Mention the PBA, and the word “corruption” is usually not far behind.
Sure enough, amid the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association’s election next month, the top three officers of an insurgent slate seeking to unseat union president Patrick Lynch have been implicated in the NYPD’s ticket-fixing mess.
Brian Fusco, the presidential candidate in the insurgent Strengthen the Shield slate, has pleaded guilty to departmental charges. First and second vice presidential candidates, Joe Anthony and Michael Hernandez, face felony counts. And Brian McGuckin, who has withdrawn as the slate’s financial secretary, goes on trial this week on grand larceny and forgery charges.
On its website, the slate claims that, “Mr. Lynch has become complacent, intolerant of criticism and distant from his members’ daily needs.” But the claims may not be gaining traction because of the shadow the 2011 scandal has cast on insurgents.
Still, heading a group for 16 years — as Lynch has — goes to a man’s head. This was apparent after the assassination of two detectives in December, when Lynch accused Mayor Bill de Blasio of having “blood” on his hands, got officers to turn their backs on the mayor at the cops’ funerals, and encouraged a work slowdown.
Ironically, Lynch’s most notable accomplishment has been bringing the union into the 21st century, largely corruption-free. Lynch declined to comment.
Just a generation ago, the PBA seemed but a step away from a criminal enterprise. Chief counsel Ritchie Hartman went to prison for bribery and extortion convictions while employed by another police union. PBA chief investigator Walter Cox died in jail while awaiting trial on bribery charges.
Instead, the union flexes its muscle in other ways. After the 1999 fatal police shooting in the Bronx of Amadou Diallo, it got the trial to Albany, where a jury acquitted four cops charged in the case. Lynch also has seemed reluctant to publicly support the 13 cops indicted in the ticket-fixing scandal.
A PBA source said he “has kept a relatively low-profile in the scandal,” but added that the union has paid $1.7 million to attorneys to defend the officers.
“When the scandal first broke and the indictments were announced,” the source said, “we feared the Bronx district attorney was going to indict the union as a criminal enterprise.”