The federal corruption case against former NYPD Deputy Chief Michael Harrington smelled from the start. And the failure of his union, the Captains Endowment Association, to support him left him broke and bitter.
Two years ago, the feds labeled Harrington a cop “on call” to Jona Rechnitz and Jeremy Reichberg, two businessmen at the heart of what appeared to be a corruption scandal at the NYPD. It led to indictments of Harrington and an inspector who allegedly was flown to Las Vegas by Rechnitz on a private plane with a prostitute. At least eight other chiefs and inspectors were either transferred or placed on modified duty.
The feds based the case on the word of Rechnitz, an admitted liar who also was rich and arrogant — a dangerous mix, as the feds learned.
Specifically, Harrington was charged with accepting “personal and financial benefits” that “constituted clear violations of NYPD rules.”
These benefits included thousands of dollars that Reichberg allegedly paid to a security company that the feds claimed was run in part by Harrington’s family and which he unofficially helped manage. The feds also said he accepted a free hotel room in Chicago from Rechnitz, and a video-game system for his children.
When Harrington pleaded guilty to misapplying police resources earlier this month, there was nothing in his allocution about the company, Chicago, or the video game.
Instead, in his allocution, he said in part, “I intentionally misapplied . . . property belonging to the NYPD which, collectively, had a value of at least $5,000.”
The union refused to defend him. It said it wouldn’t pay for a lawyer, but declined to say why. Police sources outside the union say that was because he was charged with offenses beyond the scope of his employment. The union’s decision devastated Harrington, personally and financially.
“They abandoned him,” a person familiar with his situation said under the condition of anonymity to speak freely about the case. “It was disappointing and hurtful.”
So the 30-year department veteran from one of the NYPD’s most prominent police families — eight relatives on the job — with two kids in college and a third in a private high school was out there alone. He refinanced his house and laid out nearly $500,000 in legal fees.
Referring to the feds and the union, the person familiar with the situation said, “They destroyed his finances and destroyed his reputation. And for what? For nothing.”