The DNAinfo archives brought to you by WNYC.
Read the press release here.

Senior De Blasio Aide Dates Convicted Killer Who Calls Police 'Pigs'

By James Fanelli | September 25, 2014 3:28pm
 Rachel Noerdlinger, the chief of staff for first lady Chirlane McCray, has been dating a convicted killer for more than four years, records show. His most recent run-in with the law happened last year when he nearly ran over a New Jersey police officer, according to court and police documents.
Hassaun McFarlan
View Full Caption

CIVIC CENTER — A senior adviser to Mayor Bill de Blasio is in a serious relationship with a convicted killer and interstate drug trafficker whose most recent run-in with the law happened late last year — when he nearly ran over a New Jersey police officer while driving her car, records show.

Rachel Noerdlinger, the chief of staff to first lady Chirlane McCray who has attended top-level NYPD meetings, has been romantically linked to Hassaun McFarlan since 2010. Court and police records show that the two have lived together for nearly two years.

McFarlan, 36, has been arrested at least five times, including for the fatal shooting of a teenager over a down jacket, records show.

Two of the arrests occurred while he was dating Noerdlinger, a former aide to the Rev. Al Sharpton. While they’ve been an item, McFarlan has also trashed police officers on his Facebook account, referring to them as “pigs” in two posts.

 Rachel Noerdlinger, the chief of staff for first lady Chirlane McCray, has been dating Hassaun McFarlan, a convicted killer, records show. On his Facebook page, McFarlan refers to police officers as "pigs."
Hassaun McFarlan
View Full Caption

In one online rant, McFarlan said, “I cant come outside without the pigs f------ with me in the hood.”

When contacted about their relationship and McFarlan's comments, the mayor's office backed Noerdlinger as a key aide to the administration, but said it did not tolerate derogatory comments about police.

“No one at City Hall condones criminal behavior or disparagement of the NYPD, including Rachel," said de Blasio spokeswoman Rebecca Katz. "Rachel is her own person. She is a strong, independent woman who possesses a core set of values and beliefs that align with this administration.”

McFarlan did not respond to a request for comment.

McFarlan’s criminal past dates back to age 15, when he shot 18-year-old Kenneth Carter in the St. Nicholas Houses in Harlem in January 1993, according to court records.

At the time of the shooting, McFarlan had just returned to Harlem after spending two years in Connecticut at a Better Chance program, where inner-city students are sent to live and study at suburban schools.

In Harlem he was being raised by a single mom working two jobs, but being pushed by his father, a drug dealer, to follow his path, sources said.

After the shooting, McFarlan allegedly went on the lam and wasn’t arrested until December 1993, when detectives tracked him down in Cliffside, N.J., according to a news report at the time.

He eventually pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to 3 1/3 to 10 years in prison, according to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. He was paroled on Dec. 29, 2000, after serving two thirds of his maximum term, according to the state Department of Corrections.

Three years later, McFarlan was back in trouble with the law — this time being busted in Massachusetts as part of an interstate crack-trafficking ring, records show.

Police arrested him on July 29, 2003, at an apartment in New Bedford, Mass., where investigators  recovered 29 grams of cocaine, digital scales and supplies for making crack, according to a report in the local newspaper, The Standard-Times. Investigators accused McFarlan of purchasing cocaine and driving it up to New Bedford, the news report says.

McFarlan, then 25, was indicted on Sept. 11, 2003, in Bristol County Superior Court on charges of drug trafficking, drug possession, conspiracy to violate the state’s drug law and trafficking drugs in a school zone, court records show. McFarlan’s bail was set at $500,000 bond or $50,000 cash, but he was unable to post bail and remained in jail, according to court records.

Two years later, he pleaded guilty to drug-trafficking, drug-possession and conspiracy charges and was sentenced to a minimum of three years and a maximum of four years, court records show. McFarlan was released from Massachusetts state prison in June 23, 2007, records show. 

Since then, he has been arrested at least three times.

On Oct. 21, 2009, NYPD officers busted him in Manhattan for driving with a suspended license and aggravated unlicensed operation of a vehicle. He pleaded guilty in March 2010 and paid a $500 fine.

NYPD police officers arrested him again on Aug. 10, 2011, in Harlem for driving with a suspended license, according to a criminal complaint. He pleaded guilty to two charges of operating a vehicle without a license and served seven days in jail, records show.

McFarlan was most recently arrested on Nov. 11, 2013, for eluding an Edgewater, New Jersey police officer after being ordered to halt, court and police records show.

A police report says that at about 4 a.m. on Nov. 10, the officer, Tim Farrell, had responded to the scene of an accident on River Road in Edgewater. The officer parked his squad car in a lane to block traffic while a tow truck was removing a disabled red Honda.

Ten minutes later, as the officer directed traffic around the accident scene, he heard a “loud dragging noise” and spotted a black Mercedes-Benz sedan with heavy damage to its passenger side and a missing front tire driving down the street, the police report says.

As the sedan approached the officer, it crossed the road's yellow lines and drove southbound in a northbound lane, the report says. Farrell shouted to the driver to stop and motioned with his hands to halt, the report says.

