One Police Plaza

Indicted Cop's Party Called Off

December 18, 1995

Police Officer Francis X. Livoti was supposed to have been feted at a fund-raising "racket" last Thursday night.

Livoti, a PBA delegate with 14 past civilian complaints - all but one of them unsubstantiated - was reindicted in the Bronx last week on murder charges stemming from the choking death of 28 year-old Anthony Baez, who died in a fight after a football he threw struck Livoti's patrol car.

The racket was billed as a "10-13" party, which in cop lingo means officer in trouble.

Or to quote the racket's "Cuffs off the Cops" flier, which promised a D.J., dancing and cocktails for a $10 donation at the door: "BRONX COP NEEDS YOUR HELP."

But the racket never happened. The stated reason was that Livoti's four cop sponsors listed on the flier had not obtained the required "ISB" number from the Inspectional Services Bureau. This has been departmental protocol since 1981 when some public morals cops were indicted on corruption charges. Former police commissioner Robert McGuire concluded that any arrested cops should not be feted this way.

Now, all rackets must be approved through the department's Internal Affairs Bureau. "The general rule," says a top police official, "is that if a cop is arrested, we don't approve the 10-13 party, because it looks as though we're taking sides. You can't even put up a flier without permission."

Livoti's 46th precinct buddies, as they were listed in the flier - police officers Biondi, McCaffery, Wasilewski and Heckman - didn't obtain an ISB number before they listed their names and posted the flier, according to department sources. Nor have they explained to anyone where the money will go, as Livoti is represented for free by the PBA's law firm, which is on retainer.

Rumors already abound. One cop says Livoti needs the money because, having been placed on modified assignment, he's been unable to earn any overtime. Another says he plans to hire outside counsel.

But there was another, unstated reason why Livoti's racket didn't come off. After news reports of the racket spread last Thursday, First Deputy Commissioner John Timoney telephoned PBA president Lou Matarazzo, who, with his PBA predecessor Phil Caruso, had accompanied Livoti to Bronx State Supreme Court last week.

Matarazzo denied Timoney ever called. But Timoney's message to Matarazzo was: if the racket is held, Biondi, McCaffery, Wasilewski and Heckman will be suspended.

Diplomacy. Captain Ed Brady, who heads the Queen's District Attorney's office squad, is retiring from the department and will replace John Daly as head of Richard Brown's 40 civilian investigators. Brown says the new spot for Brady - a plum - will help solidify relations with the NYPD. Those relations, which ended in total estrangement with Brown's predecessor John Santucci, have on occasion turned testy even for Brown, although everyone at Police Plaza acknowleges he's turned the office into a first-class operation.

Brown says he's soliciting applicants for Brady's successor, who, as Brady did, must walk a fine line in a job requiring dual loyalty; first to the DA, second to the department. As a top NYPD official explained it, "He works for us, but we expect him to be loyal to the DA without being disloyal to the department, because our interests are not always the same."

Such conflict might arise, says the official, "when you find an assistant district attorney who wants to change our investigative strategy on a case, especially when he's a year and half out of Cornell law school and has watched a lot of NYPD Blue."

Another source of conflict, petty as it may seem, has been Brown's penchant for appearing at virtually every NYPD news conference in Queens. This led to a certain dissonance between him and the department's former Queens Detective Borough Commander Ray Abruzzi, who'd been specifically ordered to attend any and all NYPD news conferences at which Brown appeared. Or, as a department official put it, "Abruzzi didn't take Brown as seriously as Brown takes himself."

Abruzzi was transfered to Brooklyn. Then, in a political message to the district attorney, he was promoted to Assistant Chief.

Crime and Profit. It's not just the foreign media that's enamored of Police Commissioner William Bratton, as the New York Times reported last week. Check out the Dec. 11 issue of Business Week if you want to see true love.

In the article, Bratton does his standard shtick. First, he takes Business Week's reporter to a now-famed Crime Stategy meeting, which reporters at One Police Plaza are forbidden to attend. He then does his routine about how he and Deputy Commissioner Jack [Homburg] Maple have single-handedly reduced crime in New York City and concludes with the remark: "I equate profit with reduced crime."

Why Bratton's financial reference? Friends say he's still angling for a corporate job.

©1995 Newsday, Inc.Reprinted with permission.