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Cop targeted in probe of national security leak

April 18, 2003

An NYPD sergeant assigned to an elite police and FBI intelligence unit is under federal investigation for allegedly leaking classified documents involving national security, law enforcement sources said.

The sergeant, John Galasso of the Joint Terrorist Task Force, allegedly sent sensitive Department of Homeland Security documents known as terrorist bullets to WB11 in the last month, the sources said.

"It's regarded as top secret involving national security," an NYPD source told Newsday, adding that the investigation is "being done by the feds."

A source outside the NYPD said the material was faxed from the Police Department. It could not be immediately determined if the leak breached national security or exactly what information was contained in the documents, which provide updates to police.

A police administrative aide who answered the phone at the Joint Terrorist Task Force Wednesday said Galasso was "not working today. I don't know when he is coming back."

Galasso could not be reached for comment. Karen Scott, the news director for WB11, declined to comment yesterday. WB11 and Newsday are owned by the Tribune Co.

A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's office and an FBI spokesman both declined to comment.

Law enforcement sources said Police Commissioner Ray Kelly personally involved himself in the investigation. The probe has been handed over to Assistant Manhattan U.S. Attorney Andrew Dember, who heads the Public Corruption Unit, the sources said.

Two sources outside the Police Department said Galasso has been suspended during the investigation, though official police records show Galasso still working for the task force.

The sources also said that since the investigation began, Insp. Charles Wells, a long-time police Intelligence Division veteran who headed the task force, has been transferred and now serves as the executive officer of Brooklyn Detectives. The sources could not say whether the transfer was directly related to the federal probe of Galasso.

Wells did not return a telephone call to his Brooklyn office.

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© 2003 Newsday, Inc. Reprinted with permission.