|Page (1) of 1 - 10/27/11||email article||print page|
NYPD officers charged in ticket corruption probeProsecutor: 16 NYPD officers charged after 3-year ticket corruption investigation
NEW YORK (AP) ' What began nearly three years ago as a low-profile wiretap investigation of a police officer has resulted in criminal charges against 16 officers accused of abusing their authority by helping relatives and friends avoid paying traffic tickets.
The Bronx district attorney's office said in a statement Thursday that an indictment against the officers and five other people will be unsealed Friday following "allegations of police corruption covering a broad spectrum of crimes." No specifics were given, but two people familiar with the case said the charges are related to fixing tickets. The people spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the allegations hadn't been made public.
The New York Police Department's chief spokesman, Paul Browne, and union officials declined to comment Thursday.
The case doesn't appear to rise to the level of more notorious corruption scandals in the nation's largest police department. But in terms of the number of officers facing criminal or internal administrative charges, the probe represents the largest crackdown on police accused of misconduct in recent memory.
The charges against 13 police officers, two sergeants and one lieutenant ' including delegates with the department's largest and most powerful union, the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association ' are the latest in a spate of corruption allegations against NYPD officers.
Earlier this week, federal prosecutors in Manhattan brought conspiracy and other charges against five current and three former officers alleging they were part of a gun-running ring. In two other recent federal cases, one officer was charged with arresting a black man without cause and using a racial slur to describe him and another was charged with using a law enforcement database to try to trump up charges against an innocent man.
As the ticket-fixing investigation unfolded, union officials complained that it unfairly singled out officers for an unofficial practice ' undoing paperwork on traffic citations before they reach court ' that has been tolerated for years.
"This issue could have and should have been addressed differently," PBA President Patrick Lynch has said.
The case evolved from a 2009 internal affairs probe of a Bronx officer suspected of associating with a drug dealer, officials said. While listening to the officer's phone, investigators heard calls from people seeing if he could fix tickets for them, they said.
That led to more wiretaps that produced evidence of additional officers having similar conversations.
An unrelated drunken-driving case in the Bronx provided a window into the secret probe when prosecutors were forced to disclose to the defense that the arresting officer was among those recorded talking about ticket fixing.
According to a transcript of the tape, a union delegate tells an officer, "I'll get this taken care of" by having a ticket issued to a girlfriend of the officer's cousin pulled the next day.
Aside from those officers charged criminally, dozens more could face internal charges. In one disciplinary case already decided earlier this year, a former PBA financial secretary in the Bronx admitted administrative misconduct charges and was docked 40 days of vacation and suspended for five days.
Last fall, the NYPD, which has about 35,000 officers, installed new computer system that tracks tickets and makes it much more difficult to tamper with the paper trail.
Commissioner Raymond Kelly recently formed a new unit within internal affairs to look into ticket fixing. Its officers sit in on traffic court testimony and comb through paperwork to ensure none of the methods is being wrongly employed.
The last serious corruption scandal for the NYPD was the so-called Dirty 30 case from the early 1990s. More than 33 officers from Harlem's 30th Precinct were implicated in the probe, with most pleading guilty to charges including stealing cash from drug dealers, taking bribes, beating suspects and lying under oath to cover their tracks.
Related Keywords:NYPD--Ticket Fixing,Criminal investigations,Drug-related crime,Court citations,Crime,Law and order,General news,Police,Law enforcement agencies,Government and politics