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Collateral Damage

November 20, 2017

Pity Mike Harrington, the NYPD Deputy Chief indicted in the fallout from the federal corruption case against former corrections union head Norman Seabrook.

Seabrook’s case ended in a mistrial last week. He was accused of taking a $60,000 kickback in return for steering $20 million of union funds to a hedge fund. The feds based their case on the word of Jona Rechnitz, a wealthy real estate investor who has pleaded guilty to fraud charges and whose testimony jurors appear to have rejected.

Click here to read what the police brass say about NYPD ConfidentialFederal prosecutors also based their indictment of Harrington on Rechnitz’s word.

According to his indictment, Harrington obtained thousands of dollars in business for a security company “run in part by Harrington’s family and which Harrington unofficially helped manage.” The money was allegedly paid by Jeremy Reichberg, a Brooklyn hustler and self-proclaimed NYPD “community liaison,” who was also indicted along with NYPD Deputy Inspector James Grant. The feds alleged that Harrington and Grant were fed lavish meals and gifts in return for doing favors for Reichberg.

But police sources say Harrington’s family had no part in running the company. Rather, the sources say, the company was founded by the radio patrol partner of Harrington’s brother, who was employed there.

According to the indictment, Rechnitz also paid for Harrington’s and his family’s hotel accommodations in Chicago. Police sources say Harrington makes an annual trip to Chicago with a law enforcement group. Because of a hotel mix-up, he was left without a room, the sources say. Rechnitz then paid for a suite of rooms. Rechnitz said Harrington never repaid him. Harrington said he repaid him for the price of a room, not the suite, the sources say.

Finally, according to the indictment, Harrington accepted a video game system for his children that Reichberg and Rechnitz delivered to his home on Christmas Day in 2013.

Click here to read the New York Times profile of Leonard LevittSo why was Harrington indicted over what seem like relatively minor issues compared to the actions of past police commissioners? No one indicted Bill Bratton after he accepted plane trips to Aspen, Col. and the Dominican Republican on the private jet of Wall Streeter Henry Kravis. No one indicted Howard Safir after he accepted a free plane trip for himself and his wife to the Oscars in Hollywood and was then comped at a five-star hotel by the Revlon Corp. No one indicted Ray Kelly for accepting $40,000 worth of free membership, meals and drinks at the Harvard Club, paid for by the Police Foundation.

As for Harrington, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out why he was indicted. Between May 2013 and November 2014, he served as the executive officer to then-Chief of Department Philip Banks, the NYPD ‘s highest-ranking uniformed officer.

Banks, a longtime friend of Seabrook, appears to have been a target as the federal investigation morphed from Seabrook to the NYPD. It was Banks who introduced Rechnitz to Seabrook after Harrington introduced Rechnitz to Banks.

In the end, Banks was not indicted. Nor did the feds question him. His greatest failing was showing horrible judgment in befriending Rechnitz, who, police sources say, called the personal cell of Mayor Bill de Blasio numerous times from Banks’s office. Federal and state prosecutors also did not bring any charges against de Blasio.

Click here to read the Washington Post article on NYPD ConfidentialMeanwhile, the feds say they’re going to retry Seabrook.  “We look forward to a retrial where we will present again the powerful proof of how Seabrook allegedly sold his duty to safeguard correction officers’ retirement money … in exchange for cash bribes,” the Acting U.S. Attorney Joon Kim said in a statement.

And Harrington? He was indicted in June 2016, and forced to retire. His trial date is set for April. Since then, he’s been in limbo.

That’s collateral damage.  

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