Farrell stated in the police report that when the sedan came within 10 feet of him, he was able to positively identify McFarlan. That’s when McFarlan “rapidly accelerated” causing the officer “to jump out of the northbound lane to avoid being struck,” according to the report.

“Moments after I jumped out of the way, I observed the tow truck driver, who stated that he had to jump out of the way as well,” Farrell said in the report.

Since he was directing traffic, Farrell was unable to pursue the car but radioed police headquarters and gave a description of the vehicle and McFarlan.

Police didn’t immediately find the vehicle, but Farrell later traced a scrape mark in the road that he believed the damaged Mercedes left. He followed the trail for 2 miles, and it led to the damaged sedan parked in a municipal lot across from McFarlan and Noerdlinger’s apartment.

The sedan was registered to Noerdlinger. McFarlan was arrested the following day. The police report does not say whether the damage to the Mercedes was the result of the accident Farrell had responded to.

McFarlan eventually pleaded guilty in March 2014 to an amended charge of disorderly conduct in connection to the incident and was ordered to pay more than $500 in fines and fees.

In the Edgewater police report, McFarlan described himself as a self-employed electrician. However, on his LinkedIn account, he also listed as having worked for Noerdlinger’s communication firm.

The LinkedIn page was taken down after DNAinfo left a message for him and spoke to the mayor’s office on Wednesday.

On McFarlan’s Facebook page, where he went by Hassaun Kenneth Ackles, he has railed against NYPD tactics and derided officers as “pigs.”

In a Jan. 13, 2012, post, he linked to a New York Post story about a Staten Island cop pleading guilty to falsifying charges to arrest an innocent black man and misusing his authority to violate the man’s civil rights.

“The system sucks this pig should be charged with a civil rights violation always giin the pigs a pass,” he wrote.

In a March 15, 2012, post, McFarlan wrote, “I cant come outside without the pigs f------ with me in the hood out the hood im a magnet to police f------ with me.”

McFarlan has also been an outspoken critic of the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policy, posting pictures of himself wearing shirts and hats that say “Stop End Frisk.”

He also posted photos of himself at civil rights marches, including one with Sharpton at a protest over the death of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed black teenager who was killed by a mixed-race neighborhood watch volunteer while walking to his Florida home. 

McFarlan’s Facebook page was taken down Wednesday night following DNAinfo's inquiries.

Noerdlinger’s relationship with McFarlan initially came to light in a February 2010 New York Post story about her own arrest on a misdemeanor assault charge for allegedly pushing and shoving his ex-girlfriend at his Bronx apartment.

On her Instagram and Facebook accounts, Noerdlinger, has posted pictures of her and McFarlan, including one in July when they attended a gala benefit for Haiti.

On Feb. 4, 2013, an Edgewater landlord leasing a condo to Noerdlinger brought an eviction proceeding against her, accusing her of owing $5,037 in back rent and late fees, court papers show. Noerdlinger lived in the apartment with "her partner" and her son, the court papers say. Public records show that McFarlan was living at the address at the time.

The landlord dropped the case later that month when Noerdlinger moved out of the condo and into an Edgewater apartment.

The landlord declined to comment for this story.

Terrie Williams, an author and mental health advocate who runs the nonprofit Stay Strong Foundation, said she has known McFarlan for five years and describes him as a bright young man with "very smart opinions."

Williams, who works with the National Action Network, said she was introduced to him through Noerdlinger. She agreed to counsel him about "emotional issues and life issues." McFarlan's father died of AIDS in 1994. His mother committed suicide in 2009.

She said that McFarlan once shared with her his own experience of being stopped and frisked while trying to shoot a video with friends.

"It was the first time I ever spoke to someone who told me their experience of stop and frisk," Williams said. "I promise you, it haunted me for days. I couldn't imagine having your life disrupted like that."

She said that now she helps arrange speaking engagements for McFarlan. She said he also mentors kids and teens, warning them to not follow his path.

"He is changing lives by using his own testimony," she said. "That's the beauty of us being able to reinvent ourselves, change our lives and do some good."

The de Blasio administration announced Noerdlinger’s hiring as Chirlane McCray’s chief of staff on Jan. 20, 2014. She previously worked as the longtime spokeswoman for Sharpton’s National Action Network.

Beyond her duties for the first lady, Noerdlinger attends de Blasio’s daily cabinet briefing.

DNAinfo New York first reported on Monday that Noerdlinger and McCray have sat in on NYPD Compstat meetings. McCray is the only first lady to attend the monthly powwows, where police brass grill supervisors and detective commanders about crime levels in each precinct.

De Blasio defended their attendance at the high-level meeting on Tuesday.

"It shows you how the NYPD is working every day to improve all it does," he told reporters. "So, it was very important for the first lady to see it, because, as I said probably a thousand times, she’s my most important adviser, and people I’m closest to in the world and person I listen to most.”

Noerdlinger was a key figure for the de Blasio administration after Eric Garner's death in July and the subsequent public outcry over allegations of excessive force by the NYPD. 

She acted as a go-between for the mayor’s office, Sharpton and Garner’s family, according to news reports.