‘As a police officer, I wouldn’t have done anything differently. Nothing I did was inappropriate. The only thing I’d do differently is not talk to the feds. Not that I told them anything I don’t stand by. But to see how they lie.”
That’s former NYPD Deputy Chief Mike Harrington, who spoke with NYPD Confidential. He is the only officer found guilty in the federal “cops-on-call” probe.
He says he was first questioned by the FBI in February 2016. “Two agents, one male, one female, knocked at my door at 6 a.m. . . . They wanted to know about Banks, about Seabrook and about Jona and Jeremy.”
Former Chief of Department Philip Banks was Harrington’s boss and was subsequently named as an unindicted co-conspirator; Norman Seabrook, Banks’ friend and president of the city corrections officers union, was convicted in August of bribery and conspiracy for steering $20 million of union money to a risky hedge fund in exchange for a $60,000 kickback. The deal and kickback were arranged by Jona Rechnitz, the feds’ star witness against Harrington and Seabrook; Jeremey Reichberg, a self-proclaimed Hasidic liaison to the NYPD; and Deputy Insp. Jimmy Grant. Grant was acquitted of bribery. Reichberg was convicted of bribery and conspiracy.
Said Harrington: “The feds asked how did I know Jeremy and Jona. I said I had known Jeremy for years and that he had introduced me to Jona. They said, ‘We have you on a wire.’ I realize I am deep in this because I am Banks’ guy.”
Then, Shaya Lichtenstein, a volunteer with the Shomrim civilian patrol group, was accused of bribing cops in the License Division to expedite gun permits. “I had nothing to do with it,” Harrington said.
Harrington was charged with accepting “personal and financial benefits” that “constituted clear violations of NYPD rules.” These included accepting thousands of dollars from Reichberg, allegedly paid to a security company the feds said was run by Harrington’s family and which he helped manage. In the end, he pleaded guilty to a single felony and received probation. In his allocution, he said he misapplied NYPD property worth $5,000 to $6,500. The crimes he pleaded guilty to included arranging for Reichberg and others to be given a ride on a launch operated by the NYPD Harbor Unit and arranging for an NYPD helicopter to fly over a boat party Reichberg had on the East River.
While some might argue these are federal crimes, others might view them as departmental violations.