One Police Plaza

Cop forced to face music

July 27, 1998

Pity Deputy Insp. Joseph D. McKeever.

While he was hanging on as commanding officer of the prostitution-ridden Midtown South Precinct, we can now report it was rock music as much as the prostitution scandal itself that sparked his removal.

McKeever, it seems, is a musician. He plays the guitar in a rock band called The Nines. Three other cops from Midtown South are in the band.

On Wednesday, July 15, the night before Police Commissioner Howard Safir publicly confessed to the precinct's woes, including the fact that 20 cops were under investigation for allegedly protecting the prostitutes over the years, McKeever and The Nines performed at the Down Time music bar at 251 W. 30th St. in the heart of Midtown South. Investigators pointed out to Safir that McKeever's jamming with his precinct cops, in light of la scandale, could be viewed as sending "the wrong message." Hence, say officials close to the case, Safir's transfer of McKeever for "failure to supervise."

And that was just the beginning of McKeever's ordeal. Imagine how the father of four young children, coach of the Staten Island Sharks hockey team, basketball referee and softball coach in Blessed Sacrament's church youth league felt when he opened his hometown newspaper, the Staten Island Advance, Friday, July 17, and read the following:

"The Police Department is investigatating more than 20 officers in midtown Manhattan - including two from Staten Island - in a case involving officers sleeping with prostitutes . . .

"Police Commissioner Howard Safir said yesterday 23 officers and their supervisors are being investigated for a pattern of misconduct they believe started more than a decade ago.

"Included are Deputy Inspector Joseph McKeever, an Island resident and former commanding officer of the 120th Precinct. . . "

That article prompted Captains' Endowment Association attorney Richard Dienst to fire off a letter of protest to the Advance's editor Brian Laline. The letter prompted a second story in the Advance the following day, which probably didn't leave McKeever feeling much better.

While pointing out that McKeever was not engaged in illegal acts with prostitutes, the article stated: "The sex scandal in the Midtown South precinct may have irreparably tarnished a rising star in the police ranks . . .

"The precinct commander, Deputy Inspector Joseph McKeever, a Staten Island cop who has had a dream career in the department, has been bounced from the command in the wake of the scandal and his career prospects remain unclear."

Explained Laline: "We published a second story. We hope it satisfies their concerns."

Damage Control. That's the game that Brooklyn's phantom district attorney and stealth gubernatorial candidate Joe Hynes is playing after this newspaper described how his top aide Dennis Hawkins refused to prosecute a forgery case against Simon Jacobson of Crown Heights and Miami. Officials in Hynes' offices say Hynes is reluctant to offend leaders of the Orthodox Jewish community, of which Jacobson claims to be a part. Hynes' spokespeople publicly deny this allegation.

Now Hynes is telling top officials in the NYPD - whose Special Frauds squad spent months developing its case against Jacobson - that Jacobson may be charged again, this time with wide-ranging welfare fraud. Perhaps Hynes can also explain to the NYPD why from the time his office dropped the forgery charge against Jacobson on Jan. 15 until last week when Newsday reported it, his office did nothing whatsoever about the matter.

Last week this column reported that according to a guardianship application filed in Brooklyn State Supreme Court, Jacobson allegedly bilked an 80-year-old woman out of her entire $200,000 life savings, systematically looted her savings account and convinced her to remortgage her home - which she owned free and clear - for $191,000.

That Dog (Con't). Commissioner Neil Cohen of the city's Department of Health recently received the following anonymous letter, with copies sent to the mayor, the police commissioner and your humble servant.

"I am a police officer . . . I work on the 13th floor in Police headquarters, which is the same floor as the Office of . . . Public Information . . . The problem is Marilyn Mode, the Deputy Commissioner of Public Information who brings her dog to the office every day. This is not only unprofessional but a violation of the health code, yet nothing is done about it because the police commissioner allows her to do it . . . I am not the only person in the office or on the 13th floor who is bothered by this but everyone is afraid to speak up . . . I know lots of people who love their pets but can you imagine what it would be like if everyone was allowed to bring them to the workplace?"

©1998 Newsday, Inc.Reprinted with permission.