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Chief Mike Marino: It's Complicated

April 21, 2014

Staten Island’s Deputy Chief Mike Marino went on vacation to Florida last week with his fiancée, Sgt. Amanda Palmenta, and her 7-year-old daughter.

For at least four days, a patrol car sat outside their home while they were gone. An officer sat inside the patrol car Wednesday afternoon and, when asked why she was there, she said, “I don’t know. They told me to come here.”

Patrol car watches over home of Staten Island's Deputy Chief Mike Marino.

Even NYPD chiefs are not supposed to have their homes guarded by patrol cars when they are away unless a reason is documented.

So was there a threat to Marino? To Palmenta? To their house, which they purchased in 2013 for $982,000 in one of Staten Island’s more pricey neighborhoods? Maybe the threat was of vandalism to Marino’s two cars — one his own, the second a department SUV — that sat in the driveway?

If so, no one is saying.

Neither Marino nor his boss — the Staten Island Borough Commander, Assistant Chief Ed Delatorre — returned phone calls about department personnel using police vehicles seemingly to conduct 24-hour security for a boss.

Retired chief of department Joe Esposito, said of Marino: “I guarantee that Mike Marino did not ask for a cruiser to be posted at the house. Probably he asked that a car go by his house. I am sure his instructions were misinterpreted.”

Maybe, maybe not. When it comes to Marino, little is that simple. He’s a charismatic and controversial guy, the rare NYPD officer unafraid to buck the hierarchy, and with a personal life so intertwined with the department it can best be described as “complicated.”

While commander of the 75th Precinct in Brooklyn, he was not afraid to tangle with the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association over what the union claimed were his overbearing demands for more stops and arrests.

“He is a cop to the marrow of his bones,” said Esposito. “He loves police work. He’s a great leader. He makes the cops work. The hardworking cops love and respect him. The lazy cops fear him.”

In 2007, as executive officer of Brooklyn Patrol Borough North, Marino got caught up in a steroid scandal. His name was one of 27 officers who turned up in the records of a Bay Ridge pharmacy that had sold $8 million in steroids and human growth hormones.

Marino admitted buying a topical steroid cream from the pharmacy but said it was for low testosterone. He volunteered to take a drug test and passed.

An ongoing investigation determined he also had been issued a prescription for human growth hormones. But he refused to accept the department’s plea deal and insisted on going to trial. He was found guilty, docked 30 days’ pay and given a year’s probation.

“He took a heavy hit in the steroids case,” Esposito said. “I understand he had a legitimate health condition. That’s why he fought it so vigorously. He convinced me, but he didn’t get promoted in the last administration.”

Then on Halloween night, 2009, he led a police team that rousted Police Officer Adrian Schoolcraft from his Queens apartment after he had left his Brooklyn precinct before his tour ended.

Marino ordered Schoolcraft be taken against his will to Jamaica Hospital, where he was confined to its psychiatric ward for five days.

Schoolcraft has claimed that Marino’s actions were retaliation for Schoolcraft’s having accused his commanders in the 81st Precinct of downgrading crimes from felonies to misdemeanors to make the area the precinct covers appear safer than it was. An internal investigation confirmed Schoolcraft’s crime-downgrading claims. He is suing the department for $50 million.

Two months later, Marino was transferred to Staten Island as the executive officer, or number two, in charge in the borough.

Meanwhile, he began seeing Palmenta, who had worked under him when he commanded the 75th Precinct.

Palmenta was also transferred to Staten Island, where she works in a robbery unit.

Now here is where it gets complicated.

In 2011, Palmenta divorced her husband, Manny DaSilva, an NYPD sergeant. He got custody of their daughter and retired in 2012 so that he could care for her, he told this reporter.

DaSilva’s name also surfaced in the steroid scandal and he was placed on modified assignment.

While working as a security guard at an Apple store in Soho in 2012, he was arrested in connection with the theft of $76,000 of Apple products and pleaded guilty to petit larceny.

Meanwhile, Marino has become part of the custody battle between DaSilva and Palmenta over their daughter.

DaSilva says that, after Palmenta began seeing Marino, she repeatedly violated the custody agreement, preventing him from seeing her.

In the past five months, DaSilva has been arrested six times in connection with his daughter, which led to an order of protection against him.

Because of the court order, he said he had been unable to see her since December. “I wasn’t allowed to go to her communion because Amanda said her fiancé would be there and it would make our daughter uncomfortable if I attended. The last time I saw my daughter was on Christmas Eve. She called me Michael. It almost broke my heart.”

There is one further complication for Marino.

He has been married three times. His last marriage was in 2010 to Sandra Arroyo, a retired NYPD sergeant, whom he met in 1985 when he was a sergeant in the 73rd Precinct in Brooklyn and she was a rookie officer.

They are still legally married.

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