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Molinari gives up police bodyguard

April 29, 2002

Guy Molinari lost his police protection last Thursday. Oh? You didn't know the former Staten Island borough president had a police bodyguard, although he's been out of public office since January?

Well, One Police Plaza didn't know either until a caller pointed out that the man standing next to Molinari in a picture in Newsday earlier this month (when Molinari appeared with ex-cop Chuck Schwarz for a hearing at Brooklyn federal court) was Molinari's longtime bodyguard Det. Jimmy Reyes of the Intelligence Division.

Asked why Molinari had kept his police protection when other out-of-office lights like City Council Speaker Peter Vallone and Public Advocate Mark Green had given up theirs, Deputy Commissioner for Public Information Michael O'Looney said: "Threats."

Asked who had sanctioned the police protection, O'Looney said the decision had been made by none other than Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, but that it was Molinari who decided to cancel it.

"It was his decision to end it," said O'Looney.

Perhaps it is coincidence that the decision to "cancel" Molinari's bodyguard, as O'Looney put it, came the day that Your Humble Servant had called both Molinari and O'Looney, asking why Molinari rated protection in the first place.

Perhaps it is also coincidence that Molinari is a longtime Kelly buddy who in December of 1993 arranged Kelly's interview at the Tudor Hotel in Manhattan with mayor-elect Rudolph Giuliani, whom Kelly unsuccessfully lobbied to keep his job as commissioner.

But let's point out a couple of things.

First, since when does an ordinary citizen (even if he is Guy Molinari) make the determination for the Police Department that a threat exists or no longer exists to justify police protection? All this time Your Humble Servant has been under the apparent misapprehension that the "Threat Assessment Unit" within the Intelligence Division makes those determinations.

Second, let's recall the last known "threat" on Molinari.

It occurred on Jan. 11, 2001, and it involved the same Det. Jimmy Reyes.

There was this black guy, Terrence Hunter, a budget analyst for then-Brooklyn borough president Howard Golden, who wrote a letter to Molinari protesting Molinari's closing of a neighborhood youth center and calling his action a "high-tech lynching."

According to Sgt. Joseph Simonetti of the Threat Assessment Unit, Reyes telephoned him that evening to say the letter so scared Molinari - a white guy - he wanted Hunter prosecuted. The result: Hunter was arrested and kept overnight in jail.

Molinari denied ever saying any such thing. So did Reyes. Simonetti was reprimanded and Molinari's second police bodyguard, John Pascone, was transferred.

But not to worry. Kelly is shaking up Intel. He has appointed a crack new chief Mike Tiffany, who acknowledges he's still getting the lay of the land. Then there's Tiffany's boss, Professor Cohen from the Central Intelligence Agency. Will it take an agency secret agent to solve the Molinari mystery?

Race Matters.
Perhaps because of the furor caused by Eric Adams' remark that black and Hispanic officers were losing ground under Kelly, or maybe because he's the most qualified man for the job, Kelly promoted Rafael Pineiro to chief of personnel Friday.

This makes Pineiro, a lawyer with a master's degree in management, the second Hispanic three-star chief, along with Nick Estavillo, whom Kelly appointed chief of patrol.

James Fyfe - the tactics expert who testified that the four cops who shot and killed Amadou Diallo acted appropriately and who Kelly appointed director of training - was not on the program.

The department now says that contrary to what this column reported last week, Fyfe was not scheduled to have been appointed Friday but that his appointment is a "done deal."

A top chief said he'd heard Fyfe's appointment had been delayed by City Hall but Bill Cunningham, Mayor Michael Bloomberg's communications director, says the Fyfe matter is Kelly's call.

More Race Matters.
Capt. Tom Higdon has become the department's fourth black precinct commander. This column also erred when it reported last week that there were no black precinct squad commanders.

There is one - Lt. Ronald Brooks of the 30th detective squad.

Bernie's Bust.
The winner of One Police Plaza's bust of former Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik is Rosemary Davis of Staten Island, the scion of a large police family, who made the high bid - $4. Her money will reimburse the Police Foundation, which paid $3,000 to make 30 Bernie busts, which an embarrassed Kerik has asked to be destroyed.

"I am making plans for a proper place to display my bust. Some sort of shrine," Davis says.

Sgt. Austin Morange, son of William Morange, chief of the Organized Crime Control Bureau where he served as his father's driver will become patrol supervisor of the midnight tour of Harlem's 25th precinct.

"No special favors for him," says the chief.

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© 2002 Newsday, Inc. Reprinted with permission.