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The Deputy Inspector and The Bravest Fund

October 8, 2007

Did a high-ranking New York City Police Department official rip off a firemen’s fund for 9/11 victims?

According to the anonymous letter circulating at the highest levels of the police department, Deputy Inspector Vincent Marra of the Criminal Intelligence Section of the Intelligence Division, received $1,000 from The Bravest Fund of firefighters in 2002 to help pay for surgery to remove a benign tumor from his chest.

A source in the Intelligence Division said Marra elected to have his surgery via his back rather than through his chest to avoid possible scarring but that his medical insurer refused to cover the cost.

A review of The Bravest fund’s filings with the state’s attorney general’s office reveals that the fund gave Marra $1,000 in 2002.

The Bravest Fund’s mission statement, also filed with the state, says it was established “for the primary purpose of raising money from the public and private sources for the ultimate benefit to the victims of Sept. 11, 2001 World Trade Center disaster, as well as for firefighters, police officers, emergency service workers and their families who are victims of tragedies in general.”

The Bravest Fund’s attorney, Joe Pierpont, said in a telephone interview two weeks ago that Marra’s check had been signed by one of the fund’s three directors, its treasurer Bill Eisengrein. But he said the Fund had no records of Marra’s file, including his application to justify the award, perhaps because it was a relatively small grant.

Pierpont explained that any one of the Fund’s three directors can sponsor an award and that Eisengrein had sponsored Marra’s at the behest of another police officer, who approached him about Marra.

Asked the identity of that officer — whose name is mentioned in the anonymous letter which was sent to Internal Affairs Chief Charles Campisi and First Deputy Commissioner George Grasso — Pierpont said last week that Eisengrein “doesn’t remember. He remembers it was a friend but does not remember it well enough as it happened a long time ago.”

Eisengrein could not be reached for comment.

The officer who had approached Eisengrein on Marra’s behalf is a second-grade female detective in the Intelligence Division. She declined comment when contacted by this reporter, who also obtained a copy of the anonymous letter.

The letter went on to say that initially Marra — aware that the female detective was friendly with Eisengrein — had promised to promote her to first-grade if she were able to obtain $10,000 from The Bravest Fund.

According to the letter, after she explained to Marra she could only get $1,000 for him, Marra said “he would not be able to get her promoted due to D.C. Cohen not knowing who she was.”

Cohen is Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence David Cohen, who for the past six years has been revered by Police Commissioner Ray Kelly as the city’s protector from a future terrorist attack.

Already, says a police official, there are indications the department is attempting to downplay Marra’s case. “They want to deep-six that letter,” said the official.

Printable versionMarra did not return messages left at his office and on his cell phone.

According to police sources, he recently filed for retirement.

The News’ Kisses.
Last week, noting that a Daily News editorial kissed Intelligence Division Deputy Chief Thomas Galati for preventing the Iranian delegation from departing Kennedy airport for the United Nations for 40 minutes, Your Humble Servant asked: What’s between the News’ owner Mort Zuckerman and the Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence David Cohen?

This week, noting a News editorial kissing the NYPD’s new alcohol testing plan after police shootings, this column asks: What’s between the News’ Pulitzer-Prize-winning and normally sane editorial page editor Art Browne, Police Commissioner Kelly and Kelly’s spokesman Paul Browne, known in this column as “Mr. Truth?”

On Friday, under the headline “Courage Under Fire,” a News editorial praised the actions of police officers Daniel Rivera and William Gonzalez, who were shot by a gunman they were trying to arrest. The officers fired back, then arrested him.

The editorial continued: “After the incident, a new policy was implemented — administration of a Breathalyzer test whenever an officer wounds or kills a suspect.” The editorial noted that both cops passed their tests, which were prompted by last year’s police killing of Sean Bell, an unarmed civilian.

Then came the following: “Despite union opposition, the tests do not violate cops’ rights. If anything, they instantly vindicate cops’ actions. In other words, the tests are not an attack on officers, but another weapon in their arsenal.”

Get a grip, Art. How does proof of sobriety “instantly vindicate cops’ actions?“ Does merely the fact that cops are sober justify whatever they do?

In fact, the NYPD’s new Breathalyzer policy is a red herring, pandering to Commissioner Kelly’s mayoral ambitions, because of outrage over the police’s 50-shot barrage that killed Bell and wounded his companion.

If the policy is legit, why not test all cops who fire their guns, period — whether or not they hit anyone?

In Bell’s shooting, one of those shooters was an undercover who had been drinking at the club where Bell and his friends were hanging. His drinking was within department guidelines as part of an undercover operation.

If Bell’s shooting had occurred today, would the undercover be penalized for performing his job?

Oh, and by the way, whatever happened to Commissioner Kelly’s review of its drinking policy for undercover operations? Nearly a year after the Bell shooting, we haven’t heard a word about that.

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Copyright © 2007 Leonard Levitt