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More Money Troubles for Pitch

June 11, 2007

A state judge has directed a top aide to former police commissioner Bernard Kerik to repay a $30,000 loan the aide received while heading the security subsidiary of former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.

John Picciano, who served as Kerik’s chief of staff in the police department, received the loan in August 2004 while working at Giuliani Partners, the former mayor’s consulting firm.

The lender was Robert Tucker, the owner of T@M Protection Resources, the city’s largest employer of off-duty and retired cops.

Tucker says he loaned Picciano the money after Giuliani Partners had considered purchasing his company. The deal was terminated by mutual consent, he says, and had no bearing on the loan.

“I loaned the money to Pitch because I thought we were good friends,” Tucker said in an interview.

A year later, in 2005, Tucker asked Kerik for help in getting his money back from Picciano. “Do you think you’re the only one?” he quoted Kerik as telling him

Kerik’s response, says Tucker, led him to file his law suit — so that he would be “first in line, ahead of Picciano’s other creditors.”

A confidante of some top law city enforcement officials, in particular Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, Tucker described his friendship with Picciano as “a business relationship solidified by ties to the police commissioner’s office.”

He made the loan to Picciano’s “The Gryphon Associates,” of 23 Thompson Street, Kings Park, L.I., whose address is Picciano’s former home. Tucker declined to say why Picciano had requested the loan.

According to court papers, Picciano wrote Tucker a repayment check of $31,000 shortly afterwards. “Picciano told me that the repayment check included an additional $1,000 as a ‘thank you’ from him for the loan,” Tucker stated.

According to the court papers, Picciano asked Tucker to hold check “for some time” before depositing it “so that he would be able to deposit sufficient funds into Gryphon’s account.”

Tucker held the check for over a year, until Oct. 26, 2005. When he deposited it, it bounced.

In addition to the $30,000, Manhattan State Supreme Court Judge Carol Edmead directed Picciano to pony up another $9,456.21 to Tucker in interest and fees, which included notices of his suit in several newspapers as Tucker was unable to locate Picciano to serve him with a subpoena.

An affidavit from process server I. Robert Gulinello stated that on May 23, 2006, Gulinello visited 23 Thompson Street in Kings Park and found it unoccupied. He also found Picciano’s wife, who was living in her mother’s home nearby.

“She also advised me that [Picciano] had left her and their five kids behind and went to Brazil,” Gulinello stated. “They have not heard or seen him for five months at the time of my attempt. She stated that the address at 23 Thompson Street is in foreclosure and that ‘a lot of people are looking for him.’”

Both Kerik and Picciano left Giuliani Partners at the end of 2004 after Kerik withdrew as Homeland Security Director amidst questions about his personal and financial improprieties.

Last year, Kerik pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge for accepting $165,000 in free renovations to his Bronx apartment from a contractor with alleged mob ties.

Kerik is reportedly now under investigation for income tax evasion and conspiring to wiretap the husband of former Westchester District Attorney Jeanine Pirro. Federal prosecutors are reportedly seeking to question Picciano about Kerik’s tax mess.

Besides serving as Kerik’s chief of staff in the police department, Pitch, a former corrections captain, worked under Kerik at Corrections. Kerik has described him as “a guy who instinctively knows how to get things done.”

At the NYPD, Pitch masterminded the purchase of four high-tech doors for $200,000 that proved too large for One Police Plaza. Police Commissioner Printable versionRay Kelly ordered an investigation because he said he could find no paperwork to justify their purchase, although nothing apparently came of the investigation.

Tucker said he recently communicated with Picciano by e-mail and said, “I believe that John has every intention of making good on this loan.”

Earlier this year, Picciano e-mailed this reporter saying he had returned to the U.S. but he refused to divulge his whereabouts. “I am just a simple man with a few harmless vices,” he said at the time.

He declined comment on this article. Kerik did not respond to an e-mail. Giuliani Partners spokeswoman Sunny Mindel also declined comment.

Cohen ..007. What are we to make of the June 6 declaration of Deputy Director of Intelligence David Cohen? After 35 years in the CIA, including five years as what he calls “the senior professional responsible for the preparation of all finished intelligence analysis provided to the nation’s national security leadership at the highest levels, including the President,” Cohen now leads New York City against terrorism.

In response to the New York Civil Liberties Union’s attempt to learn what justified the NYPD’s “no-summons” policy and blanket fingerprinting of 1806 people arrested at the 2004 Republican National Convention — many for the most minor of charges, some held for three days — Cohen argued against the release of any “raw, unevaluated field intelligence reports” from the NYPD’s Intelligence Division.

Specifically, Cohen argued against the release of any information, including the “case number, date of report, date of opening of investigation, person reporting, unit reporting, date, time and location of activities being reported on, description of activities, including code name of organization[s], name and or description of individual[s], meeting attended, topics discussed, conversations engaged in or overheard, things observed.”

His reason: the disclosure of any portion of the information contained in a raw, unevaluated intelligence field report could lead to the identification of undercover or confidential informants, whose identities are “the most protected personnel information in the NYPD.”

So is Cohen’s assessment correct? Or is he another James Jesus Angleton, the former cold war CIA Chief of Counter-Intelligence who believed that everyone, including his own CIA agents — perhaps Cohen included — were Soviet moles?

Then, there is Inspector Jacques Clouseau.

[To be continued.]

Last week this column ran the following paragraph about former police commissioner Ben Ward’s three-day disappearance during the Palm Sunday massacre in April 1984.

“It was only when a reporter — none other than Your Humble Servant — badgered department spokeswoman Alice T. McGillion that the truth emerged. Ward had been on a three-day bender with a girlfriend, traveling to motels between Baltimore and Washington. The department couldn’t locate him for three days — until he called from New Jersey, where his car had broken down, and asked the NYPD to transport him and the girlfriend back to the city.”

Well, it’s nice to know that, 23 years later, McGillion is a reader of this column. She pointed out that in describing the incident she never used the words “bender” or “girlfriend” and that the information about Ward’s car breaking down came from another source — not her.

McGillion’s exact words, after talking to Ward, as reported in New York Newsday in October 1984, were that Ward had been “on a holiday on a car trip in his own car visiting various places between Baltimore and Washington. It was social,” she quoted Ward as saying.

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Copyright © 2007 Leonard Levitt