One Police Plaza

Maryland Troubles Have NY Link

November 24, 2003

New York City and Baltimore may not exactly be sister cities, but the troubles of former Baltimore Police Commissioner Ed Norris centers on his New York connections.

Norris was the NYPD's deputy commissioner for crime control strategies under former commissioner Howard Safir, succeeding the late, great Jack Maple. Norris retired in 2000 and was selected as Baltimore's police commissioner after Maple and John Miller, the spokesman for former commissioner Bill Bratton, reportedly lobbied Baltimore's Mayor Martin O'Malley.

Norris brought down some of his NYPD buddies, one of whom was retired Deputy Insp. John Stendrini, who became his chief of staff. He hooked up with a Baltimore cop and New York City native, Tom Tobin, who became his driver.

Then Norris stumbled upon an off-the-books slush fund that had evolved from a Depression-era charity to help needy police officers, and he allegedly used it for personal perks, including trips to New York, overnight hotel stays and dinners at the Smith & Wollensky steak house in the 17th Precinct, where Norris had been the squad commander of detectives.

He allegedly used Tobin, who as his driver was paid more than $80,000 a year in overtime on top of his $58,000 salary, as a conduit for the money.

Last week, the Baltimore Sun reported that Norris' father, Ed Norris Sr., a retired NYPD captain and more recently the chief of staff to Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum, has been subpoenaed to testify before a federal grand jury in Baltimore about the circumstances of the down payment for his son's Baltimore home.

Ed Norris Sr. made the $10,950 down payment, allegedly after his son received a check for that amount from Tobin and then turned it over to him.

The Sun also reported that a local TV reporter, Katie Leahan, was subpoenaed to testify and that a spokesman for her station said the subject was a "private matter" unrelated to work.

Make of that what you will.

As for Tobin, sources in New York say he loaned money to Norris that was never repaid. Tobin is now cooperating with the feds.

The younger Norris left the Baltimore police commissioner's job in December. He is now superintendent of the Maryland State Police. He was succeeded as Baltimore police commissioner by another former top NYPD commander, Kevin Clark.

Neither Norris nor Stendrini, whom Norris brought with him to the Maryland State Police, returned phone messages left last week by Newsday. Norris' father, who left the public advocate's office earlier this year, could not be reached for comment.

NYPD at MTA. Here, for better or worse, is the security lineup over at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which since Sept. 11, 2001, has hired four top NYPD chiefs.

First came Louis Anemone, the NYPD's former chief of department and highest uniformed officer, who became the MTA's director of security. He brought with him his long-time NYPD sidekick, former Det. Nick Casale.

The two didn't last long. Casale convinced Anemone that a confidential source could help ferret out corruption in the agency, which wasn't exactly true. After Casale gave a misleading story to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown and Anemone sold Casale's story to the media without informing his bosses, the two were toast.

Earlier this year, Anemone - now a consultant for Bratton, who is chief of the Los Angeles Police Department - was succeeded by former NYPD Chief of Patrol Bill Morange, whom police commissioner Ray Kelly transferred last year to head the Organized Crime Control Bureau. Morange's deputy is former NYPD Deputy Chief Ray McDermott, who had retired with a line-of-duty disability.

(How one can be deemed unable to work as a police officer at the NYPD and then collect a lucrative tax-free disability pension while at the same time earning a six-figure salary performing administrative duties at the MTA is the subject of another column.)

Morange and McDermott will soon be joined by NYPD Assistant Chief Jim Lawless as the MTA's chief of police. Two years ago, Lawless received what an official described as a "very strong" letter of reprimand for failing to censure his favorite lieutenant, Thomas Gray, after two female officers, Sgt. Anita Ryan and Det. Cheryl Schiefer, filed a $30-million sexual harassment suit against Gray and Lawless.

So far as is known, the MTA is not in Gray's future.

Now for last week's question: Had Morange not been transferred as chief of patrol, would he have stayed at the NYPD? The answer is yes.

Horse Story (Continued). The Police Department has begun an investigation into the Mounted Unit, following a report in Newsday that the deaths of two horses from colic may have been precipitated by poor feeding and care. Sources say the investigation is focused not on whether Newsday's report was correct but on who leaked the information.

©2003 Newsday, Inc.Reprinted with permission.