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The Inspector and His Honey-Bunny

October 15, 2007

The police department’s Internal Affairs Bureau is investigating allegations that a high-level Intelligence Division official secretly traveled with a female detective while on a confidential out-of-state assignment.

According to sources in Intel, Deputy Inspector Vincent Marra’s out-of-state assignment on the tax-payer dime concerned the 2004 Republican National Convention. The role of the female detective, who was not authorized for the out-of-state assignment, remains unclear.

The police department has come under fire for sending Intelligence Division operatives out of state and even overseas to spy on groups planning to protest at the convention, which was held at Madison Square Garden.

The New York Civil Liberties Union is suing the department, seeking confidential Intelligence Division reports on its spying.

Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence David Cohen has argued that releasing Intel documents related to the convention could threaten national security.

This isn’t the only female detective linked to Marra under questionable circumstances.

Marra is also under investigation for the circumstances under which he received $1,000 from The Bravest Fund, a charity for 9/11 victims. In 2002 the Fund awarded Marra the money for surgery for which his insurer refused to pay.

According to an anonymous letter sent to Internal Affairs Chief Charles Campisi, Marra received the money after pressuring a second female Intel detective to persuade her boyfriend, Bravest Fund treasurer Bill Eisengrein, to give him $10,000. Eisengrein would only give $1,000.

A year later, that detective was promoted to second-grade. She said through her attorney that her promotion had nothing to do with her assistance to Marra in obtaining the $1,000.

Marra is under investigation for holding an unauthorized Intelligence Division collection to obtain money to pay for his surgery. Those who did not want to contribute were blacklisted and held back from coveted assignments and promotions, Intelligence sources say. The letter to Campisi says he raised $25,000 and later boasted it had paid for his ski house in Hunter Mountain.Marra laterconvinced his insurance to cover most of the costs of the surgery, the sources say.

Marra did not return a call to his cell phone seeking comment. Campisi also did not return a call.

Both the female detective and Marra recently filed for retirement but both have pulled back their papers. The detective maintained she pulled her papers back because she did nothing wrong.

Sources in Intel say Marra also announced he has changed his mind about retirement. Others speculate that IAB is preventing him from putting in his papers while its investigation continues.

Sources say he had planned to join a private security firm with a top Intelligence Division official, also on the verge of retirement although he has not yet informed Cohen he is leaving.

Marra is far from Cohen’s only problem.

Last month, this column reported his unsuccessful attempt on last year’s 9/11 anniversary to prevent President Bush from visiting Ladder Company 10/Engine Company, the firehouse nearest Ground Zero. The company, on Liberty Street, lost five firefighters in the Twin Towers.

According to sources in the Intelligence Division, before Bush’s arrival, Cohen personally inspected the firehouse and announced to the Secret Service that it was unsafe for Bush to visit. After a call from Washington [said to be from the White House] to Mayor Bloomberg, Cohen was summoned to Kelly’s office and forced to apologize to the Secret Service. Bush visited the firehouse, although he did so the evening before the anniversary on Sept. 10. Press accounts at the time described his visit as “unscheduled.”

Two weeks ago, this column reported how Cohen, through newly appointed Intelligence Deputy Chief Thomas Galati, detained the Iranian delegation accompanying its president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at Kennedy airport. The police delayed the Iranians for 40 minutes after Galati demanded a weapons check of the delegation. He backed off after the Secret Service, the State Department and the Diplomatic Security Service protested, maintaining this would violate diplomatic protocol.

While the Intelligence Division under Cohen appears to be running amuck [more on that next week], Cohen was honored last week by the Anti-Defamation League, an organization that appears to have outlived its usefulness..

Cohen, a 35-year veteran of the CIA who became the first civilian to head the Intelligence Division after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, became the first recipient of an award named after an Italian police chief who saved more than 3,500 lives during the Holocaust. Giovanni Palatucci, the police chief of Fiurme, forged documents and visas that allowed thousands of Jews to escape death in concentration camps during World War II. He was caught and died in the Dachau concentration camp in 1944.

ADL president, Abraham Foxman, said Cohen was feted because of his anti-terrorism efforts.

"Commissioner Cohen works against forces of hatred and extremism to make New York City safe for people of all backgrounds to live, work, and worship," Foxman said at the ceremony, according to the New York Sun.

In his acceptance speech, Cohen spoke of the NYPD's fight against anti-Semitism in New York after recent vandalism against some Brooklyn synagogues.

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, who appointed Cohen, also spoke, citing Cohen's intelligence work during the 2004 Republican National Convention. He praised Cohen for preventing protesters from disrupting the convention.

The ADL was founded in 1913 following the lynching of Leo Frank, a Jewish factory worker in Georgia falsely accused of raping a white woman.

Since then, the ADL’s stated mission has been to fight anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry.

But in recent years it has catered more to concerns of wealthy Jews. In 2000, for example, Foxman wrote to President Bill Clinton, supporting a pardon for Marc Rich, a millionaire thief who had fled the country.

Last week it was quick to scold right-wing iconoclast/nutcase Ann Coulter for saying something like Jews could get to heaven faster if they converted to Christianity.

But when an undeniable act of anti-Semitism occurred in New York City, the ADL remained silent for weeks.

In 1991, Yankel Rosenbaum was fatally stabbed in Brooklyn during what has come to be called the Crown Heights Riot. Hasidics, with their 18th century dress and old-fashioned ways, are considered an embarrassment to many assimilated Jews who support the ADL.

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Copyright © 2007 Leonard Levitt