THE BRONX — Two former police officers embroiled in the NYPD ticket-fixing scandal have quietly agreed to plea deals that allow them to keep their pensions and avoid prison, officials say.
Christopher Manzi, 45, a former union delegate from the 41st Precinct in Hunts Point, pleaded guilty to a single grand larceny count yesterday before Judge Steven Barrett, who said Manzi can avoid jail by staying out of trouble for three years.
He retired in 2013, not long after his indictment.
Manzi's plea comes days after Brian McGuckin, a union financial secretary out of the 40th Precinct in the South Bronx, also pleaded guilty to a single count of grand larceny stemming from a sprawling investigation by Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson and the NYPD's Internal Affairs Bureau of police officers making tickets disappear.
McGuckin, a 19-year veteran, hoped that his trial would not begin until late this summer when he would have reached his 20th year on the force. But when McGuckin recently tried to dump his lawyer, Judge Steven Barrett accused him of trying to stall the case, and insisted that it go forward.
McGuckin, 47, filed for retirement just as his trial was about to start. He will keep a pension based on his time on the force, but will lose an annual pension bonus worth $12,000 a year.
He was also part of an insurgent slate that unsuccessfully tried to unseat Patrick Lynch, the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association president, in this year's union leadership election.
McGuckin and Manzi, who each faced dozens of ticket fixing counts, risked several years in prison if convicted at trial.
Officers convicted of any felony charge automatically lose both their jobs and pensions, which in some cases can be as much as $1.5 million in total retirement payouts.
Eleven other officers are awaiting trial on ticket fixing charges. Johnson is playing hardball with them, and not expected to offer them any better deals.
If they were to plead guilty, they would immediately lose their jobs.
The ticket-fixing probe grew out of an investigation into alleged drug dealing by a Bronx officer, Jose Ramos, when Internal Affairs investigators conducting wiretaps overheard discussions about officers tossing summonses. Ramos was subsequently convicted.
More than 100 other police officer were disciplined internally by the NYPD for their respective roles in the scandal.