Wednesday, November 9, 2011
2 Tuckahoe officers take pay cut over 'mishandling' of NYPD cop's alleged DWI
TUCKAHOE — Two village cops faced suspension for their handling of an accident involving a New York City police officer who may have been drunk, but both village officers gave up pay instead of missing work.
Police Chief John Costanzo issued a press release indicating that the department's investigation into the April 18, 2010, accident concluded with Sgt. John Cuccinello and Officer Vincent Pinto accepting the suspension as "command discipline."
Neither officer missed any time on the job because of the suspension.
Cuccinello was suspended for the equivalent of 16 days, which he satisfied by accepting a reduction of about $7,300 worth of accrued overtime.
Pinto was suspended eight days, satisfied through a reduction of about $3,200 in accrued overtime.
"The members involved mishandled the investigation of the accident. They accepted the consequences of their mistakes and moved on to serve the village in a professional manner," the chief said yesterday.
Last week, Costanzo and the Westchester District Attorney's Office indicated there would be no criminal charges in the case.
The investigations began in May of this year after www.DNAinfo.com posted a wiretap recording of a phone conversation in which one New York Police Department union delegate told another about the aftermath of the Tuckahoe accident and the effort to cover up the fact that the officer in the accident had been drunk.
The caller, Officer Chris Letizia, discussed how Cuccinello, a friend of his, went to his Tuckahoe home just after the accident to solicit his help in convincing the "bombed" driver to accept summonses for property damage.
The NYPD officer Letizia called was Joseph Anthony, one of the PBA's top-ranking delegates in the Bronx. The call was taped as part of a lengthy investigation by the Bronx District Attorney's Office into ticket-fixing by police. Anthony was among 16 NYPD cops indicted two weeks ago in the case.
The driver in the accident, Michael Lazarou, had smashed his SUV into a decorative light pole and parking meter on Sagamore Road near his home. When Cuccinello and Pinto got to the scene, the car was gone. But Pinto followed a fluid trail and found the car, with Lazarou nearby, on Dante Avenue half a mile away.
Lazarou's property damage summonses were dismissed last fall after his insurance company paid the village $17,600.
Costanzo yesterday would not discuss how the officers had acted inappropriately, only saying that they could have handled the matter in a better way and that the incident had put the department's integrity into question. He said Cuccinello's penalty was more severe because he was the supervisor on duty that night and had greater responsibility.
The chief said there was never any proof that Lazarou had been intoxicated.