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Harrington: Collateral Damage [Con't]

March 12, 2018

The federal corruption case against former deputy chief Michael Harrington smelled from the start. And the failure of his union, the Captains Endowment Association, to support him has left him broke and bitter.

Two years ago the feds labeled Harrington a cop “on call” to Jona Rechnitz and Jeremy Reichberg, two Orthodox Jewish hustlers at the heart of what appeared to be a giant NYPD corruption scandal at the highest levels of the department. This led to the indictments of Harrington and an inspector who allegedly was flown to Las Vegas on a private plane with a prostitute paid for by Rechnitz. At least eight other chiefs and inspectors were either transferred or placed on modified duty.

Click here to read what the police brass say about NYPD ConfidentialThe feds based their charges against Harrington on the word of Rechnitz, an accomplished liar and religious hypocrite who also happened to be rich and arrogant — a dangerous combination as the feds learned to their chagrin.

Specifically, the feds charged Harrington with accepting “personal and financial benefits” that “constituted clear violations of NYPD rules.”

These included thousands of dollars that Reichberg allegedly paid to a security company that the feds claimed was “run in part by Harrington’s family and which Harrington unofficially helped manage.” The feds also charged Harrington with accepting a free hotel room in Chicago from Rechnitz and a video game system for his children that Rechnitz and Reichberg delivered to Harrington’s home on Christmas Day.

If you thought these charges resembled a parboiled Nothing-burger, what Harrington pleaded guilty to earlier this month was a Nothing-burger even more undercooked. There was nothing about his security company, nothing about Chicago, nothing about accepting a video game; in short, not a word about receiving personal benefits.

Instead, in his allocution, which the feds accepted, Harrington said:

Click here to read the New York Times profile of Leonard Levitt“I intentionally misapplied … property belonging to the NYPD which, collectively, had a value of at least $5,000.

“I caused such property to be misapplied by dispatching NYPD personnel and resources for the benefit of Jeremy Reichberg and other members of the Jewish community, without following NYPD protocol to obtain proper authorization to do so …

“I arranged to extend an NYPD escort that had previously been set up by a precinct commander to accompany a hearse and funeral procession for a deceased individual that I understood was a prominent member of the Jewish community …

“I arranged for a group of campers from Camp Simcha — a summer camp for seriously ill children with cancer and other blood disorders — to visit the NYPD training grounds at Floyd Bennett Field, where the children were able to observe NYPD training and were given the opportunity to inspect and learn about various types of emergency service vehicles. …

“I arranged for an NYPD helicopter that I understood would otherwise already be in flight over the East River, to do a “fly over” above a party that Mr. Reichberg was hosting on a boat in the East River for members of the Jewish community. …

“I arranged for Mr. Reichberg and other guests, at what I understood was a law enforcement BBQ, to be given a ride on a launch operated by the NYPD Harbor Unit ….

“[D]ue to safety concerns prompted by world-wide terrorist attacks targeting Jewish communities, I arranged for the NYPD’s Counter Terrorism Squad to provide coverage for a midtown Synagogue during and around certain Jewish holidays.”

Are these crimes or department violations? They sound more like — dare we say it — neighborhood policing.

So why was Harrington indicted in the first place? Well, between May, 2013 and Nov., 2014, he served as the executive officer to then Chief of Dept. Philip Banks, the NYPD’s highest-uniformed officer.

The feds stumbled onto Banks in their investigation of Corrections Union president Norman Seabrook, whose trial last fall on corruption charges — based on the testimony of Rechnitz — resulted in a hung jury.

Banks was not indicted. His greatest failing was having befriended Rechnitz, who sometimes used Banks’s office to call the personal cell phone of Mayor Bill de Blasio, seeking favors for past campaign contributions. The mayor was also not indicted. Harrington was left holding an empty bag.

Click here to read the Washington Post article on NYPD ConfidentialThe Captains Endowment Union, which represents captains through deputy chiefs, refused to defend him. CEA president Roy Richter acknowledged the union wouldn’t pay for a lawyer but declined to say why. Police sources outside the union say this was because Harrington was charged with offenses deemed beyond the scope of his employment. that decision devastated Harrington, personally and financially.

Nor did anyone from the union, of which Harrington was a board member, show up in court for his arraignment.

“They abandoned him,” a person familiar with his situation said on condition of anonymity to speak freely about the case. “The union made a decision not to help. They [the Harrington family] just wanted them to show support. They wouldn’t. It was disappointing and hurtful.”

So Harrington — a 30-year department veteran from one of the department’s largest and most prominent police families, with eight relatives on the job, two kids in college, a third in a private high school — was left out there alone. He refinanced his house and laid out nearly half a million in legal fees. His lawyer, Andrew J. Weinstein, doesn’t come cheap.

Referring to the feds and the union, the person familiar with his situation said: “They destroyed his finances and destroyed his reputation. And for what? For nothing.”

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