05 Dec 2011

Sabotaging the Ticket-Fixing Case?

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Sabotaging the Ticket-Fixing Case?

Len Levitt
Posted 12/05/11 10:58AM ET

Is Police Commissioner Ray Kelly deliberately trying to sabotage the Bronx district attorney’s ticket-fixing case against 16 police officers?

How else to interpret Kelly’s decision to bring NYPD administrative charges against the lead Internal Affairs detective who had developed the corruption case that has implicated hundreds of officers, embarrassed the police department and steamed up the cop union, the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association?

Kelly reportedly even rebuffed the entreaties of Assistant Bronx District Attorney Tom Leahy who last week personally urged police officials not to lodge those administrative charges, which could jeopardize the criminal cases against the officers accused of making tickets disappear for family, friends and VIPs.

Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson has not denied that Leahy went to Internal Affairs officials in a futile attempt to stop the NYPD from charging IAB Detective Randy Katakofsky. Through his spokesman, Johnson issued the following statement: “We will not confirm, deny or discuss any issue involving this case… We are prepared to address all relevant issues in court.”

Just a day or two after Leahy’s visit, the department charged Katakofsky with conducting an unauthorized “integrity test” of a female lieutenant.

In this so-called integrity test, Katakofsky allegedly leaked false information about the ticket-fixing investigation to former IAB lieutenant, Jennara Everleth-Cobb.

Katakofsky allegedly believed she would then give the information to PBA officials investigation under investigation for fixing tickets. His suspicions may have proved right. Bronx prosecutors charged Everleth-Cobb with leaking confidential information.

Charging Katakofsky infuriated his attorney Rae Koshetz, a former deputy police commissioner of trials. She appeared to speak for many when she accused the department of “trying to hurt the detective” who helped bring the ticket-fixing scandal to light.

“It’s about abusing your power to punish someone who uncovers information they didn’t want to hear,” Koshetz said.

Charging Katakfsky also made PBA President Patrick Lynch the happiest guy in town. Lynch stated that Katakofsky should also be charged criminally. What better way to harm the criminal cases against his members [including some of the union leadership] than to impugn the integrity of the lead detective?

Charging Katakofsky is a further embarrassment for the department’s Internal Affairs Bureau, which under Kelly continues to miss major pockets of NYPD corruption.

In addition to the age-old ticket-fixing, IAB also missed these recent scandals: the seven cops recently convicted of planting drugs on people in Brooklyn to meet arrest quotas; the eight current and former cops currently under indictment for allegedly smuggling guns into the state; and the three cops convicted of the $1 million New Jersey perfume factory robbery, whose ringleader was once a member of a top-secret anti-terrorist unit.

All these corruption cases were brought by the feds and other law enforcement entities — not by IAB.

IAB’s failures are also an embarrassment for Kelly, who took no action to stop ticket-fixing until the investigation became public.

Recently there have been calls for an outside monitor to investigate the police department, as Kelly is increasingly perceived as unable to control N YPD corruption.

God only knows what will happen next in the ticket-fixing case. Kelly is big into scapegoats. Perhaps the department will charge IAB Chief Charles Campisi with failing to supervise Katakofsky.

Police sources have added a new wrinkle to Katakofsky’s actions against Evereth-Cobb, saying that his true intentions in compromising her were romantic, stemming from her having rebuffed his earlier advances.

As one cop put it, “Randy was less interested in the courtroom than the bedroom.” One source described Katakofsky as a “love-sick young cop” with a “schoolboy crush” on Evereth-Cobb, whose subsequent tactics were unknown to both Kelly and Johnson.

“It’s turning into a case of Fatal Attraction,” said the source. “In the movie Glen Close boiled the family bunny. In this case, Romantic Randy has put Rob Johnson and Ray Kelly in the pot and the water is just starting to boil.”

