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Who’s Who in the Federal NYPD/City Hall Corruption Probe

By Trevor Kapp | April 11, 2016 2:53pm | Updated on March 16, 2017 11:13am

UPDATE: No Charges for De Blasio in Fundraising Probe, Prosecutors Say

NEW YORK CITY — The NYPD was rocked by a long-running federal corruption probe that has reached into the highest levels of the department and City Hall before state and federal prosecutors announced they would not be bringing any charges.

As part of the FBI's look into an alleged pay-for-favors scandal involving two prominent Brooklyn businessmen with ties to Mayor Bill de Blasio and top police officials, the NYPD has stripped two high-ranking officers of their guns and badges and has transferred two deputy chiefs. And sources said the probe could spread.

Here’s a look at who’s who in the investigation (updates are noted in bold):

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Sm-Ali Amanollahi — Owner of Primary One, a beauty supply business whose employees made suspicious donations to Bill de Blasio’s 2013 mayoral campaign. All together, Amanollahi, his family, his employees and his associates contributed more than $55,000 combined to de Blasio between October and December 2013, Campaign Finance Board records show. A spokesman for the Campaign for One New York said the nonprofit would return $32,000. Sources told DNAinfo New York that Amanollahi threw a fundraiser in 2013 for the future mayor under a bogus name and two years later met with City Hall officials about rezoning a Queens property that he wanted to turn into a hotel.

Michael Ameri - An inspector who was head of the NYPD's Highways Division was questioned by federal investigators in March, but was not considered to be a target of the probe. He was a friend of Jeremy Reichberg, a Brooklyn businessman connected to the probe, and was suspected of giving police escorts to the businessman and his friends, sources said. He took his own life May 13, with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. He had previously served in Park Slope's 78th Precinct, where residents said his death was "a big loss for people who knew him and for the city as a whole."

► Philip Banks III - The NYPD’s former Chief of Department who resigned abruptly in October 2014 after refusing a promotion to first deputy commissioner. DNAinfo New York reported Monday that Banks received $250,000-$500,000 from Jona Rechnitz, a Brooklyn businessman connected to the probe. Banks reported the income on his final financial-disclosure form filed with the city’s Conflict of Interest Board weeks after he stepped down. Sources said he also went on trips to Israel and the Dominican Republic with Correction union head Norman Seabrook. Banks' attorney, Benjamin Brafman, declined comment.

► Campaign for One New York- The nonprofit group that Mayor Bill de Blasio used to raise millions of dollars to promote his political agenda. A spokesman for the group announced last month that it would be shutting down operations after accomplishing its goals of pushing forth proposals like universal pre-K and zoning changes. The Campaign for One New York received $35,000 from Reichberg, who is under FBI investigation.  

► Andrew Capul - The executive officer of the NYPD's Patrol Borough Manhattan North. Capul was placed on administrative leave on April 13. He was previously the commanding officer of 34th Precinct until 2010 when he was reassigned because of rising crime rates. Capul retired from the force in early June after Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said he expected arrests to be made following the probe. 

► David Colon - The commanding officer of the department’s Brooklyn Housing Bureau. He also worked in Community Affairs under Banks. Colon was transferred by the NYPD as part of the FBI investigation. Colon retired from the force in late May after Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said he expected arrests to be made following the probe.

Peter DeBlasio - An inspector who was the operations coordinator for the Brooklyn South patrol borough until he was placed on modified duty in mid-May. DeBlasio was also questioned by the FBI weeks ago, but it was not immediately clear why he was interviewed or why he was disciplined.

Bill de Blasio - The mayor of New York who sources say could be in the FBI crosshairs for his campaign ties to Reichberg and Rechnitz. Both businessmen were on de Blasio’s inaugural committee, with Rechnitz and his wife contributing nearly $5,000. Reichberg raised $35,000 for the Campaign for One New York, a nonprofit that accepted money from groups with city business to accomplish the mayor’s goals. The nonprofit has since been disbanded, but the feds are looking into whether it received preferential treatment. The mayor has vowed to return campaign donations from Rechnitz and has said that he doesn’t have a particularly close relationship with the pair.

Michael Endall - The commanding officer of the NYPD License Division, Deputy Inspector Endall was transferred from his post April 18 after revelations that Brooklyn businessman Alex Lichtenstein claimed he had bribed his way into getting licenses for his friends and associates.

► James Grant - An NYPD deputy inspector and the former commanding officer of the Upper East Side’s 19th Precinct, Grant was stripped of his gun and badge as investigators look into allegations that he accepted cash from one of the businessmen, Jeremy Reichberg, at the center of the probe. Investigators are also looking into allegations Grant escorted Reichberg from the airport several times when the businessman received diamonds from overseas. Grant retired from the force in late May, just a month shy of earning 20 years on the job, after Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said he expected arrests to be made following the probe. Grant was arrested by the federal agents on June 20. He was indicted on July 8 on bribery, wire fraud and conspiracy charges.

► Michael Harrington - An NYPD deputy chief and the No. 2 in the NYPD’s citywide housing bureau, Harrington was also stripped of his gun and badge and transferred amid the FBI probe. He worked for Banks when Banks was chief of department. Harrington retired from the force in late May after Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said he expected arrests to be made following the probe. Harrington was arrested by the federal agents on June 20. He was indicted on July 8 on bribery, wire fraud and conspiracy charges.

