One Police Plaza

Ex-Gang Boss Sees Dollar Signs

September 12, 1994

Former Chinatown gang boss Yin Poy, better known as Nicky Louie, served 10 years in prison. Now, he's hoping to make crime pay with the help of the detective who spent a career tracking him down - and Deputy Police Commissioner John Miller.

Louie was the Ghost Shadows' co-founder and head until 1978, when he was deposed after surviving numerous assassination attempts. In 1986, he was convicted of racketeering along with 24 other Ghost Shadows. He was released from prison this spring.

Something of a Chinatown legend, the former street thug is pitching a book and movie deal based on his life of murder, extortion and robbery. He's been joined in the endeavor by Neil Mauriello, formerly of the Jade Squad Detective Unit, who says he's trying to enlist Miller to help with the deal.

Mauriello, who retired from the Police Department in 1982, was an original member of the Jade Squad, assigned to Chinatown street gangs. Once Louie's arch nemesis, Mauriello now says, "I'd call Louie a noble adversary. He's paid his dues and I'm trying to help him."

Mauriello, who's known Miller since he was 17-years-old and already a veteran television news reporter, says he asked Miller to contact his NBC / Hollywood friends that (despite Mayor Rudy Giuliani's objections) Miller still hangs out with in Elaine's restaurant. "I met with John a month ago. I don't think John will deny that," Mauriello says. "He promised to make calls to some producers. He also asked to meet Louie."

The Deputy Commissioner for Public Information bridles at the suggestion he'd help Louie. "Two years ago, Mauriello came to me about a story of a Chinatown cop who teamed up with a Chinatown gang member," Miller says. "There was a reporter in it. That was the deal."

He acknowledges meeting with Mauriello a month ago, but says his asking to meet Louie was only "in jest."

"I haven't done anything. I'm not doing anything for Louie. Anything I do is for Mauriello."

Friend of the law.
Included in the list of medals awarded for bravery last week at One Police Plaza was the Alfonse M. D'Amato Medal for Valor. The award is the only one named for a politician and no one seems to know how it came to be.

Lt. William Diffendale of the Ceremonial Unit says the award was established in 1984 by the Jeff Jeffrey family foundation, which is administered by retired police officer Ralph Grosso. Grosso couldn't be located for comment but Diffendale said Jeffrey was a Freeport, L.I., businessman, who died in Florida in July.

D'Amato's press spokesman Michael Petralia says it was the late William Jeffrey who asked the senator to sponsor the award because of "the senator's great repect and lifelong support of law-enforcement officers."

D'Amato does indeed have close friends in law enforcement. They include Police Benevolent Association president Phil Caruso; high-level Assistant Manhattan District Attorney Barbara Jones; and former PBA counsel Richard Hartman, who was forced to resign from the bar because of gambling problems and whose brother-in-law worked as D'Amato's administrative assistant. Back in 1984 D'Amato was even friends with then U.S. Attorney Giuliani.

Super Star.
Three-star Chief of Personnel Michael Julian is leaving to become Rockefeller Center's head of security. At 44, Julian is the youngest and one of the most visible of Commissioner William Bratton's super chiefs - and the first to leave. Julian, who joined the department at age 17, says he's undecided about applying for a line-of-duty disability pension - a knee injury limits his mobility and he says he cannot play basketball without a brace. If he accepts a disabililty pension, he could never be selected as police commissioner, should that possibility arise.

A leading candidate to succeed him is Assistant Brooklyn South Chief Mike Markman, who's been praised for his handling of this year's West Indian Day Parade that took place in Crown Heights on the eve of Rosh Hashanah.

Mistaken identity.
Lt. James J. O'Brien was finally tranferred out of Internal Affairs on Thursday - 21 years after he was reassigned there following his admission that he accepted bribes as a beat cop in Brooklyn in 1973. His transfer is a relief to at least one IAB colleague Lt. James T. O'Brien. This Lt. O'Brien has a clean disciplinary record, is no relation to the other and wasn't even on the force in 1973.

Where was Paddy?
Notably absent from the PBA's 100th annual convention at the Concord Hotel earlier this month was former First Vice President J. Patrick Burns, its $50,000-a-year Albany lobbyist. Burns, who retired in 1991 with a lucrative line-of-duty disablity pension, also left the PBA with a $750,000 hole in its pocket after a federal jury found him liable for damages in smearing the reputation of Sgt. Robert Hughes, whose job was to halt chronic malingering. A PBA official said Burns' absence was due to a long-planned trip, although the official noted Burns had not missed a convention in 35 years.

©1994 Newsday, Inc.Reprinted with permission.