RAY’S SO CRUEL. Commissioner Kelly’s crack about the lack of security at Columbia University after he was heckled at former Mayor David Dinkins’ class appeared to be a dig at the school’s vice president for public safety, James F. McShane, a former NYPD chief and Kelly confidant.

When students heckled Kelly about police tactics in the Occupy Wall Street evictions, Kelly, according to news accounts, leaned over to Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, also a guest, and stage-whispered, “Says something about the security of this school, don’t you think?” Perhaps Kelly made his remark as a joke. Law enforcement officials inside and outside the NYPD weren’t laughing.

Said a former top departmental official: “There was never a physical threat against him. What was he [McShane] supposed to do? Put duct-tape over the kid’s mouth?”

Like many top police officials who considered themselves close to Kelly, McShane’s relationship with the commissioner became a tortured one — and ended badly.

During Kelly’s first go-round as NYPD commissioner under Dinkins in 1992-93, McShane was in Kelly’s inner circle, serving as his legal adviser.

His office was literally next to Kelly’s on the 14th floor, along with civilians Paul Browne and Michael Farrell, both of whom are now Deputy Commissioners.

When Mayor Rudy Giuliani succeeded Dinkins and replaced Kelly with Bill Bratton, McShane declined Bratton’s offer to remain legal adviser.

In another display of loyalty to Kelly, McShane organized one of Kelly’s farewell parties, a cocktail reception for 100 people at the penthouse of the Stanhope Hotel. When in 1994 President Bill Clinton sent Kelly to Haiti in a peace-keeping role, McShane stated publicly that if asked, he would join him.

Meanwhile, McShane became the commanding officer of the 47th precinct in the Bronx and made his adjustment to the new regime. He was close to John Timoney, then chief of department, and was considered a rising star. When Timoney became first deputy commissioner, he brought McShane back to police headquarters to run his office.

Then, events sidetracked McShane’s career. When Giuliani forced out Bratton after just two years and selected Howard Safir to succeed him, Timoney, in a moment of impolitic clarity, called Safir a “lightweight,” and promptly retired, angered at having been passed over for the top job.

McShane organized Timoney’s farewell dinner at the Hilton hotel.

That finished McShane with the Giuliani crowd. Safir transferred him to the Traffic Division, where he languished for the next four years.

When Kelly returned as commissioner in 2002, McShane’s star appeared to rise again. Kelly immediately promoted him, as he did Mike Scagnelli who had also been in the Giuliani doghouse after feuding with the lieutenant in charge of the mayor’s City Hall detail. [Scagenlli had spent the last three years, hiding out in the rear office of the Chief of Detectives.]

It soon became apparent that these two promotions were Kelly’s way of getting back at Saifr and Giuliani.

It also became apparent that Kelly had never forgiven Giuliani for firing him. Nor had he forgiven Bratton for taking his job [and succeeding at it].

It also seemed that Kelly considered it disloyal for many in the top ranks to have remained in the NYPD after he had been fired.

“He perceives that the entire P.D. turned its back on him,” said one of those officers. “He holds everyone who stayed responsible.”

Since returning as commissioner, he has taken vengeance on some of them, by secretly sub-marining their job opportunities outside the NYPD. One of those he has tried to hurt is Joe Dunne, first deputy commissioner under Safir. [More on that subject in future.]

Despite promoting him, Kelly kept McShane in Traffic for the next year. When McShane retired in 2004, Kelly appeared at his retirement dinner for about 30 seconds.

Scagnelli didn’t fare any better. The two also parted badly. When he retired, Kelly appeared at his retirement dinner for maybe 45 seconds.

Mr. Levitt great article as always, but one question. Who was supervising Detective Katakofsky? As micromanaging as the NYPD is, find it difficult to believe that this IAB detective was on some rogue mission conducting a major investigation without being accountable to any police supervisor. If this is not further evidence that an outside city agency (i.e., NYC Department of Investigation) should be responsible for investigating allegations of corruption and serious misconduct against the police department, then do not know what it is going to take.