The New York Post reports that "more than 100 of New York's Finest were investigated last year for allegedly associating with criminals -- from boozing with mobsters to pulling off robberies with gang members to even carrying on affairs with lowlife drug dealers":
The figure represents about half of the serious Internal Affairs corruption investigations, according to sources. "It is one of the big problems the Police Department faces," said a source familiar with the NYPD's hard-charging efforts to root out wrongdoers. * * * The issue has been of increasing concern as the force has gotten younger and starting salaries have fallen. Annual starting pay dipped to $25,100 a few years ago and has only recently been restored to $40,000. "You pay a low salary, and people come from neighborhoods where they grew up with people who didn't make the move" in the right direction, one source said. * * * Accusations of cops consorting with criminals are extraordinarily difficult to lodge because investigators must prove an individual was aware of someone's unsavory background. And many cops wind up being warned to avoid their errant relations. But the NYPD trial rooms are littered with cases in which cops are convicted of hanging out with "known criminals," coupled with other departmental violations. The NYPD declined to comment, but sources said the problem of cops associating with criminals was "a thread running through a lot of administrative cases."
The New York Post expose has shaken "public confidence in the New York Police Department":
Corruption allegations are nothing new to the NYPD. * * * However, the city has not seen system-wide corruption since the plain-clothes officer Frank Serpico testified to an investigating commission in 1971 that his fellow officers were taking millions of dollars in pay-offs from criminals.
"There will always be cases, no matter what. The question is: is it wide-spread? Is it condoned?" he said. "There were periods in the history of New York when it was systematic. Now we see individuals, but we do not have a widespread, highly organised, condoned system of corruption. We do have individuals or small groups of officers and it tends to be mixed up in the drug trade, where there is a great deal of money. That is the problem at the moment."
However, Richard Aborn, the president of the nonprofitmaking organization Citizens Crime Commission of New York City, said "that any corruption undermined public confidence and cooperation with the police":
"I do not have the sense there is more corruption now than there has been, but there is no such thing as an acceptable level of corruption," he said. "It sends out a very unsettling message to the community that the very people they turn to for help cannot be trusted. That can be very, very destabilizing."
Meanwhile, Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa, the NYPD cops who were sentenced yesterday to life in prison following their convictions for eight murders on behalf of Luchese crime family underboss Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso, get to keep their city pensions:
Both men have been drawing tax-free disability pensions from the city since they left the Police Department, according to city records. Mr. Caracappa, who retired in 1992 as a first-grade detective, receives $5,313 a month. Mr. Eppolito, who retired in 1990 as a second-grade detective, is paid $3,896 a month. Because they retired before they were accused of crimes, their pensions will continue. Moreover, the pensions are not subject to seizure for payment of the fines, said Joseph A. Bondy, the lawyer for Mr. Caracappa. * * * Under state law, public pensions are treated as property held in trust for the employees, and periodic efforts to make their forfeiture a penalty for corrupt public employees have failed. The Daily News reported last year that 450 corrupt former officials, judges and police officers were receiving pensions.