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Grasso was gift to NYPD

September 29, 2003

With his $140 million retirement package, ex-New York Stock Exchange Chairman Richard Grasso may be a symbol of greed to the world at large. But at least one city agency has been the beneficiary of his generosity - the New York City Police Department.

According to figures supplied by the stock exchange, Grasso has been contributing to the department since 1984. Since 1998, he has donated $635,000 to the city's Police Foundation, said Pam Delaney, the foundation's president.

So enamored is Grasso of the NYPD that in 2000 he called it "the greatest police force in the history of civilization." [And received this column's Boob of the Month Award for making that statement the very week four cops were acquitted of gunning down the unarmed African immigrant Amadou Diallo.]

Grasso is both a foundation trustee and former honoree at its annual $500-a-head dinner at One Police Plaza. His contributions to the Police Foundation through the NYSE Foundation were both foundations' largest annual gifts.

While this column's description of the Police Foundation as a "glorified slush fund" for the police commissioner is perhaps hyperbole, the Wall Street-dominated group is, nonetheless, the commissioner's personal fund-raising arm. Some of its gifts are pure gold-plated beneficence - such as bullet proof vests, horses for the Mounted Unit, rewards for Crime Stoppers and assistance to officers following 9/11. A few have been controversial, such as the tens of thousands of dollars for former commissioner Bill Bratton's consultant/friends, or the few thousand dollars for Bernard Kerik's busts of himself.

Because basing police officers overseas is beyond the scope of the department's charter, current commissioner Ray Kelly turned to the foundation when he began his overseas spy service, which has stationed officers in Canada, France, London, Germany and Israel, and which has infuriated the FBI. Their purpose is to compete with the FBI and CIA for New York City-related terrorism information. The foundation pays the detectives' expenses, which total $200,000 a year.

Because of this unusual arrangement, there appears to be no accountability for the program. When asked about its effectiveness, Kelly grows testy. While he has provided a financial accounting, Delaney says she has never asked Kelly for a formal evaluation.

Has he provided one for Mayor Michael Bloomberg?

"The mayor has complete confidence in the police commissioner," mayoral spokesman, Ed Skyler, said.

One of the few times the foundation turned down a police commissioner's request occurred when Howard Safir asked it to pay for an ad in the New York Times to defend himself after the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association called for his resignation.

Here now, from figures supplied by the stock exchange, is a breakdown since 1997 of Grasso's contributions to the Police Foundation.

1997: $15,000, "continuing support;" $10,000, "annual gala;" $10,000, bullet-proof vest program; $4,000, police foundation journal ad. Total: $39,000.

1998: $15,000, "continued support;" $25,000, annual gala; $3,500 "to underwrite the Crime-Stoppers Program's 'An Evening of Mystery';" $3,000, journal ad. Total: $46,500.

1999: $20,000, "ongoing support;" $25,000 "additional table at the annual gala;" $3,500, "journal ad for gala;" $5,000, Chief Louis Anemone Testimonial Dinner. Total: $53,500

2000: $50,000, "ongoing support;" 50,000, "annual gala;" $250, the annual outing to the department's firing range;" $1,500, testimonial dinner honoring First Deputy Commissioner Patrick Kelleher; $2,600, testimonial dinner honoring Howard Safir. Total: $104,350.

2001: $50,000, "ongoing support;" $70,000, annual gala; $700, Chief John Scanlon retirement dinner. Total: $120,700.

2002: $50,000, ongoing support; $155,000, annual gala; $1,250, retirement dinner for First Deputy Joe Dunne; $1,250, testimonial dinner for Commissioner Bernard Kerik; $3,750, testimonial dinner for Chief Allan Hoehl; $2,000, retirement dinner for Chief James Lawrence; $300, annual outing to firing range; $3,500, journal ad; $1,100, retirement dinner, Chief Michael Fox. Total: $218,150.

Baghdad Bernie's Final Word. Reader Bill Z. writes: Your column re: B. Kerik did not address the status of his job in Iraq. Did he complete the job? Did he resign before completion and someone else will take over? Was he terminated?

Kerik: "I completed the job. I reconstituted the Ministry of Interior, which includes police, fire, customs and border patrol. The actual Minister of Interior Nouri Badran was appointed two days before I left. As to my successor, it's up to the Defense Department. They are processing somebody right now. He's a civilian police type.

"And I have no recollection of Robin Acosta," he said in reference to the corrections officer who contends that in 1995 he notified Kerik, then the first deputy correction commissioner, about possible corruption in the department.

"1995? Hey that's eight years ago. How am I supposed to remember him?" Kerik said.

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© 2003 Newsday, Inc. Reprinted with permission.