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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Scores of NYPD cops face charges in probe

     

    Scores of NYPD officers, including some high-ranking ones, face criminal or departmental disciplinary charges in a ticket-fixing probe, according to attorneys and law enforcement officials familiar with the investigation.

    A grand jury in the Bronx, which has been looking into allegations that officers fixed traffic and parking tickets for friends, relatives and politically connected people, likely will begin issuing indictments in two to four weeks, said defense attorneys representing some of the targeted officers.

    The attorneys, none of whom wanted to be identified because of the sensitivity of the inquiry, said about 25 officers, including some sergeants and a deputy inspector, are facing criminal charges, while another 200 might face departmental charges for violations of police procedures. One of the attorneys said the criminal cases are expected to involve felony bribery and obstruction of governmental administration, which is a misdemeanor.

    “”It’s always a cause for concern,”” City Council public safety chairman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria) said of the allegations.

    Edward Mullin, head of the Sergeants Benevolent Association, said in a recent statement that as many as 400 cops were suspected of tampering with traffic tickets. But Mullin said it was “”ludicrous”” to probe the practice of “”extending courtesies by hardworking rank-and-file police officers.””

    Ticket fixing has long been the bane of New York governments, leading to city and state scandals going back to the 1950s when state investigators found that Suffolk County was plagued by it.

    “”This is no secret, nor has it ever been a secret,”” said Mullin in the statement, adding that in his police career, elected officials, judges, athletes and clergy had approached him to take care of tickets.

    Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson has been closemouthed about the probe, which legal sources said was spawned by a wiretap in a drug investigation, and wouldn’t confirm or deny he had an investigation under way.

    But one high-ranking law enforcement official said Tuesday that the ticket-fixing case grew out of a 2008 probe of possible police involvement with Bronx drug dealers. By mid-2009, wiretapped conversations reviewed by NYPD police internal affairs investigators indicated ticket fixing and referred the evidence to Johnson, the official said.

    The substance of some of those taped conversations turned up in a routine driving while intoxicated case being defended by Hempstead attorney Steven Epstein. Tuesday, Epstein said the officer who arrested his client testified at a hearing in the case that she spoke to a Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association delegate to take care of tickets for herself and relatives. PBA officials wouldn’t comment about the investigation. NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly last week said officers aren’t supposed to do favors. Kelly would not comment Tuesday.

    Some experts are concerned the current probe could grow.

    “”Once they get started, they don’t necessarily end with ticket fixing,”” said police historian and author Thomas Reppetto.

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