One Police Plaza

FBI Criteria: You Must Play With Ray

November 17, 2008

It’s official, as it was inevitable. Mark Mershon, the decent but hapless head of the FBI’s New York office — who for the past three years Police Commissioner Ray Kelly ran rings around — is retiring.

What is not official is the impending — and unprecedented — appointment of his successor, Joe Demarest, who left the Bureau earlier this year, apparently so anxious to depart that he forfeited a chunk of his pension.

Previously the head of the New York office’s counter-terrorism division, the lean, high-strung, six-foot-tall Demarest who resembles a Delta Force guy with his close-cropped hair, had succeeded in one of the Bureau’s most vital jobs. He oversaw top secret investigations and ran the Joint Terrorism Task Force [JTTF] of 350 or so FBI agents and NYPD detectives.

FBI Director Robert Mueller valued Demarest so highly he was promoted to a top secret project in Washington. Many viewed him as the odds-on favorite to succeed Mershon.

Instead, last February at the age of 48 — 15 months shy of turning 50 and becoming eligible for a full pension — Demarest resigned to join the Wall Street firm of Goldman Sachs. With Wall Street’s meltdown, that job has probably lost some of its appeal.

But why bring Demarest back to one of the bureau’s plum positions when there are plenty of top agents still working for the Bureau?

The most important reason, it appears, is that Demarest is one of the few people in the FBI (or anywhere else in law enforcement) who can get along with Kelly. The Bureau is apparently banking on Bloomberg III keeping Kelly as commissioner.

Demarest is also one of the few people in the FBI who works well with top officials in the NYPD’s Intelligence Division and the Counter-Terrorism Bureau.

Working well with Kelly and the NYPD seems to be the criteria for a successful Bureau tenure in New York these days.

Back in 2004 when Kelly hogged the terrorism spotlight and publicly lambasted the Bureau at every opportunity, Mueller brought in terror expert Pat D’Amuro to, as a source put it, “rein Kelly in.”

That summer, D’Amuro accused Kelly of creating “security concerns” after Kelly publicly praised and identified an NYPD detective who had helped arrest radical Muslim cleric Abu Hamsa Al Masri in the UK. Kelly singled out the detective, ignoring the role of FBI agents who were also in on the arrest and prompting the detective’s premature return from London after reporters showed up at his home on Long Island, frightening his wife.

A year later, the FBI’s line on Kelly changed. D’Amuro retired, joining Giuliani Partners. He was succeeded by Mershon, who stated that getting along with Kelly was his first priority.

Instead, Mershon became Kelly’s patsy. Said an FBI official: “After three years, Mershon realized that Kelly was not his friend, that Kelly’s first concern was Kelly.”

Case in point: last March’s bombing of the Times Square military recruiting station. Despite Kelly’s statement that the investigation would be conducted by the JTTF, the NYPD, has, so far as is known, not yet turned over the bicycle it found in a nearby dumpster to the FBI for lab analysis.

FBI spokesman Jim Margolin confirmed Mershon’s departure but refused to confirm Demarest’s appointment. Demarest didn’t return a call last week at Goldman’s.

No Story Here. [Con’t]
That’s what Judge Richard Brown told Your Humble Servant last week when asked about his recent hiring of retired police lieutenant Pete Martin for his Queens DA Squad.

Brown added that Pete, who retired earlier this year, was not getting paid but working as a volunteer.

Well guess what? Turns out Pete is getting paid. Brown’s top assistant Jack Ryan explained the discrepancy by saying that maybe he hadn’t properly apprised the judge of Pete’s status.

Ryan says he helped Pete obtain what is known as a 211 waiver, which identifies Pete as having the unique skills and qualifications that allow him to receive his police pension while working for the D.A.

In another example of Mayor Mike’s enfranchising Police Commissioner Kelly with citywide governmental power, Kelly has put a stranglehold on virtually all 211 police waivers so that cops remain in the department.

Ryan says Kelly had no reason to block Pete’s waiver because he aged out, retiring after a 40-year career at the mandatory age of 63.

Whatever unique skills and qualifications the 211 waiver claims for Pete were not on display in the department’s Public Information Office, where Pete spent his last resting years at One Police Plaza. A longtime headquarters delegate for the politically influential Lieutenants’ Benevolent Association, he is perhaps best known as the world record holder of negative postings on The Rant, the rank-and-file’s occasionally insightful outlet of perpetual griping.

At DCPI, Pete remained largely out of sight to reporters while making some interesting behind-the-scenes moves to secure a lucrative line-of-duty disability pension for his boss, Assistant Chief Mike Collins. Pete was the sole witness to Collins’ trip-and-fall at 1 A.M. at 8th Avenue and 34th Street during the 2004 Republican National Convention.

Four years earlier while working together at Manhattan Detectives, he and Collins both filed for LOD disabilities after their department car was rear-ended on 55th Street. (In the interests of full disclosure, Big Mike is believed to have legitimate LOD issues apart from these two incidents, neither of which resulted in his obtaining a disability pension.)

As for Pete, he is expected to obtain his disability pension for an injury that one can only imagine. Ryan says he’s been medically approved and only awaits approval by the city’s pension board.

Ryan adds that when Pete receives that pension, the DA will no longer pay him on the theory that a disabled pensioner presumably is unable to work.

“He asked to stay on as a volunteer,” says Ryan. “He loves what he does and he is doing a great job.”

Sins of the Great Grandfather
. In an angry e-mail and mellower phone conversation, longtime Civilian Complaint Review Board member William F. Kuntz II denied that “personal animus” affected his actions in the “racism” brouhaha surrounding the CCRB’s executive director Joan Thompson.

An often outspoken member of a board that too frequently has buckled under pressure from the police department, Kuntz acknowledged passing along Thompson’s complaint, in which she threatened to sue the CCRB, to the City Council, where it became public.

Thompson — whom Kuntz described as a “62-year-old churchgoing woman who is just very nice” — alleged that two white subordinates had called her a “black bitch” and that her complaints to the CCRB’s white chairwoman Franklin Stone were met by dismissive screaming.

Kuntz said he acted only after two other board members had put on the record that Stone subsequently demanded that Thompson’s job performance be “evaluated.” An evaluation of the CCRB’s executive director, said Kuntz, was “unprecedented.”

“Joan hires a lawyer who serves notice on the commissioners,” Kuntz said, explaining why he contacted the City Council. “What am I supposed to do as council designate? I had no choice.”

As for Stone, the last sentence of Kuntz’s e-mail says: “I am the African-American grandson of a New York City police officer. Ms. Franklin Stone is the Caucasian granddaughter of the segregationist governor of South Carolina. Perhaps we have a different view of racist and sexist behavior in the year 2008 … New York is not South Carolina.”

Actually, it was Stone’s great-grandfather, Wilson Godfrey Harvey, who was governor of South Carolina.

Through her spokesman, Stone said, “Comments like this do not merit a response.”