Monday, September 26, 2011
Ticket-fixing scandal: NYPD cops' racist talk caught on wiretap recordings
It's more than ticket-fixing chatter investigators caught on their wiretaps: Cops are also heard talking trash about the people they're paid to protect, sources said.
The wiretap recordings at the heart of the probe captured conversations rife with racist and inflammatory remarks, sources told the Daily News.
"There's overtly racist language," said one source. "And it gets a lot worse than that."
The shocking language could cause the scandal to spiral far beyond the 17 cops already indicted, tainting cases of hundreds of officers caught on tape, legal experts said.
"If a Bronx jury hears a cop call someone a n----r or an animal, everything else they say goes out thewindow," said one veteran defenselawyer with a client who wasarrested by a cop implicated in the scandal.
The Bronx investigation - which began as a probe into a cop suspected of drug ties - quickly grew as officers were caught on tape discussing fixing tickets and other wrongdoing, prosecutors have alleged.
In the end, 17 cops - many of them union delegates - were indicted on Friday. Dozens of others will likely face departmental charges, sources said, and some already have.
The indicted officers could begin turning themselves in as early as today, sources said.
The cops are expected to be brought before Bronx Supreme Court Justice Steven Barrett this week on charges ranging from perjury and bribery to grand larceny and obstruction. "It's going to be the biggest parade of [arrested] cops we've seen in a long time," said a source close to the probe.
The tapes and transcripts of the officers swept up in the probe - even those not formally charged - lay bare the unseemly attitudes of some cops, sources said.
"That's how a lot of cops talk," said one source. "The difference here is, it's all on tape."
One example involves Officer Peter Hans, who was docked vacation days for getting tickets fixed. He was caught on the wire making disparaging remarks about the Bronx "ghettos" of Mott Haven and Melrose, where he was assigned, a source said.
The tapes could turn up in both the departmental hearings and the trials of the indicted officers. The recordings could later be dredged up in other cases involving any of the officers to question their credibility.
"I think the language will surprise and upset people," said a source who has heard some of the tapes.
Bronx juries have already acquitted two accused criminals arrested by cops embroiled in the scandal - including one man charged with attempted murder - in part because they did not believe the officers' testimony.
Prosecutors have worked feverishly to keep transcripts of the wiretapped calls from being made public, sources said.
In dozens of cases, they have cut deals with defendants to ensure the ticket-fixing issue didn't become a factor at trial, sources said.
In the case of Hans, prosecutors had a judge order that all transcripts of Hans' administrative testimony and profanity-laced calls be kept secret.
"You'll probably see that happen again and again," a lawyer connected to the case said.