QUEENS — The commanding officer of the Flushing precinct where ranking officers were accused of taking bribes to protect karaoke bars and nightclubs from police raids has been transferred to a job inside the Community Affairs Bureau, DNAinfo New York has learned.
Deputy Inspector Thomas Conforti, the head of the 109th Precinct for two years, was transferred late Friday and assigned to run the NYPD’s Crime Prevention Division based in Manhattan, officials said.
While the move comes on the heels of an investigation that has led to the arrests of a detective and a lieutenant and has cast a cloud on an additional two dozen officers, a police spokesman said Conforti is well thought of and that this shift puts him on a "promotion" path.
Conforti, who previously commanded the 112th Precinct in Forest Hills before moving to the 109th Precinct in Flushing, is a community-oriented supervisor known for being among the first NYPD supervisors to embrace the department’s social media outreach program.
But his transfer caps months of turmoil in the Flushing command that began with the December arrests of NYPD Detective Yatyu Yam and Lt. Robert Sung on charges of protecting nightclub and bar owners from police raids, records show.
Conforti could not immediately be reached for comment.
Despite the serious allegations involving a couple of dozen officers within his command, Conforti had the continued backing of Commissioner Bill Bratton and other top brass because he was said to have helped the Internal Affairs Bureau unearth the problem as well as during the probe.
Some insiders were skeptical, and thought the move may have been designed to get Conforti out of any new controversies.
One source said a surveillance tape taken inside a Flushing restaurant last year surfaced recently showing several of his officers walking around the establishment when it was closed — without a warrant — and that they later could not explain whether they had proper authority or cause to be there.
DNAinfo's “On The Inside” previously reported that as many as 23 officers were under a cloud in the investigation, a fact questioned by Bratton, who later acknowledged he had not been fully briefed. Most of those officers have also been transferred, with roughly a half-dozen stripped of their badges and guns and placed on modified duty.
The scandal erupted when Queens District Attorney Richard Brown’s two-year probe went public with the charges that Yam and Sung were taking tens of thousands of dollars from club owners who they had befriended and invited to their homes. They also convinced fellow officers to free customers already placed in handcuffs during separate drug raids.
According to Internal Affairs documents obtained by “On The Inside," there are two captains, three lieutenants, three sergeants, three detectives and 12 police officers now under investigation.
The most serious allegations involve a captain who allegedly “associated with a narcotics user;" a lieutenant who hung out “with a known criminal;” a sergeant and a detective who allegedly “misused department computers;” and a sergeant, a detective and an officer who allegedly took a bribe, the documents show.
Sources say Yam and Sung are weighing plea bargain offers from prosecutors, but no deals have been reached.