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No. 2 cop pursues tax-free pension

February 21, 1997

Apparently First Deputy Commissioner Tosano Simonetti's heart problem will not prevent him from protecting zillionaire Ronald Perelman. The Police Department's No. 2, who completes a 40-year career next month when he turns 63, has been hired as director of security for MacAndrews & Forbes, Perelman's holding company.

And in time-honored NYPD fashion, Simonetti is planning to apply for a tax-free, line-of-duty disability pension under what is known as the Heart Bill. This fraudulent piece of legislation, passed at the urging of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, allows cops to claim that virtually any heart problem is job-related.

Referring to Simonetti, a top NYPD insider said: "The Legislature gave the department a present. No one is saying he is incapacitated."

If approved by the department's medical board, Simonetti will collect three-quarters of his current salary plus 20 years of salary increments for a tax-free annual income of nearly $130,000, paid for by the taxpayers of New York City. That's on top of his salary with Perelman, believed to be in the mid- $100,000s.

An official at MacAndrews & Forbes said Simonetti was not interviewed by Perelman, and declined to say whether the interviewer and Simonetti discussed his heart condition when they spoke late last year. � A retired chief who interviewed for a similar position said, "The only thing private industry wants to know about you and a disability pension is whether you are legally entitled to it."

Police Commissioner Howard Safir appointed Simonetti to the department's No. 2 post when Mayor Rudolph Giuliani appointed Safir commissioner last April.

Safir said at the time he could not understand how his predecessor, William Bratton, had overlooked Simonetti, then the commanding officer of Brooklyn Borough South.

Printable versionAs first deputy, Simonetti was viewed by many in the department as a mature ballast to the fiery Chief of Department Louis Anemone, though he was not without a temper himself as evidenced during last fall's Yankee Day parade, when he cursed out a mid-level city official. He did not return calls from Newsday.

Four names are being bruited about One Police Plaza as Simonetti's successor. First is Patrick Kelleher, the workaholic chief of detectives and former chief of Internal Affairs. In recent months, he has actually taken weekends off. Kelleher's negative: He's friends with former First Deputy Commissioner John Timoney, a sworn enemy of Giuliani, who tried to reduce his pension after Timoney called Safir a "lightweight."

Second is Michael Markman, the extra-competent chief of personnel, who is on good terms with Safir. His negative: Like Safir, he is of Jewish ancestry. That would mean two Jews would be running an Irish- and Italian-dominated Police Department.

Two less likely candidates: Eugene Devlin, the Staten Island borough commander, said to be close to a key Giuliani supporter, Staten Island Borough President Guy Molinari; and Chief of Patrol Wilbur Chapman, the department's highest-ranking black cop.

Few doubt that it is Giuliani, not Safir, who will make the final call. As a police source put it, "This is an election year. The issue is what is best for Rudy, not who can best run the NYPD."

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Email Leonard Levitt at llevitt@nypdconfidential.com

© 1997 Newsday, Inc. Reprinted with permission.