Charles Hocking — Hocking and his environmental engineering firm Hazen and Sawyer were subpoenaed in summer 2016 for records regarding his campaign donations to de Blasio. Hocking is a bundler who raised more than $50,000 for the mayor's 2013 campaign and transition team, records show.

Murray Huberfeld — Head of the Platinum Partners hedge fund, who was arrested on June 8, 2016, for allegedly bribing Norman Seabrook, head of the Correction Officers' Benevolent Association. Seabrook is accused of investing $20 million in union funds in Huberfeld's hedge fund.

Alex Lichtenstein - A Brooklyn businessman charged with bribing NYPD officers to expedite gun licenses for his friends and associates. Lichtenstein, 44, of Pomona, N.Y., offered to pay $6,000 to an NYPD officer working undercover for the US Attorney's office and Internal Affairs, according to his indictment. Lichtenstein bragged to investigators that he got 150 weapons for people, charging them $18,000 each, $6,000 of which he paid to police each time. Update: Lichtenstein pleaded guilty to bribing NYPD officials in November 2016. He was expected to be sentenced to up to five years in prison.

Michael Milici - A detective who worked as the community affairs liaison for Borough Park's 66th Precinct. He refused to answer questions from the FBI, citing his Fifth Amendment rights, about officers accepting gifts from Rechnitz and Reichberg. He was placed on modified assignment and stripped of his gun and badge. In April, he filed for retirement after 26 years on the force. But since he was still under a cloud of suspicion, he was immediately suspended. On May 18, Milici was fired from the force.

Richard Ochetal - The officer assigned to the NYPD's License Division was stripped of his gun and badge and placed on modified duty along with Sgt. David Villanueva following Lichtenstein's arrest. Ochetal was arrested by the federal agents on June 20, 2016.

Hamlet Peralta - The 36-year-old Bronx restaurateur with ties to Rechnitz and Reichberg. He is accused of soliciting investors for a fake wholesale liquor business, then using the money to compensate himself and other investors. He also allegedly paid off the NYPD with gifts. A former drug dealer who served three years in prison, he was arrested in Macon, Ga., and charged with one count of wire fraud. He has pleaded not guilty.

Jona Rechnitz - The owner of the Manhattan real-estate giant JSR Capital. Rechnitz also has ties to the mayor and contributed $4,950 to the mayor’s inaugural campaign in 2013, and raised $35,000 for de Blasio's Campaign for One New York before the nonprofit, which is now under investigations for violating campaign contributions, was dissolved. Rechnitz paid up to a half million dollars to Banks while he served as chief of department, according to Banks' 2014 Conflict of Interest Board financial disclosure forms. Mayor Bill de Blasio has since tried to distance himself from Rechnitz and Reichberg, saying his relationship to the businessmen was not “particularly close.” Rechnitz has pleaded guilty to bribery charges and is now a cooperating witness. He has not yet been sentenced pending his cooperation. 

Jeremy Reichberg - The owner of a venture capital firm accused of providing NYPD bigwigs with gifts in exchange for favors. Reichberg and Rechnitz allegedly wooed more than a dozen NYPD officers with free food, cash and lavish international trips, which are departmental and possibly legal violations. Reichberg is being investigated for allegedly giving cash to the former 19th Precinct commanding officer, James Grant, while he served as the commanding officer of Borough Park’s 66th precinct. He is also known to have close ties to the mayor, having served on his inaugural committee and donated to his campaign. He raised $35,000 for the non-profit Campaign for One New York, which is connected to the mayor. Reichberg has not been charged with any crime. Reichberg was arrested by the federal agents on June 20, 2016. He was indicted on July 8 on bribery, wire fraud and conspiracy charges.

► Eric Rodriguez - The executive officer of Patrol Borough Brooklyn South was reassigned to desk duty as part of the FBI investigation. He had recently been honored by the NYPD’s Desi Society for his community service work. Rodriguez retired from the force in early June after Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said he expected arrests to be made following the probe.

Peter Salzone - Update: An NYPD lieutenant from the 19th Precinct who federal authorities wanted to question as a witness in the probe. He shot himself in the stomach on Fri., Sept. 30, in his Bayside home, and was critically injured. Salzone was a longtime associate of Grant. They met when Grant was the commanding officer of the 72nd Precinct in Sunset Park. When Grant moved to the 19th Precinct on the Upper East Side, he brought Salzone with him to be the Integrity Control officer, overseeing actions of fellow officers in the command to ensure that they were not violating any department regulations or protocols.

► Norman Seabrook - The head of the Correction officers’ union and Banks’ close friend. Seabrook allegedly went on international trips with Banks that were partly paid for by Rechnitz and Reichberg. The sojourns included visits to the Dominican Republic and Israel. Seabrook was arrested on June 8, 2016, by federal authorities on fraud and corruption charges for getting tens of thousands in kickbacks for allegedly steering $20 million in union money to a hedge fund. Seabrook allegedly went to the Dominican Republic with Rechnitz in 2013 and asked to be bribed, according to court documents. Rechnitz acted as an intermediary for the kickbacks, documents show, from Murray Huberfeld, head of the Platinum Partners hedge fund. He was indicted on July 8 on bribery, wire fraud and conspiracy charges.

David Villanueva - Sgt. Villanueva, who also worked in the NYPD's License Division, was stripped of his gun and badge and placed on modified duty after the US Attorney charged Lichtenstein with bribing officers in the division for access to gun licenses for his friends. Villanueva was arrested by the federal agents on June 20, 2016.