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Fending Off the Feds

September 17, 2018

Queens District Attorney Richard Brown did not attend the news conference at Police Plaza last week with Police Commissioner Jim O’Neill to announce the indictments of a retired vice squad detective, his wife, seven current NYPD cops and nearly three dozen civilians regarding a gambling and prostitution ring in three counties.

Click here to read what the police brass say about NYPD Confidential“The judge,” as he is known, is 86 years old and doesn’t travel well anymore, but there is nothing wrong with his brain. Together with the police department’s Internal Affairs Bureau, Brown’s office conducted a three-year investigation that led to the shuttering of brothels in Queens, Brooklyn and Nassau County and gambling rooms set up in beauty salons, both of which had earned more than $2 million.

There’s been a long-standing relationship between the Queens DA and the NYPD, including IAB. It’s probably not coincidence that IAB brought its corruption case to Brown rather than to a DA in Brooklyn or Nassau. Since taking over the office some 25 years ago after the precipitous resignation of his predecessor John Santucci, Brown has been known as a police buff, racing to crime scenes and turning up at police-related events.

“There’s always been a trust and a positive relationship,” says a former top cop — not the least of which involves sharing credit. “He wouldn’t try to jump you at the end, like the feds.”

Law enforcement sources say Brown fended off a federal offer of cooperation, which pleased many in the NYPD, in particular in IAB. As the former top cop put it, “When the feds get involved, they take over. Then they announce they’re holding a news conference and cut you out. They mention you in one line, thanking you for your cooperation. You get a sentence. They get 40 paragraphs.”

Click here to read the New York Times profile of Leonard LevittAt best problematic, relations between the NYPD and the feds reached a low point under Ray Kelly, the longest-serving and most powerful police commissioner in city history — and not only, as this column often reported, over credit for fighting terrorism. Fearing terrorism, Kelly also ordered the towing of cars parked in safety hazard areas like bus stops and fire hydrants, whether or not they had police placards in their windshields — a task supervised by IAB.

Says a former IAB official: “And nobody screamed louder about the towing than the feds.”

Where the corruption investigation goes from here nobody is saying, other than O’Neill’s acknowledging it is continuing. It comes at a time when the feds in Manhattan’s Southern District went hot and heavy in a “cops-on-call” bribery investigation of the department’s top brass that, so far at least, has resulted in a guilty plea of only one chief on the flimsiest of charges.

Click here to read the Washington Post article on NYPD ConfidentialThey’ll get another bite at the apple this fall when Deputy Inspector James Grant goes on trial for, among other things, having sex on a private plane with a prostitute, allegedly paid for by wheeler-dealer businessman Jona Rechnitz and Hasidic businessman/fixer Jeremy Reichberg, who, not unlike Judge Brown, has longstanding ties to the department but of a different kind.

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