Federal prosecutors in New York served up their second nothingburger last week in their long-running NYPD corruption investigation with the no-jail-time sentencing of former Deputy Chief Michael Harrington.
The feds had charged him in 2016 with all sorts of crimes, including accepting bribes from businessmen Jeremy Reichberg and Jona Rechnitz, donors to Mayor Bill de Blasio. He ultimately pleaded guilty to a minor one of misusing department resources — including boat rides and flyovers for Reichberg parties, rides in police cars and providing officers to help resolve private disputes. Harrington took early retirement from the NYPD after his 2016 arrest. U.S. District Court Judge Gregory Woods sentenced him last week to 2 years of probation and 180 hours of community service.
Harrington, 53, a 30-year NYPD veteran from Staten Island, is the second player in what was considered a major NYPD scandal to have his charges whittled down. The first was stockbroker Murray Huberfeld, originally charged with paying a $60,000 bribe to former corrections union head Norman Seabrook in a $20 million bribery scheme. He pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of wire fraud conspiracy in connection with mismanaging his hedge fund, quite a difference. Sentence: 6 to 12 months in prison.
Reichberg and ex-NYPD officer James Grant, who are co-defendants in the case, are due to go on trial for bribery in October.
Federal prosecutor Martin Bell seemed frustrated enough with Harrington’s sentence that he read into the record part of an NYPD Confidential column of March 12 that said, referring to the feds and the captains union, whose board refused to pay Harrington’s multi-hundred-thousand dollar legal fees: “They destroyed his finances and his reputation. And for what? For nothing.”
Bell disagreed. “This was not nothing,” he said. “It was something important.”