One Police Plaza

Is he live or Memorex?

September 23, 1996

Six years ago, a mysterious black man appeared in Boston, accused by a white man, Charles Stuart, of murdering his pregnant wife.

Two years ago, the same man appeared in South Carolina, accused by a white woman, Susan Smith, of kidnapping her two small children.

Now, a mysterious black man (or maybe even two) has appeared in the Bronx, at the trial of Francis X. Livoti, a white cop accused of killing Anthony Baez, a Hispanic man, by choking him to death.

The mysterious black man never existed in the first two cases. Stuart murdered his wife. Smith drowned her children. If a mysterious black man played a role in Baez' death, as Livoti's attorney and two fellow cops suggest, it remains a mystery how he materialized out of the night, then, moments later, de-materialized.

Livoti's attorney Marshall Trager described the mystery man in his opening statement as "an unknown African-American" who happened on Livoti struggling with Baez as he attempted to arrest him on a Bronx street on a winter night in 1994, stopped to help Livoti, then vanished, never to be seen or heard from again.

Perhaps describing the same mystery man, Livoti's supervisor William Monahan testified last week about a pair of unknown "black hands" he had seen wrapped around Baez's upper body when Monahan said he, Livoti and other cops attempted to handcuff him. Monahan said he didn't know whose body the black hands belonged to because the mysterious stranger disappeared.

Another cop on the scene, William Fullam, testified he too saw an unidentified black man (two of them in fact; "two black transit cops," he said) near Livoti as he struggled with Baez. Fullam couldn't identify them either.

Monahan, Fullam and Fullam's partner, John Walcott, each testified they never saw Livoti choke Baez, who medical experts have testified died of asphixiation. So if Livoti didn't choke Baez to death, who did? Will the mysterious black man (or men) resurface in his trial or vanish again into the Bronx's thin air?

Check Out Who's Coming to Dinner. An aide to Police Commissioner Howard Safir says Safir is about "decency." Apparently, that doesn't include forgiveness.

Just try getting information from the police department about next Friday night's retirement dinner for ex-First Deputy Commissioner John Timoney. Timoney, in an outburst after Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, an equally forgiving soul, passed him over for Safir's job last April, called Safir a "lightweight." Although he apologized to Safir (but not to Giuliani, as Safir suggested he do) all the posters, which are traditionally plastered about One Police Plaza, announcing his dinner's time and place and where to buy tickets have vanished.

Timoney says two aides who he maintains were transferred last month from the first dep's office because they handled his dinner arrangements are no longer handling them. "I don't want to get them in any more trouble," he said. Instead, his wife is doing the arranging from their home.

Then there are the courageous top brass. Some are Timoney's longtime friends who fear attending his dinner may hurt their careers. What of Timoney's successor as first deputy, Tosano Simonetti, who tossed the two former Timoney aides? What of Chief of Department Louie Anemone, a favorite of Safir and Giuliani?

To find who shows, check out the New York Hilton Towers at 7 p.m. Friday. Cost is $90 a pop. Well, nobody ever said Timoney's friends were cheapskates.

Plus Ça Change . . . When cops broke away from the Hispanic Society to form the Latino Officers Association, its organizers decried the political alliance the society's leaders had forged with the then-Republican mayoral candidate, Rudolph Giuliani. In its current registration forms, potential members are asked to provide their party affiliation.

Seen: Simonetti and Anemone, holding three crime-related news conferences last week with Safir on vacation, Anemone appearing to lose his temper at reporters who questioned the department's decision to remove the 24-hour protection of Danielle DeMedici three days before her boyfriend murdered her.

Heard: PBA president Lou Matarazzo explaining why his union helped defeat Robert DiCarlo in the 23rd Senatorial District's Republican primary after DiCarlo opposed the union-backed PERB bill that would have allowed the state to arbitrate contract disputes between the PBA and the city:

"It wasn't that he DiCarlo voted against the PERB bill. We targeted him because he gloated about it."

©1996 Newsday, Inc.Reprinted with permission.