One Police Plaza

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Sex, Lies, and Michael Mineo

February 1, 2010

Anyone who knows cops knows that, as federal judge Jack B. Weinstein has stated, they lie.

They may not lie from venality as much as from laziness. But lie they do. A lot.

“Informal inquiry by the court and among the judges of this court, as well as knowledge of cases in other federal and state courts, has revealed anecdotal evidence of repeated, widespread falsification by arresting offices of the New York Police Department,” Weinstein recently wrote in a case against the city filed by two brothers whom the police falsely accused of selling cocaine to an undercover.

Three other cops are now on trial in Brooklyn State Supreme Court on the explosive claim of Michael Mineo, a 25-year-old, admitted Crips gang member.

After cops caught him smoking marijuana on Oct. 15, 2008, he says one of them, 26-year-old Richard Kern, sodomized him with a sharp object. Prosecutors charge Mineo was violated with Kern’s retractable police baton while handcuffed on the ground of the Prospect Park subway platform.

Two other officers, Alex Cruz and Andrew Morales, are charged with lying to cover up Kern’s alleged assault. Kern faces 25 years in prison if convicted.

In 2007, New York City paid $50,000 to settle two excessive force lawsuits against Kern. However, the Civilian Complaint Review Board, a body often unfriendly to cops, cleared him of wrongdoing.

At least superficially, the Mineo case resembles the infamous NYPD sodomy that shocked the city more than a decade ago: the 1997 broom-handle torture of Haitian immigrant Abner Louima inside the bathroom of the 70th precinct in Brooklyn by police officer Justin Volpe.

Back then, the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office whiffed on the case, which played out in federal court and became a national symbol of racism, police brutality and cover-up.

But unlike the law-abiding Louima, Mineo has a troubled history and an arrest record pointing to a past as a liar and a thief. His rap sheet includes at least seven drug possession busts and arrests for credit card fraud, identity theft and gang assault.

So far testimony has been inconclusive about whether the sexual assault occurred and whether Cruz and Morales lied to cover it up.

Brooklyn prosecutors say they have the goods to convict, which they plan to deliver this week: crucial DNA evidence and a star witness, Transit Officer Kevin Maloney, who will corroborate Mineo’s claims.

Sounds promising but for one thing — Brooklyn District Attorney Joe Hynes has his own history of dubious claims, if not outright lying.

Consider the case of former FBI agent Lindley DeVecchio, whom Hynes charged with leaking information to the mob, leading to four murders.

In announcing DeVecchio’s indictment, Hynes called the case “the most stunning example of official corruption I have ever seen.”

That claim evaporated 18 months later when it was discovered that his key witness, mob moll Linda Schiro, had given a contradictory version of events to reporters Tom Robbins and Jerry Capeci.

Hynes dropped the case against DeVecchio, saying, “There’s no way we would have brought a prosecution if we had had that information.”

However, just two months before Hynes indicted DeVecchio, a writer had alerted the D.A.’s office about Schiro’s past interviews with Robbins and Capeci.

Hynes’ own detective, Thomas Dades, later told the Daily News that Schiro had also told him about her contradictory version of events.

“So for anyone to say they are surprised now that she had inconsistent stories, they aren’t being truthful,” Dades said.

Judging from the banging of the NYPD band last Wednesday in Police Plaza’s first-floor auditorium, you’d think they were commemorating a monumental event. The only band member missing was Police Commissioner Ray Kelly on his bongos.

Said event was the swearing in of Chief Raphael [Ralph] Pineiro as the NYPD’s first Hispanic First Deputy Commissioner, a position described by the department’s hyperbolic chief rabbi Alvin Kass as “awesome and arduous.”

Pineiro succeeds George Grasso, who served loyally and silently in that position for the past eight years. If Rabbi Kass can explain what Grasso did during that time, let him speak now or forever hold his peace.

Kelly denuded the First Dep’s office by removing its key function: supervising the department disciplinary process. Instead, Kelly appointed a Deputy Commissioner of the Advocate’s Office who now reports directly to him on disciplinary matters.

In a still unexplained move, Kelly — who praised Grasso Wednesday for doing “a tremendous job” — skipped Grasso’s “walkout” the previous Friday.

Was it because Grasso had invited Kelly’s rival and successor in 1994, Bill Bratton, or because Kelly wanted to get an early start on his weekend?

Pineiro, who most recently served as Chief of Personnel, also knows from denuding. When Kelly appointed James Fyfe Director of Training, he gave Fyfe the title of Deputy Commissioner and had him report directly to Kelly, instead of to the Chief of Personnel as was customary. Kelly also formed a separate Bureau of Training under Fyfe, removing the Police Academy from Pineiro’s bailiwick.

And despite his title, everyone at Police Plaza knows who’s the NYPD’s real First Dep: Kelly’s closest aide and general factotum, Deputy Commissioner for Public Information Paul Browne.


Losers —.

bullet President Barack Obama. Let’s see what happens to his plan to try terrorist suspects in civilian courts.

bulletAttorney General Eric Holder. Trying Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in Manhattan was supposedly his idea. He is now running neck and neck with Homeland Security Director Janet Napolitano as the dumbest member of Obama’s administration.

bulletMayor Michael Bloomberg, Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand. They initially all went along with Holder to hold the trial in Manhattan.

Winners —

bulletMayor Michael Bloomberg. At least he appears to be standing up for the city in flip-flopping and now opposing it in NYC.

bulletPolice Commissioner Ray Kelly. Called the “driving force” by the Daily News in changing Bloomberg’s mind by estimating the trial’s cost at a whopping $217 million per annum. Just think, no one has thought to ask Kelly where and how he came up with that figure.


Copyright © 2010 Leonard Levitt