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The Blue Wall: Corruption Charges in NYC
Copyright: 9-1-1 Magazine, Feature Content
Perspective by John Christopher Fine
They are sworn to uphold the law. When they go wrong there is nobody to stop them. That there are corrupt cops is not surprising. That their criminal conduct is condoned, even applauded, by other police officers is appalling.
A continuing scandal in the New York Police Department under Commissioner Ray Kelly has sparked protests by tough looking cops rallying around the courthouse to support Officer Joe Ramos, a 17-year veteran of the NYPD. Ramos was indicted for making a heroin buy and delivering it while on duty in his patrol car. Ramos is also charged with stealing $50,000 from a police undercover operative that posed as a drug dealer and for revealing an informant’s identity.
Sixteen NYPD officers were indicted on charges that they used the law they were sworn to uphold for their own purposes. Police Lieutenant Jennara Everleth-Cobb was reported to have leaked information about the investigation to a Police Benevolent Association (PBA) official and other cops. Wiretaps issued by the court, revealed in the indictments in Bronx Supreme Court, quoted Lt. Jennara Everleth-Cobb saying “Be careful when you’re on the phone. They’re listening.”
Jose Ramos is quoted on the wires saying “I stopped caring about the law a long time ago…I could drive a dead body in the trunk of my car where I want to and nobody would stop me.”
Officer Christopher Scott was recorded saying to other cops in an assault cover-up fix, “We don’t know who did this, ok? We’re going to make this go away for him.” Another NYPD officer, Jamie Pagan, fixed a relative’s ticket and was recorded saying, “Whatever you need, you tell me and I’ll take care of it. You won’t get no f… hassle. It will be like it never happened.” Pagan is a PBA Delegate.
That these NYPD officers were caught is a wonder in and of itself. That many of them were involved as officers with the PBA is a disgrace to police officers everywhere. PBA Trustee Brian McGuckin was charged with 2 counts of forgery, 2 counts criminal possession of a forged instrument, 62 counts of official misconduct and more. PBA Trustee Joseph Anthony was charged with 1 count tampering with a public record, 10 counts of grand larceny, 44 counts of official misconduct and more. PBA Trustee Michael Hernandez was charged with 1 count tampering with public records, 22 counts of grand larceny, 48 counts of official misconduct and more. PBA Delegate Luis Rodriguez was charged with 17 counts of grand larceny, 40 counts official misconduct, 19 counts of conspiracy and more.
Surprising? No. Not in the NYPD where corruption scandals reached even the top echelons of administration. A recent Commissioner was proposed for a U.S. cabinet position in Homeland Security until his misconduct was revealed.
What is menacing to society is the fact that PBA union delegates and officers were arrested and indicted for serious crimes and that 500 other officers and their PBA union rallied to their support outside the courthouse where they were arraigned on the charges.
The signal is very clear. Corruption of the most evil sort, proved by taped recordings, with the worst motives and language, is condoned. It is approved. Police officers waved placards that proclaimed “NYPD Culture, Not A Crime.” And, “Just Following Orders.” The arrests and protesters ran the gamut of NYPD population: women, men, blacks, Hispanics, Irish descendants, veterans and younger officers.
That the NYPD is disgraced and shamed by the arrests pales in comparison to the boldness of the ostensible cover-up and approval by their peers. That this NYPD scandal existed at all is a direct result of defective management. Some ranking police officers seek ambitious goals beyond their status. That they receive publicity in connection with their appearances on television helps them along in their egotistical agendas. When a commissioner is on watch and a scandal of major proportions happens, it is time to put aside personal goals and take responsibility for the massive corruption that could only take place through bad management.
Laughing and sneering NYPD officers boasted their support for these crooked cops with placards reading “It’s been going on since the days of the Egyptians. Mayor Mike Bloomberg.” The mayor of the City of New York’s comments about a major summons fixing probe is approbation. Corruption, brutality and misconduct cannot exist in any police department unless it is countenanced by other officers and an equally corrupt political structure.
John Christopher Fine served as senior Assistant District Attorney in New York County’s Rackets Bureau where he investigated and prosecuted matters involving official corruption and organized crime. He served as head of the Organized Crime Task Force and was Special Counsel to a U.S. Senate investigating committee. He continues as a consultant to government for matters involving official corruption and organized crime.