The NYPD’s Tokens of Appreciation
Apr. 8, 2016 (Mimesis Law) — The New York Post broke the news that the FBI is investigating a number of high-ranking New York law enforcement officials for possible corruption. Though the FBI has yet to release a statement, the effects of the probe are apparently already being felt. NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton, who pledged to “cooperate fully” with the FBI at a press conference, subsequently announced that four officers have been stripped of their badges and guns or transferred as a result of the investigation.
In all likelihood, this is only the beginning of the story. Public figures as high-profile as NYC correction union boss Norman Seabrook, last under scrutiny for his alleged role in stonewalling Rikers Island reform, are under FBI investigation.
According to statements made by Bratton at the press conference, the corruption probe began life as an NYPD Internal Affairs investigation in late 2013; the FBI and DoJ only became involved in early 2014. It would appear, however, that the NYPD didn’t go and ask for the FBI’s assistance.
According to the New York Post, the FBI’s interest in the matter developed out of an otherwise unrelated inquiry into possible fraud involving two prominent NYC businessmen and allies of Mayor Bill de Blasio, Jona Rechnitz and Jeremy Reichberg. The two men allegedly tasked a third party with buying a large amount of discounted liquor for them to sell, but the deal fell through and unspecified “investors” lost their money.
Rechnitz and Reichberg’s phones were wiretapped, and the FBI became aware of a number of potentially improper relationships between the businessmen and high-ranking law enforcement officials or their lieutenants. Seabrook and former NYPD Chief of Department Philip Banks are alleged to be the principal contacts.
Banks, who was reportedly a top pick to become police commissioner when he resigned his position with the NYPD in October 31, now appears to have been one of the primary targets of the investigation. The FBI allegedly found him in possession of “hundreds of thousands” in difficult-to-explain money.
Unidentified law enforcement sources told the Post that Rechnitz and Reichberg arranged for their NYPD connections to provide them with police escorts for cash and diamond deliveries, funerals, and even the transport of Torah scrolls, as well as to close down streets on their behalf. The policemen who stepped up to provide security allegedly include Deputy Inspector James Grant, formerly commander of the Upper East Side’s 19th Precinct and one of the two cops to lose their badge and gun Thursday. Crucially, Grant, described as a “Banks loyalist,” is alleged to have accepted money and diamonds from Reichberg in exchange for his services. The NYPD Patrol Guide bars officers from accepting gifts of value.
The other officer to lose his badge and gun, Deputy Housing Chief Michael Harrington, is a former Banks subordinate who was allegedly involved in the cover-up of the December 2008 beating of a taxi driver by 10 drunken NYPD cops.
Rechnitz and Reichberg took Seabrook and Banks on trips to Israel and the Caribbean in 2014; Rechnitz picked up much of the tab. They allegedly gifted similar trips to other officers.
Showing an inexplicable willingness to comment on an investigation concerning him, and to refer to himself in the third person, Seabrook told the Post Monday that he and Banks bought the businessmen an expensive backgammon set to make up for their plane tickets, noting that “there’s nothing the FBI could say Norman did wrong.”