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Feds arrest three high ranking members of the NYPD on corruption charges

June 22, 2016  |  Posted by: JammedUp Staff
Feds arrest three high ranking members of the NYPD on corruption charges

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Three high-ranking NYPD police officers acted as “cops on call” for two deep-pocketed donors for de Blasio, as long as their “elves” provided them with gifts and a high-flying lifestyle that included expensive meals, hookers, and free hotels.

Deputy Inspector James Grant, Chief Michael Harrington, and Seargent David Villaneuva were all arrested on Sunday, which is the latest news in a far-reaching bribery scandal that has also caught Norman Seabrook, the long time correction officers’ union leader.

According to the New York Post, Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney for Manhattan, is currently coordinating several overlapping city, state, and federal investigations into NYPD’s top cops and several other successful business men. Bharara said that the cops served as private security in exchange for perks that are estimated to be worth more than $100,000.

Harrington, who is the senior chief of the NYPD’s Housing Bureau, along with Grant, the commanding officer of the Upper East Side’s 19th precinct, were arrested for conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud.

Brooklyn diamond merchant and successful business person, Jeremy Reichberg, was also arrested on the same charges.

Villanueva, who was working for the gun license bureau, purportedly helped expedite weapons permits in exchange for gifts and was detained on charges of conspiring to commit bribery.

Bharara said, “They [Reichberg and friends] got, in effect … cops on call.”

The four arrests are another low blow for the NYPD, which has been put under months of scrutiny for a number of various scandals.

Both Reichberg and another individual, who has already pleaded guilty in the case and is cooperating and has been identified as investor Jona Rechnitz, is also known for heavily contributing to Mayor de Blasio’s campaign.

Rechnitz and Reichberg reportedly dressed up in elf costumes on Christmas in 2013 and drove to Grant’s residence where they gifted his kids with a new video game console and a 1,000 piece of jewelry for his wife; the two reportedly did the same for Harrington’s family. Reichberg allegedly also pulled strings to secure Grant a promotion.

Grant was irritated when the elves didn’t return bearing gifts the following year. A taped call recording the man saying, the “two elves didn’t come for f—ing Christmas.”

Grant was also discovered on a wiretap back in January 2015 teaching Reichberg to inform a friend seeking a gun permit to falsely claim to be a diamond distributor to expedite the application.

The complaint also alleged that Reichberg had “ready access” to top NYPD officials through Harrington’s connections.

When Reichberg had an altercation with another individual over a $250,000 diamond, Harrington got another NYPD top official, who has been identified as Timothy Beaudette the then commanding officer of the Midtown North Precinct, to try to resolve the conflict.

Head of the captains’ union Roy Richter said that Beaudette, an inspector who is now working in the Training Division, “conducted himself lawfully and directed appropriate police resources to merchants requesting assistance in his command.”

In 2013, Reichberg sent Grant and a fellow NYPD detective to Las Vegas for the Super Bowl. A high-end prostitute came along and spent the weekend with the group. She told investigators “Grant and others took advantage of her services.”

In August 2013, Grant took advantage of a $500-a-night hotel room in Rome, which was reportedly was a gift from Rechnitz.

In January 2015, Grant was recorded on a wiretap displaying his irritation that Reichberg was flying another NYPD official to that year’s Super Bowl.

Grant said, “See you don’t love me anymore … You don’t even invite me to the Super Bowl, what the f—?”

Reichberg and his crew in the Hasidic Jewish community in Brooklyn got favors, like police escorts, assistance free security at religious sites, fixed tickets, and exclusive access to parades and other events.

Grant and Harrington were freed on $250,000 bond. Villanueva pleaded not guilty at his hearing which took place on Monday afternoon and was allowed to be released on a $200,000 personal bond. Reichberg was permitted to be released on a $500,000 bond.

One of Grant’s relatives, who spoke on a condition of anonymity, said that “James is one of the most upstanding men you will ever meet… The man that he was, he is never going to be again.”

Another frustrated and irate relative told a reporter who inquired about the arrests: “May your wife be raped by many people.”

Additionally, officials announced that officer Richard Ochetal, another former member of the gun licensing unit, pleaded guilty before he was indicted and is currently cooperating with the government.

Bill Bratton, the NYPD police commissioner, said that the investigation was opened when two fellow officers came forward on the same day about three-and-a-half years ago during the Bloomberg administration when Raymond Kelly was still NYPD commissioner. The three suspects were all suspended from their posts after their arrests.

Bratton said, “This case shows, whether you’re a cop or a chief, if you break the law you’ll be handled the same way.”

Although Mayor de Blasio did not speak directly with reporters, his office issued a comment that said: “The Mayor and Commissioner Bratton are both committed to ensuring that the NYPD maintains the integrity and trust that the public expects from its Police Department.”

Rechnitz has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit honest services fraud.

The long-standing president of the Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association, Norman Seabrook, was apprehended on June 8th following allegations that he directed $20 million in union money to a hedge fund who had links to Rechnitz. Reports indicate that he did so in return for luxury trips and cash.

Additional court documents suggest that Reichberg and Rechnitz gifted Grant with new railings for his home and also purchased him a $3,000 watch.

Grant is also known to be associated with Alex (Shaya) Lichenstein, who was previously arrested for bribing cops to speed up the gun license application process. The man also reportedly paid for work to be done on Grant’s home.

Grant helped Lichenstein obtain a firearms license for one of his clients in just two months, while the standard approval process takes approximately one year.

Villanueva, who was working for the gun licensing division, is also accused of accepting bribes from Lichtenstein to facilitate gun permit applications.

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