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Dermot Shea’s “Payback” Transfer

November 14, 2011

The NYPD seems to have taken payback to a new level. The department appears to have retaliated against the brother of a deputy chief who earlier this year embarrassed a high-profile civilian deputy commissioner.

Last March, Deputy Chief James Shea, who headed the NYPD part of the Joint [NYPD-FBI]Terrorism Task Force, refused a possibly unlawful order by Deputy Commissioner of Counter-Terrorism Richard Daddario to remove classified FBI documents from the Bureau’s New York headquarters.

Daddario’s order to Shea occurred around the same time that Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence David Cohen ordered Inspector John Nicholson, the department’s number two man at the JTTF, to remove classified FBI documents concerning the killing of Osama bin Laden.

Like Shea, Nicholson refused. Kelly then whisked him out of the JTTF to Patrol Borough Brooklyn South.

Initially, Kelly held back transferring Shea because of protests from FBI officials. But two months later, he transferred him to the Police Academy.

Meanwhile the Department of Justice in Washington has been probing how information in high-profile terror cases has leaked out to reporters. While the scope of the investigation remains unclear, police sources say that Shea has testified at least once before a Washington federal grand jury and is expected to testify again soon.

Then, last August, three months after Kelly transferred Shea, the department bounced Shea’s brother, Inspector Dermot F. Shea, the commander of the high-crime 44th precinct in the Bronx, to a desk job in Bronx Detectives.

Although the Daily News reported that Dermot Shea’s transfer resulted from a run-in with Internal Affairs head Charles Campisi, a former high-ranking police official disputed that. “That wasn’t just a transfer,” he said. “It was a ‘dump.’“

Dermot Shea didn’t last long in Bronx Detectives. A month or so later, he was transferred again, this time to Manhattan Detectives, where he is currently assigned. He declined to speak with this reporter.

Of course, it could be coincidence that both Shea brothers were transferred within months of each other and that Dermot Shea’s transfers were unrelated to his brother’s disagreements with Deputy Commissioner Daddario.

NYPD officials provided no clarity.

Neither Deputy Commissioner for Public Information Paul Browne nor DCPI’s commanding officer Kim Royster responded to emails, asking specifically why Dermot Shea was transferred twice in the three months and whether his transfers were related to his brother’s refusal to take classified FBI documents.

These questions hardly come from left field. Under Kelly, the NYPD has been scapegoating top brass for the mistakes of another high-profile civilian Deputy Commissioner.

In 2003, the New York Times revealed that the department had questioned arrested anti-Iraq war protestors in their prison cells about their friends and political beliefs, then stored their answers in a data bank.

Instead of blaming Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence David Cohen, who orchestrated these interrogations, the department blamed Cohen’s outgoing commanding officer, Assistant Chief John Cutter.

In 2009, Cohen ordered Intel detectives to interview a police informant in the investigation of would-be subway bomber Najibullah Zazi. The informant then tipped off Zazi.

When NYPD Confidential and then the Times disclosed this blunder — and the fact that Cohen did not inform the FBI, which was heading the investigation — the department transferred Intel’s Deputy Inspector Paul Ciora, who had nothing to do with the interviewing the informant.

State Senator Eric Adams says that Commissioner Kelly offered a bizarre explanation with racial overtones in defending the department’s controversial stop-and-frisk policies.

According to the Civil Liberties Union, since 2003 there have more than 3 million police stops of New Yorkers, mostly black and Hispanic teenagers, nine-tenths of whom have been completely innocent.

Last Thursday, Adams said on NY1’s “Inside City Hall” that “Commissioner Kelly had told him the reason we are stopping black and Hispanic youth is because we want to instill in them the fear that anytime they leave their homes they can be stopped and searched by police.”

Adams also questioned why Kelly wanted that lesson taught only to blacks and Hispanics.

Department officials provided no clarity on the issue. Neither Browne nor Royster responded to emails asking whether Kelly had actually made those remarks.

Leonard Levitt's new book, NYPD Confidential: Power and Corruption in the Country's Greatest Police Force, will be out in stores July 21. Preorder it today by clicking on the book at right.

Had Rudy Giuliani or former police commissioner Howard Safir made them, the entire city, and especially the black political class, would be in an uproar. Today, there is silence.

ThinkProgress, a leftish political blog that describes itself as providing “a forum that advances progressive ideas and policies,” says it has discovered five donors who have contributed $112,000 of the $295,000 to the police department’s secret fund: the NYPD Counter-Terrorism Foundation [See last week’s column].

One of them is The Hammerman and Fisch Foundation, which ThinkProgress says donated $25,000 in 2009 to the Counter-Terrorism Foundation.

That sounds like Stephen Hammerman, former Deputy Commissioner for Legal Matters, and his family.

“Many of the donors come from the ranks of New York’s financial industry,” says ThinkProgress. “Among other things, some of the philanthropic giants have funded right-wing pro-Israel projects.”

Founded in 1913, following the lynching of a Jewish factory manager who was falsely accused of murdering ayoung female employee, the Anti-Defamation League describes itself as “the world’s leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, bigotry and prejudice.”

Maybe that was true in 1913. It doesn’t seem like the case today.

More recently, the ADL has been cozying up to law enforcement — particularly the NYPD and those fighting the so-called “war on terrorism.”

Earlier this month, the ADL honored Assistant Chief Thomas Galati, commanding officer of the Intelligence Division.

It awarded him the William and Naomi Gorowitz Institute Service Award, which, according to an ADL press release, “salutes outstanding achievements in combating terrorism, extremism and injustice.”

Four years ago, the ADL honored Galati’s Intel boss, David Cohen, making him the first recipient of the Giovanni Palatucci award, named after the police chief of Fiurme, who saved more than 3,500 Jews during the Holocaust in World War II.

“Commissioner Cohen works against the forces of hatred and extremism to make New York City safe for its people of all backgrounds to live, work and worship,” ADL head Abraham Foxman said at the time.

That description seems, at best, amusing, considering that the Intelligence Division has for years conducted a massive secret spy operation on Muslim mosques, schools, restaurants, student groups and non-governmental organizations.

As for Galati, an ADL press release on Nov. 7 describes him as being on the “frontline in the war on terror.”

That he is, although in at least one case Galati created his own frontline, to the ire of our diplomatic corps.

Back in 2007, Galati was out at Kennedy Airport, along with officials from the Secret Service, the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service and the Port Authority Police to handle an arriving Iranian diplomatic delegation to the United Nations, including its President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The NYPD had brought out numerous cars to escort the Iranians into the city. The cars were to be escorted by the Port Authority Police to the airport exit. From there, the NYPD and Secret Service were to take over for the ride into Manhattan.

But after the plane landed, Galati, apparently on orders from Cohen, blocked the Iranians from leaving the airport.

He claimed that the number of armed Iranian security guards exceeded the number listed on the manifold that the U.S. requires visiting foreign dignitaries to submit in advance.

Galati then insisted on a weapons security check on the delegation, although the Secret Service, Port Authority police and the Diplomatic Security Service maintained that this would violate diplomatic protocol and harm our own diplomats overseas.

Galati backed off. Instead, he held up the Iranians for 40 minutes while the Port Authority, Secret Service and Diplomatic Security officials fumed.

The Iranians were permitted to depart the airport only after the Chief of the Port Authority Police complained to the NYPD’s Chief of Department, Joe Esposito.

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Copyright © 2011 Leonard Levitt