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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

All Corruption Explained: No Corruption, Just a Simple Courtesy

Police Union Fights Back Against an Inquiry, Calling Ticket-Fixing a Courtesy
The New York Times by AL BAKER and JOSEPH GOLDSTEIN - April 19, 2011

As scores of police officers, supervisors and union officials are investigated for fixing tickets in the Bronx, the Sergeants Benevolent Association — the powerful union for the Police Department’s 12,000 front-line supervisors — has started a campaign arguing that the practice, while widespread, is one of courtesy, not corruption. Edward D. Mullins, the president of the sergeants’ union, has recorded an audio message calling on current and retired members of the force, across all ranks, to come forward with testimonials about the beneficiaries of ticket-fixing. He said he expected to find evidence that politicians, prosecutors, clergy members, business leaders, celebrities, athletes and others have been among those who have had tickets fixed, often with the help of top police officials. The move is a striking public frontal assault on the investigation by the union, even though the inquiry itself has never been officially acknowledged by law enforcement officials, and no charges have been filed. Mr. Mullins said in an interview that his aim was to highlight a culture of courtesy that had been the norm since the inception of the summons. But it could also serve to embarrass or even implicate public officials or others who have asked police officers to do them a little favor and make a ticket go away. “For nearly two months, members of the N.Y.P.D. have been attacked by the media and placed under public scrutiny for allegations of tampering with tickets,” Mr. Mullins says in the message, according to a transcript that a spokesman said would be posted on the union Web site Tuesday night. Mr. Mullins goes on: “However, the portrayal of some members of the department being involved in a major corruption ring of ticket-fixing for favors to which labor organizations discreetly approve is ludicrous.” Since the whiff of the ticket-fixing scandal emerged on a wiretap in a separate police corruption inquiry last year, the Internal Affairs Bureau and the office of the Bronx district attorney, Robert T. Johnson, have interviewed dozens of officers, set up layers of surveillance and identified several high-profile targets, according to several people with direct knowledge of the case. Though the inquiry is centered on the Bronx, according to one law enforcement official, it could spread to other boroughs. Roughly two dozen officers could face criminal charges and hundreds more could face internal administrative sanctions, officials have said.

Steven Reed, a spokesman for the district attorney’s office, had no comment on the sergeants’ union’s characterization of the investigation as a witch hunt against rank-and-file officers. “They can put out whatever statement they want,” Mr. Reed said. “We have neither confirmed nor denied any investigation.” Mr. Mullins’s message is about three-and-a-half minutes long, according to Robert E. Mladinich, a union spokesman said. Mr. Mladinich said the sergeants’ union did not check with other unions about the campaign. Mr. Mullins, in claiming that the ticket-fixing did not qualify as corruption, said he had never heard of an officer’s taking a bribe in exchange for fixing a ticket. He said it might be time to change the department’s culture, but argued against any move to criminalize its longstanding behavior. In addition, Mr. Mullins said that requests to make tickets disappear often came from high places, and that in some cases, officers were just trying to please senior commanders. “These phone calls were as much a part of the culture of the department as arresting criminals,” he said. Mr. Mullins cited a news account to raise a question about whether the department’s longstanding chief of Internal Affairs had participated in the practice by voiding a summons given to the chief surgeon. But Paul J. Browne, the department’s chief spokesman, said that the chief, Charles V. Campisi, never voided a ticket for the surgeon. “Under I.A.B.’s program of placard enforcement, a vehicle assigned to the chief surgeon was summonsed and towed, and the chief surgeon paid the fine,” Mr. Browne said. Because of their connections across precincts in the city, police union delegates have long been the go-to people for officers seeking to have tickets fixed. Now, several union leaders have expressed outrage that they will take the brunt of disciplinary action for a practice that they characterize as departmentwide. Some lawyers described the fixing of tickets as criminal if it involved the destruction or obfuscation of government records. To some officers, ticket-fixing has always seemed risky. One supervisor — who insisted on anonymity because of not being authorized to speak publicly on the matter — recalled a time more than a decade ago when, in seeking to erase a summons, a colleague in the highway unit took offense, and Internal Affairs investigated. “I tried it once, and I got burned,” the supervisor said. “When I told people my story after, they said, ‘Well, you should have gone to the delegate,’ but to me, I was like, ‘I am never doing that again.’ ”


can't stop laughing said...

I will never say my judge was corrupt again. I will only say he was extending a courtesy to the lawyers who gave him money. Thanks for the explanation, my apologies to the judge.

Anonymous said...

Corruption...courtesy...crimes....the next time a robed judge grabs my butt or whispers how many times he loves hearing about blow jobs from attys during the day, I will inform him that I will extend those same "courtesies" he extended and whispered to me, to him....... where it is much more appreciated than in our courtroom ...prison!
Fixing tickets or fixing your clerk are excuses made to control the laws that explicitly do not state that they can be used as an option to evade the printed laws of Government.
Corruption and courtesy are definitely in print, but only as alliterative and definitions and never sectioned with synonymous.

Anonymous said...

This is the same way it's done in the courts, a call, a simple request and a handshake. Just a courtesy to fix those cases.

If they picked this up on a wire-tap, why haven't they picked up the rampant case fixing in the Courts?

They should charge everyone involved with a crime, not just the ones who fixed the tickets, but everyone who asked. Fixing a ticket is a crime, and everyone knows that. That's why they changed the system years ago so this could be stopped.

You won't find that it's the average person who gets this 'courtesy', but the connected ones.

Is this just another case of picking the low-hanging fruit?

Someone commented in the Post, that there should be a FOIL request to find out what tickets were squashed because they are electronic now so that should be fairly easy.

Disgusted said...

There is no NY law, nor NY justice. You wonder why Muslims want Sharia law? What is there to recommend our courts and laws? Is it that the lawyers and judges get rich and the Police and DA's are dishonest?

Anonymous said...

and they use the Police and DA to target anyone they want...that is just a courtesy not corruption!

Anonymous said...

If they picked this up on a wire-tap, why haven't they picked up the rampant case fixing in the Courts?

they would have to shut the courts down, right now, they can use their info to move people around like chess pieces as they choose!
pick a target, bug them, follow them around, watch the trail of corruption and watch the game change!

Anonymous said...

When the going gets tought for the politicians and judges there is always the cops to take a hit to distract from the real problems in the criminal justice system.

When Maurice Nadjari was appointed the Special Prosecutor by Nelson Rockefeller the game plan was to start at the top and work down. In other words - the judges.

Nadjari did pretty well with the judges at trial. His good record took a hit in the appellate courts.

This thing with the PD is just a distraction. Period. Make the suckers think the government is on top of corruption.

Does anyone remember a couple of years ago an Orthodox Jew had a Bar Mitzvah in the Tombs for his child. They opened up the prison, had a catered party and the inmates were the waiters. Bloomberg thought it was a GAS.

Handing out tickets is nothing more than extortion on the part of the City, nothing more. And the suckers like us have to pay for it. Now they have the red light cameras to extort even more money from us.

victim said...

How many Judges and their families got their tickets washed? And I wonder what 'courtesy' the Judges preform for the PD? One hand washes the other, right - that's the way the game in played. Corruption everywhere and no one can find it. What am I missing here?

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