Court decision in Brooklyn, which she did not identify.

Fallen Angel.
This week's Finest Foundation resignation: Michael Emmerman, who said he feared a "mole" in the organization.

Emmerman remains vice chairman of the Federal Drug Agents Foundation, although its chairman, remaining Finest member Dennis Schnur, has been subpoenaed about the sale of counterfeited federal parking placards and badges.

Staff writer Dan Janison contributed to this column.

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© 2001 Newsday, Inc. Reprinted with permission.