17 Cops Indicted in Ticket-Fixing Probe, Face Arrest Next Week
A grand jury has indicted all 17 cops who were targeted by prosecutors in a massive NYPD ticket-fixing scandal that started with a tip about a rogue cop dealing drugs in the Bronx two years ago, DNAinfo.com has learned.
But those officers, including several supervisors, will have to spend a few more days anxiously waiting to learn their fate. They aren't expected to be notified by the Bronx District Attorney's office until after the weekend that they have to surrender to the NYPD's Internal Affairs Bureau to face criminal charges. They are expected to be suspended, have their weapons seized and then appear in court for arraignment early next week.
The vote on the indictments started on Sept. 20, but the entire process takes days to complete.
Delays in announcing the indictments stemmed from the amount of time it takes for prosecutors to draw up the necessary paperwork detailing the alleged crimes. They then must file the sealed indictments with the court after both the judge and grand jury foreperson sign off on each charge.
Many of the indicted cops are officials in The Bronx working for the city’s largest police union, the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association.
The investigation unearthed a sub-culture in the NYPD where union officials played central roles in routinely fixing thousands of tickets for fellow officers and their friends and relatives.
"On the Inside" disclosed months ago that cellphones of as many as 30 cops, including union officials, were bugged, and they were heard killing tickets with casual regularity.
The union was so concerned about its role in the alleged wrongdoing that it hired several top lawyers to deal with the possibility that it could face a criminal enterprise charges that are normally reserved for Mafia prosecutions.
But the union has dodged that bullet, sources say.
Seven PBA officials were among about 50 NYPD officers who testified with immunity before the grand jury.
"On The Inside" was first to disclose the magnitude of the scandal last April revealing that as many as 24 cops faced criminal indictment in the case, and that another 500 officers were implicated and would face disciplinary action from the NYPD.
One officer under a criminal could, Robert McGee, 62, who's a former union delegate, tried to kill himself last week after having to testify against other cops in exchange for his own immunity from possible prosecution.
Facing arrest is Jose Ramos, the officer whose alleged drug activity started the probe following a tip about his relationship with an ex-con drug dealer from Queens.
Internal Affairs targeted Ramos and the dealer, alternately seizing 8 pounds of marijuana from the dealer and soliciting Ramos to help undercover cops posing as drug dealers to move kilos of cocaine worth hundreds of thousand of dollars.
Investigators also eavesdropped on the phones at a barber shop owned by Ramos and allegedly heard him trying to get a friend’s ticket killed. From there, the ticket-fixing probe developed.
The New York Times reported Friday that one of the disturbing aspects of the probe involved leaks from Internal Affairs to union officials.
Last May, DNAinfo.com posted a recording where an Internal Affairs cop is heard telling a high-ranking union official that he would leak confidential information to him the moment he heard anything "serious." The Internal Affairs officer was responsible for manning an IAB complaint hotline for corruption allegations.
“If something comes through while I am working that is serious, I will contact you right away,” the IAB intake officer tells his union buddy, a Bronx PBA official.
“Dude, I am not worried about that,” the union honcho replied. “I have full faith in you.”
The IAB officer then talks about getting a ticket killed for his landlord.
Ironically, that officer was transferred to Internal Affairs for his protection because he was a self-described "whistleblower" whose complaint against a lieutenant at the 42nd Precinct in The Bronx, where he was a delegate, was reported in the newspapers.
He claimed that the lieutenant forced cops to write fake tickets and not take crime reports. The result of the investigation was not immediately clear.