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Internal Affairs saga continues

August 10, 1998

It was but a brief colloquy in the police trial room, but it suggested, yet again, how the clique that runs the NYPD's internal disciplinary system is accountable to no one.

Last week this column reported how after Deputy Commissioner of Equal Employment Opportunity Sandra Marsh criticized the well-regarded (and well-connected) Staten Island Chief Gene Devlin over a sexual harassment complaint, Police Commissioner Howard Safir told her to take back her remarks. She refused - and is leaving the department.

This week, Deputy Commissioner of Trials Rae Koshetz may discover whether the clique views her, like it apparently does Marsh, as a token, permitting her to rule on police trials only until her decisions conflict with its special interests.

Last Thursday, Koshetz presided at a department hearing of Lt. Robert Brown stemming from another sexual harassment suit. This case implicated the well-regarded (and well-connected) narcotics Inspector Artie Storch. Brown's wife, Sgt. Michele Jarmon-Brown, had complained that Storch's cops indulged in lewd behavior toward her. Brown, at the time in the License Division, then allegedly threatened to submarine the career of Storch's sergeant, Joseph Falco.

Just before Brown's hearing, prosecutor Harry Peters of the Department Advocate's office received a phone call and vanished. To take his place, up stepped Sgt. John Kanganis, who knew nothing of the case.

"I want someone here immediately who is familiar with the case," said Koshetz, who by police standards is considered a straight-shooter.

According to notes from Brown's attorney, Jeffrey Goldberg, she added (apparently unsure how someone in the License Division could harm the career of a narcotics sergeant): "I want to know where the department is going with this. I can't believe they sent in someone who doesn't know anything about the case. I want Commissioner Lubin."

That's Assistant Deputy Commissioner Kevin Lubin, head of the Department Advocate's office, who reports to First Deputy Patrick Kelleher, who runs the entire disciplinary show. Note: "Assistant Deputy Commissioner" Lubin is subordinate to "Deputy Commissioner" Koshetz.

Lubin and Koshetz have tangled before. On March 7, 1997, Koshetz fired police officer Jay Creditor for missing 200 hours of work within four months. Hours later, Kelleher's predecessor, Tosano Simonetti, reversed her decision and Lubin negotiated a deal, allowing Creditor, in effect, to buy back his job by paying a $50,000 fine. Four days later, Creditor retired with a tax-free disability pension: lifetime value, $1.4 million.

Lubin neglected to include a no-sue clause in the deal, and Creditor is now suing the department for $50 million, claiming it violated his rights.

Printable versionMinutes after Koshetz dispatched Kanganis to get Lubin, Kanganis returned - without Lubin.

"He can't come. He's in a meeting," Kanganis said.

"Did you tell him I wanted him here now?" said Koshetz.

"Yes, but he couldn't leave the meeting."

"I will deal with this," said Koshetz.

The hearing resumes today.

Lugubrious and Ludicrous. The department's orthopedic medical board has approved a tax-free, line-of-duty disability pension for retired Chief Larry (Lugubrious) Loesch, a source told Newsday.

If approved this week by the pension board, he'll cash in with two other recently retired chiefs, Bob Burke and Charlie Reuther. Those two have cited the state's heart bill, which holds that heart-related diseases are job-related. If approved, Loesch's tax-free pension would be worth nearly $100,000 - tax-free. That's in addition to the six-figures he earns as Paine Webber's Director of Security.

Ludicrous as Loesch's award sounds, officials say police line-of-duty disability pensions are at an all-time low. Only eight were awarded to captains and above in 1997. Total line-of-duty pensions were only 299 - and are lower this year. Contrast this to 1982, where the department, 50 percent smaller, granted 722.

Contrast their freebie criteria - which is limited to the heart bill - to the Fire Department, where besides the heart bill, line-of-duty disabilities include lung diseases and (courtesy of former governor Mario Cuomo, who signed the bill in 1994) lymphomic, digestive, hematological, urinary and prostate cancers.

Or to the Corrections Department, where line-of-duty disabilities include AIDS, HIV, tuberculosis and hepatitis.

The Grandest Gesture. Commissioner Safir flew in from Europe, where he was vacationing with his wife, for last week's funeral of Police Officer Gerard Carter, then flew out again. No one professed to know whether he came in on his own or was ordered to by Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, or whether the city paid for his trip.

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Email Leonard Levitt at llevitt@nypdconfidential.com

© 1998 Newsday, Inc. Reprinted with permission.