New York – The NYPD has put on modified assignment and transferred four top officials in connection with an investigation into whether officers accepted free trips and other perks from Brooklyn’s Orthodox Jewish communities.
Deputy Chief Michael Harrington had been placed on modified duty and transferred, Deputy Chief David Colon and Deputy Chief Eric Rodriguez had been transferred.
TOT News reported earlier today about the suspension of Deputy Inspector James Grant.
“The potential violations under investigation include violations of NYPD rules and policies, the City conflicts of interest rules and the federal criminal laws,” Police commissioner Bill Bratton stated a press release on Thursday.
“The investigation is examining the conduct of current and former NYPD Officers and several others.”
Calling it “not a particularly good day for the department,” Bratton said in a press conference with the media, that he took the actions after meeting Thursday morning with a team of FBI agents, including Assistant FBI Director Diego Rodriguez, head of the bureau’s New York office.
Bratton also said that he had instructed NYPD’s Deputy Commissioner for Legal Matters Lawrence Byrne to provide additional training to department employees on rules of conflict of interest.
New York State criminal laws make it a crime for a police officer to accept anything of value as a quid-pro-quo or gratuity.
Investigators will have to determine when a gift from a close friend crosses that line, and whether the acceptance of the gift would be criminal or a departmental violation.
Federal authorities are probing three Orthodox Jewish men for fraud and money laundering. Two of them, Jona Rechnitz and Jeremy Reichberg, were involved in a liquor deal that went bad, prompting the investigation.
While probing the men, federal authorities picked up on a wiretap that one of the men, Reichberg, had dealings with high ranking NYPD officers. He is described as a police buff.
A number of the NYPD commanders have been brought before a federal grand jury looking into the Orthodox Jewish men’s actions. They are described to have “fully cooperated” and have been informed they are not the targets or subject of the investigation.
One NYPD officer who was called before the grand jury refused to answer questions, citing his Fifth Amendment right against self incrimination.
That raised the interest of Internal Affairs, and Det. Michael Milici, the 66th Precinct’s community affairs detective, was placed on modified duty.
A federal official said Correction Officers Benevolent Association President Norman Seabrook is being probed for any possible illegal activity in connection with the Orthodox Jewish businessmen.
Seabrook has not been charged with anything.