One Police Plaza

Trying to solve this mystery

August 16, 1999

The mayoral panel that serves as Rudy Giuliani's answer to an outside police corruption monitor agreed last week to your humble servant's request to investigate the mystery of ex-cop Jay Creditor.

Perhaps now the panel, known as the "Commission to Combat Police Corruption," can learn why Police Commissioner Howard Safir and his former First Deputy Tosano Simonetti reversed the department's Deputy Commissioner of Trials Rae Koshetz, who recommended dismissing Creditor on March 7, 1997, for missing more than 200 hours of work over a six-month period.

Instead, that evening, the department allowed Creditor, a Patrolmen's Benevolent Association delegate in the 110th Precinct in Elmhurst, to pay an unprecedented $50,000 fine to keep his job. He then retired and appeared the following week before the police pension board, which granted him a tax-free disability pension - lifetime worth: $1.4 million.

Perhaps the corruption panel can also divine which of Safir's contradictory explanations about his role in the matter is the truth. His first explanation, at a news briefing at One Police Plaza on Dec. 6, 1997, was that Simonetti, not he, had reinstated Creditor. At another news briefing on Dec. 19, when presented with an official police document, noting his "APPROVAL" of Creditor's reinstatement, Safir said he had a "recollection" of telling Koshetz to negotiate the case.

What makes this more bewildering is a memo that Assistant Deputy Commissioner Kevin Lubin sent to Simonetti on March 10, 1997, three days after Creditor's dismissal, asserting that Safir had reviewed the case. Safir's signature, however, cannot be found on any document because between March 7 and March 10 he was at New York University Medical Center undergoing double-bypass surgery. Instead, the Creditor documents were signed by Simonetti, who retired from the department a month later with his own tax-free, line-of-duty disability - estimated value: $120,000 annually.

Now the security director for the billionaire Ronald Perelman at a six-figure salary, as well as a member of the Civilian Complaint Review Board and the mayor's Charter Revision Committee, Simonetti refuses to discuss the Creditor case. When he is asked about it, he literally runs away.

When asked in 1997 about his role, Safir claimed he was prevented from discussing the case because Creditor's father was suing the city for $50 million, claiming the department had violated his son's rights by forcing him to to pay the $50,000 to secure his disability pension. That suit has been dropped. Safir now says he'll cooperate with the mayoral panel, provided the investigation is "within its mandate."

The panel's head, Richard Davis, said last week he was obtaining the relevant documents.

Stepping Aside. It looks like attorney Ed Hayes will not become the Richie Hartman of the new PBA.

Hayes, a backer of newly elected union president Pat Lynch, had just taken over as general counsel when a federal appeals court hit him last week with a $1.35-million defalcation judgment in his role as counsel to the Andy Warhol estate. Hayes defines defalcation as "breach of duty." Webster's calls it "embezzlement."

However you define it, Hayes says he's stepping aside as PBA counsel to avoid the appearance of impropriety. "Lynch's job is tough enough without this," he said. Lynch could not be reached for comment last week.

Hartman was, of course, the eminence grise behind Phil Caruso, Lynch's predecessor twice removed. After gambling away hundreds of thousands of dollars in PBA escrow funds, he sold his practice to Jim Lysaght and Peter Kramer. The three are in federal prison on bribery and extortion convictions involving the transit union PBA.

"The difference between those guys and me," Hayes says, "is that they didn't step aside. I did."

Mr. COMPSTAT. John Jay College Prof. Eli Silverman was provided with unlimited access to the departments's ballyhooed COMPSTAT meetings and his recent book on the NYPD's crime-fighting success cites COMPSTAT as the major reason for it. Just in case you've been on a desert island for the past five years, COMPSTAT (for computer statistics) is the program initiated by former commissioner Bill Bratton, in which department commanders are grilled (and humiliated) by the top brass about their crime-fighting strategies.

One person not fully enamored with Silverman's book, however, is Bratton. The reason: Silverman says that Civilian Complaint Review Board and Internal Affairs-type issues were first tracked at COMPSTAT meetings by Bratton's successor, Howard Safir. That, says Bratton, is not true. "We started doing it in 1994 or 1995 when I was commissioner," he says.

Bratton says he and Silverman will discuss changes he says Silverman has agreed to make in his next edition. Says Silverman: "I know he has concerns. I haven't settled yet on what I'm redoing."

©1999 Newsday, Inc.Reprinted with permission.