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NYPD gets cold shoulder

March 19, 2004

Now that Police Commissioner Ray Kelly has given the Intelligence Division a national and international mandate, its detectives are discovering that life outside New York City is no bowl of cherries.

The detectives have received sour receptions in New Jersey, Boston and now Spain.

Kelly dispatched the Intel detectives to Spain after last week's terrorist bombings in Madrid that killed 202 people.

Kelly said this week that the detectives will remain there, "as long as they're helpful and providing crucial information."

But a law enforcement official familiar with the situation said the Spanish National Police, who are conducting the bombing investigation, refused to meet with them. According to the official, the Spanish National Police called the American embassy's legal attache in Madrid to say they had no time for the NYPD and sought to continue working with the FBI.

"The SNP was aware two NYPD detectives were on the way or were already there and wanted nothing to do with them," the official said. "We don't know if contact was ever made with the Spanish National Police. The FBI never heard from the two."

NYPD spokesman Paul Browne did not return a call seeking comment.

The detectives' reception in Spain was just the latest rebuff for traveling Intel detectives.

Last month, they went to Boston to either (choose your own word here) observe, attend or spy on a group of political demonstrators. The NYPD was apparently concerned the group might demonstrate at the Republican National Convention here in August and September.

But as seems to be their modus operandi under Intelligence head David Cohen, the detectives did not inform the local authorities of their plans.

Because of this, the Intel detectives were unaware that the meeting was being monitored by the Massachusetts State Police, who were concerned the group might demonstrate at the Democratic National Convention in Boston in July.

When the detectives arrived in a car with New York license plates, the state police became suspicious. After the meeting, they followed the NYPD detectives' car, eventually stopping it for speeding.

According to a law enforcement official, a 10- to 15-minute "dialogue" then occurred before the New York cops identified themselves.

Col. Thomas Foley of the Massachusetts State Police, told Newsday, "I have no comment on the matter."

Last fall Intel detectives infuriated local law enforcement authorities in southern New Jersey by failing to inform them of an undercover operation into scuba diving shops. The Jersey officials learned of the plan when the scuba shop owners became suspicious and called the authorities.

Countdown. It will be 10 months next week since Ousmane Zongo, an unarmed African immigrant, was fatally shot by Officer Bryan Conroy during an undercover operation in a Chelsea warehouse.

Since the May 22 shooting, there has been not a peep about the case from Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau, including why no grand jury has been impaneled.

Conroy's lawyer, Stuart London, said Morgenthau is waiting for results from tests on the men's clothing. If both their DNA is found on the same garment, he said, it could back up Conroy's story that Zongo was shot during a struggle.

The busted buff. Teddy Leb, who heads the police buff group "NY Cops," received a desk appearance ticket after being charged with impersonating an FBI agent and carrying a pistol without a proper permit.

For reasons that remain vague, Leb and NY Cops director Howard Weinberg were videotaping a couple, Helen Antonio, 45, and Yiannis Leonidou, 19, as they boarded a Virgin-Atlantic Airlines plane at Kennedy Airport Monday.

After Leonidou tried to wrest the camera from Leb, a scuffle ensued. By the time things settled down, Port Authority police and the NYPD's Internal Affairs Bureau had appeared. Leonidou was charged with attempted petty larceny, Weinberg with impersonating an FBI agent and the unlawful use of an NYPD emblem.

Meanwhile, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown has called for a special prosecutor because one of the defendant's relatives works for him.

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© 2004 Newsday, Inc. Reprinted with permission.