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The Timlin Mystery

July 5, 2010

It was just a small item in the Post, but it may have larger implications.

The NYPD’s Legal Bureau determined that it was a conflict of interest for police officers to work off-duty for a company doing business with the city.

While that seems like a no-brainer, the ruling affected two firms: Allied Barton Security Services of King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, which had placed about 80 cops in office buildings housing city agencies, and Michael Stapleton Associates, which uses 40 bomb squad canine handlers and Emergency Service detectives to handle terrorism threats at the Staten Island ferry terminal.

But the Post article omitted the most intriguing part: the president of Michael Stapleton Associates is Patrick Timlin, who retired from the NYPD in 2002, when Ray Kelly became Commissioner for the second time. Timlin joined Stapleton in 2004, then returned to the NYPD last year in a high-profile civilian job: Deputy Commissioner for Operations.

According to Stapleton’s website, Timlin is listed as president, “currently on leave; serving as the NYPD, Deputy Commissioner of Operations.”

Asked whether he still maintained an equity position in the firm, Timlin referred questions to the department’s public information office, whose head, Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne, did not respond to this reporter’s email.

OK, what’s going on?

First, the three-year, $12.5 million, S.I. ferry contract expires in 2011, which means it was signed before Timlin rejoined the NYPD.

Second, the NYPD’s Legal Division is anything but a proactive outfit. “They don’t sit around thinking of those things,” said a former high-ranking police official.

So why, when, and at whose direction did they undertake their review of the conflict of interest issue? Did someone drop a dime? And if so, who?

Was it a competitor of Stapleton?

Was it, for some Machiavellian reason, someone in the NYPD, taking a shot at Timlin?

Or was it mere coincidence? Recall the line of former Deputy Commissioner Alice McGillion: “Never underestimate incompetence.”

On the other hand, nothing in this police department happens without Kelly’s imprimatur. Could this have been the first policy decision regarding conflict of interest made without his knowledge or stamp of approval? Seems doubtful.

As for Timlin, a former Bronx borough commander, he runs the testosterone-charged COMPSTAT meetings, which were begun by former commissioner William Bratton. In that job, Timlin is the successor to such hard-chargers as former Chief of Department Louis Anemone, Garry McCarthy, who now heads the Newark police department, and Phil Pulaski, now the Chief of Detectives.

Timlin is even considered a successor to Kelly, should he ever step down and Bloomberg not seek a fourth or a fifth term.

Browne told the Post that letters informing the 120 cops affected by Legal Department’s ruling may have gone out too fast, and that Kelly was reviewing the matter.

Because, under Kelly, nobody knows anything about what goes on inside the NYPD, one can only wait and watch.

Sal Reale of the Gambino crime family is best known for organizing the 14-hour luncheon at the Altadonna restaurant in 1983 with two top city lawmen — Queens District Attorney John Santucci and the head of the NYPD’s Intelligence Division Pete Prezioso.

That marathon sit-down ended up killing both their careers. Prezioso was forced to retire. Santucci subsequently resigned.

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Well, it seems that Reale, who spent 31 years as the Gambinos’ man at the city airports, was also linked to other lawmen — in the CIA, if you can believe that.

Carlo Gambino gave him the lucrative airport job, which, after Gambino died, Reale managed to keep through the reigns of two more Gambino bosses. The first was Paul Castellano, the second John Gotti, who had big Paul whacked in 1986.

Now comes news that Reale figured prominently in a 1991 deposition of a discredited “independent contractor” for the CIA, one Richard Brenneke.

This character claimed to have smuggled drugs into the U.S. for Reale and Gotti as part of an arms deal for the Nicaraguan resistance, known as the Contras. Brenneke claimed he was reporting to the national security analyst for then Vice President George H.W. Bush, implying that Bush The Elder knew about these illegal operation.

While Brenneke’s allegations regarding Bush proved false, nobody ever questioned his stories about Reale. Sources said Reale worked at Kennedy through Local 295 of the Teamsters Union, and, apparently with Gotti’s approval, made up phony union jobs for other CIA operatives supposedly smuggling in arms through Kennedy.

In 1990, after Reale pleaded guilty to extorting money from an air freight company at Kennedy in return for labor peace, federal Judge Jack Weinstein sentenced him to 15 years in prison. However, the judge suddenly suspended the sentence, cryptically stating that imprisoning Reale would “likely result in his death, either by his own hand or the hands of someone else. He knows too much.”

The judge then placed him on probation and banished him from New York for five years.

Reale didn’t remain free long. That same year, federal agents in the Texas border town of Sierra Blanca stopped his car and seized $3.8 million in cash and an additional $96,000 in Swiss francs. Weinstein then threw the book at Reale, giving him ten years in prison for violating his parole.

Reale has since relocated to the West. Weinstein declined comment.

The promotion of deer-in-the headlights-like Inspector Edward Mullen, commanding officer of the Public Information office, to Deputy Chief, no doubt as a reward for providing virtually no information to reporters.

We also note the black-track promotion of Chief Phil Banks to head the Bureau of Community Affairs, succeeding Chief Douglas Zeigler and Chief Joyce Stephen. This continues Kelly’s tradition of turning what was once a civilian job into one for a black chief.

Disregarding an incriminating videotape, a Manhattan jury acquitted police officer David London last week of using excessive force against an Iraq veteran trying to visit his mom in an Upper West Side housing project. The jury believed London, despite a video showing him wielding his police baton while the handcuffed vet was on the project’s lobby floor.

It was a spectacular win for the defense, which included a young attorney with a name familiar in police circles.Veteran PBA attorney Steve Worth was lead counsel. He was aided, or “second-seated,” as they say in the lawyer business, by 26-year-old Cary London [no relation to the defendant.] Rather, he is the son of Worth’s partner, Stuart London, and a recent graduate of the University of Virginia and New York Law school. Welcome to the police world, Cary.

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