By Murray Weiss
DNAinfo Contributing Columnist
I now have a collection of secretly-recorded communications between cops and union officials that are being presented to a grand jury probing a widespread NYPD ticket-fixing scandal.
The often gruff, bawdy and racially-tinged conversations provide a window into a culture of questionable and sometimes potentially criminal conduct festering within the police department — an institution that on a grander scale has been rightfully lauded for driving crime down to 40-year lows and for trying to thwart terrorism.
Over the next several days, I'll share what I've heard. On one tape, a cop is heard making arrangements to meet a prostitute. On another, there's a conversation discussing a cover-up of a drunk-driving incident involving a cop from the Upper East Side who knocked down parking meters and light poles in Westchester. On still another, there is a cop working for Internal Affairs heard offering to leak information to the police union. One cop even tries to get a ticket fixed for his family barber.
Even the media was not spared as a reporter was captured on tape numerous times comparing notes with a union official who was a target of the probe.
And there are new details about how a speeding ticket got killed for Doug Behar, the head of stadium operations for the New York Yankees. That tape also exposes the cozy relationship between the NYPD and several union officials and the Bronx Bombers team, including Yankee vice president and security chief, Sonny Hight.
I broke the story last month that Behar got his speeding ticket last August when he was stopped by a Bronx highway cop. But the summons was killed before it even got to court, a source says.
A retired officer who had worked for the Yankees reached out to his friends in the NYPD, the tapes and a source now disclose.
A top official with the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association got involved, according to the tapes. So did Hight, a longtime senior vice president and chief security officer. It's unclear exactly when their conversations were recorded on the Bronx District Attorney's office's wiretaps.
"Just tell Doug to not do anything with it (the summons) ... to hang onto it," the official says in one call. "I will call as soon as I know what the situation is."
"Are you coming this way today?" Hight asks, referring to the stadium.
"Yes I am. I am coming to the game today with my wife."
"And you want to get to the Audi club?"
"No. We have tickets to the game," the official says. "We just want to get up to the Delta Club."
The Yankees declined to comment.
The team website says the Delta Sky360 Suite "redefines first class seating." Situated directly behind home plate, the club features an "expansive climate controlled lounge with an outdoor patio, providing breathtaking view of the playing field. The amenities and wide variety of food options will impress your family, friends and business associates from the moment they walk through the private entrance." Tickets go for $300.
"You need parking?" Hight asks.
"Nah," the cop says. "I am good for everything. We just like going up to the Delta Club. It is nice up there."
Then, in another later call, the union official, informs Hight that Behar’s summons is dead.
"We took care of that," the official says. "Tell Douglas he can just rip it up and throw it away, like he found it."
"Ok. That’s great, Joe."
"Just give me a call whenever you need," adds the union rep, who was recently placed on modified assignment by the NYPD.
"Thank you, Joe," Hight says. "I really appreciate it. Thanks, my friend."
Next: Inside a DWI coverup for a cop caught on tape.
Murray Weiss writes a weekly column for DNAinfo. He is an award-winning investigative journalist, author, columnist and editor, and is considered an expert on government, law enforcement, criminal justice, organized crime and terrorism.