Two high-ranking New York Police Department officers were arrested Monday on charges of taking bribes that included $100,000 worth of free flights, prostitutes and expensive meals in exchange for providing a “private police force” for local businessmen.
Deputy Chief Michael Harrington, Deputy Inspector James Grant and Brooklyn businessman Jeremy Reichberg were charged with conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud — the latest development in a series of overlapping public corruption investigations coordinated by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. David Villanueva, an NYPD sergeant assigned to the gun license bureau, was arrested on charges of conspiring to commit bribery.
In exchange for the bribes, Reichberg and others “got a private police force for themselves and their friends,” Bharara said at a news conference. “Effectively, they got ‘cops on call.’”
The four arrests follow months of revelations that have embarrassed the nation’s largest police department and put Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) on the spot about his campaign financing. Reichberg and another businessman who has pleaded guilty in the case contributed heavily to de Blasio’s campaign.
A criminal complaint accompanying the latest charges described how Reichberg exploited his connections within the police department to speed up gun license processing, make tickets disappear, get police escorts for himself and his friends, and get assistance from uniformed personnel to resolve personal disputes and boost security at religious sites and events.
Reichberg managed to get his connections to shut down a lane of the Lincoln Tunnel connecting New Jersey and Manhattan and obtain a police escort for a businessman visiting the United States, the complaint said.
— Associated Press
There is not enough evidence to support federal criminal charges in the case of a teenager found dead inside a rolled-up gym mat at a Georgia high school, the Justice Department announced Monday.
The decision comes after a lengthy review of circumstances surrounding the death of 17-year-old Kendrick Johnson of Valdosta.
Local and state authorities had ruled that the teenager’s death Jan. 10, 2013, was a freak accident. They concluded that Johnson got stuck upside down in the middle of a rolled up mat and was unable to breathe. Johnson’s parents insisted someone must have killed their son and have pushed to reopen the investigation.
“After extensive investigation into this tragic event, federal investigators determined that there is insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that someone or some group of people willfully violated Kendrick Johnson’s civil rights or committed any other prosecutable federal crime,” the Justice Department said in a statement Monday.
Classmates at Lowndes High School found his body Jan. 11, 2013. A state medical examiner ruled the cause of death was “positional asphyxia,” meaning he got stuck upside down in a position that left him unable to breathe.
— Associated Press
Polygamous sect leader flees home confinement: Authorities say polygamous sect leader Lyle Jeffs has fled Salt Lake City, where he was supposed to be on home confinement pending trial on charges in a multimillion-dollar food-stamp fraud scheme, authorities said Monday. A U.S. attorney’s office spokeswoman said a warrant was issued Monday for Jeffs after he took off over the weekend. After several previous requests were denied, Jeffs was let out of jail June 9 by U.S. District Judge Ted Stewart. He was ordered to wear a GPS monitor.
Detroit City Hall in lockdown over possible gun: Authorities locked down Detroit City Hall and an adjacent county building Monday while police searched for a man who was allowed through a security checkpoint before guards realized that he might have a gun. Police said that there was no “active shooter” or any specific threat but that an image of what could be a gun was spotted after a bag passed through a security machine.
— From news services