Among those arrested by a joint force of FBI agents and the police were, Deputy Chief Michael Harrington, Deputy Inspector James Grant, and Sgt. David Villanueva were arrested. In a related development Jeremy Reichberg, a Brooklyn-based diamond merchant and prominent fund-raiser for Mayor de Blasio, was also arrested.
Chief Harrington was the commanding officer of Patrol Borough Manhattan North, Dep Insp Grant was the commanding officer of the 19th Precinct on the Upper East Side, while Sgt. Villanueva was assigned to the gun licensing division.
Deputy Inspector James Grant, arrested and arraigned, Monday
In addition, authorities said Monday that Police Officer Richard Ochetal, a second former member of the gun licensing unit, pleaded guilty before he was indicted. He is cooperating with the feds.
Grant and Harrington accepted “substantial bribes” from Reichberg, including a hooker, flights, hotels rooms, jewelry, business cards, and pricey meals, according to the criminal complaint filed in federal court in Manhattan.
Reichberg paid for home improvements for the men and high-end seats at sporting events. He spent well over $100,000 on the cops, the complaint said.
In return, Reichberg and friends in the hasidic Jewish community in the Borough Park section of Brooklyn got favors, like police escorts, assistance with private disputes, free security at religious sites, fixed tickets, and special access to parades and other cultural events, the complaint said.
Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office issued a brief written statement Monday. “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,” said Monica Klein, a de Blasio spokeswoman.
A recurring name in the NYPD feds probe is de Blasio fund raiser, Businessmen Jeremy Reichberg who was arrested Monday
Banks, now retired from the NYPD, is refered to as “Chief-1” in court papers. The feds sent a subpeona for his financial records to his accountant last year.
“We have always maintained that former Chief Banks did not knowingly violate the law and nothing about today’s arrest of other members of the Department changes that position,” Banks’ lawyer Ben Brafman said.
Reichberg had “ready access” to the highest levels of the NYPD through Harrington. They had a “one-stop shop for assistance via Harrington.”
On behalf of a jewelry store, Reichberg used his NYPD connection to cops in one instance to disperse people handing out brochures for a rival diamond salesman.
Reichberg also personally got a lane closed in the Lincoln Tunnel and a police escort for a businessman visiting the United States.
Dep Insp James Grant being hauled off for arraignment at Federal Court, Monday.
In January, 2013, Reichberg flew Grant and an NYPD detective to Las Vegas for Super Bowl weekend. A high-end hooker came along for the flight, and spent the weekend with the group. Grant allegedly had sex with the prostitute, the complaint said.
In August, 2013, Grant enjoyed a free $500-a-night hotel room during a vacation in Rome, courtesy of a witness cooperating with the feds, who sources identified as financier Jona Rechnitz.
Rechnitz pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit honest services fraud and has been cooperating with investigators. Correction officers union boss Norman Seabrook was busted June 8 on allegations he steered $20 million in union money to a hedge fund with ties to Rechnitz, in return for cash kickbacks and luxury trips.
Alex “Shaya” Lichtenstein is a prominent member of the Borough Park Shomrim. The Jewish ‘enforcer’ paid cops more than $12,500 to expedite gun permits
Reichberg and Rechnitz also paid for new railings outside of Grant’s private home, and bought him a $3,000 watch. On Christmas Day one year, they put on elf hats and drove to Grant’s home, where they gave a video game system to his kids, and a $1,000 piece of jewelry to his wife. They then drove to Harrington’s house and gave his kids a video game system. Reichberg also used his influence to get Grant promoted.
In return, Grant performed a lot of special favors. He drove Rechnitz to and from the airport using lights and sirens, and ordered subordinate cops to chauffeur him, too, the complaint said. He sent cops to check out one of Rechnitz’s buildings after a report of a trespasser.
In September, 2013, Reichberg convinced Grant to order cops to review security footage after a business associate lost his $50,000 watch in a cab.
Grant escorted Rechnitz and friend past barricades for parades, the New York City Marathon, and the New York’s Eve celebration in Times Square.
Grant was also tight with Alex “Shaya” Lichtenstein, previously indicted for bribing cops to speed up the gun license approval process. Lichtenstein paid for work on Grant’s house, the complaint sais.
Grant helped him get a gun license for one of Lichtenstein’s clients in about two months, when the process usually takes at least a year.
Sgt. Villanueva, who was assigned to the gun licensing division, is accused of taking bribes from Lichtenstein to expedite gun permit applications.
Lichtenstein, a prominent member of the Borough Park Shomrim, a Jewish security patrol, allegedly bribed Villanueva and Ochetal to obtain gun licenses for his clients.
Lichtenstein’s clients paid up to $18,000 per license.
In January, 2015, Grant was caught on a wiretap, coaching Reichberg to lie about being a distributor of diamonds, so he could justify the gun license.
On Jan. 16, 2015, Grant conveys his annoyance that Reichbrg was taking another police official to that year’s Super Bowl.
“See you don’t love me anymore,” Grant said. “You don’t even invite me to the Super Bowl, what the f—?”
In March of 2015, Reichberg invoked Grant’s name in an effort to fix a ticket for a friend. He called a deputy inspector who he knew and said Grant was a friend.
“Alright, I’ll tell them them he knows him,” the deputy inspector said.
Harrington’s involvement with Reichberg spanned May, 2013 to November, 2014. Rechnitz allegedly took Harrington to dinner at least once or twice a week. He also gave him Nets tickets worth $400 each and Rangers tickets worth $700 each.
In 2014, Rechnitz paid for three hotel rooms in Chicago for Harrington and his family–a total cost of $6,500. Harrington allegedly lied to investigators, claiming he had paid Rechnitz back after the trip was over.
Reichberg also arranged for institutions to hire a security company owned by Harrington’s family. In return, Harrington did favors.
When a jewelry businesses affiliated with Reichberg was having trouble with a rival shop, Harrington intervened. An off-duty cop was working for the rival shop, and Harrington had him investigated and disciplined.
Police Commissioner Bill Bratton admitts that the corruption cancer in his department is quite widespread
Harrington also made arrests of people at Reichberg’s request, the complaint said.
Harrington repeatedly sent cops to help Reichberg. In February, 2015, he ordered the commanding officer of a precinct in midtown to send a sergeant to investigate a missing $250,000 diamond.
That commanding officer told investigators he dispatched cops numerous times to settle diamond-related disputes for Reichberg. He was afraid to say no to Reichberg, because he was worried he would complain to Harrington.
Harrington also sent cops to synagogues as a favor to Reichberg.
Reichberg repeatedly attempted to influence promotions. At one point, in January, 2015 he told Harrington he wanted the chief to get command of Patrol Borough Brooklyn South, which contains Borough Park. “You still have to get this borough … We need you to get this borough.”
In a subsequent conversation with another senior cop, he said, “If we could pull this through, that would be huge and hopefully we’ll have a team in place very soon,” he said.
At another point, on February, 2015, Reichberg got a call from a unnamed deputy inspector who was concerned that he had fallen out of favor in the NYPD.
“Am I viewed as a nobody?” he wondered to Reichberg.
“No, a good guy,” Reichberg replied. “They like you. The last regime, they liked you a lot more.”