‘A policeman’s lot is not a happy one,” Gilbert and Sullivan wrote nearly 140 years ago. NYPD’s James Secreto and Diana Pizzuti would probably agree.
Secreto, the chief of housing, and Pizzuti, an assistant chief, were picked up on an audit by Comptroller Scott Stringer. The comptroller was looking at lavish spending by Thomas Galante, the recently ousted Queens Library president.
The audit found that during the chiefs’ previous commands in Queens, Galante bought them dinners at high-end steak joints. The problem is the NYPD Patrol Guide forbids ordinary cops and chiefs alike from accepting gratuities of more than $50. As a result, the chiefs were the subject of a Daily News story and are under investigation by the city’s Conflicts of Interest Board.
NYPD sources say Galante feted other chiefs and inspectors now retired. Still, top police officials say commanders can attend expensive dinners hosted by community groups in their official capacity.
Other NYPD conflicts board cases include:
Ex-Commissioner Ray Kelly prevailed on the nonprofit Police Foundation to pay for his expenses, including the $1,500 annual membership at the Harvard Club. After the payments became public, he was forced to amend his financial disclosure forms but was not required to reimburse.
In 2000, the board rebuked then-Commisioner Howard Safir for accepting a trip from Revlon Corp. to the 1999 Oscars. Safir had to repay the trip’s $7,000 cost.
In 1996, Mayor Rudy Giuliani called on the board to probe whether then-Commissioner Bill Bratton had a conflict of interest for accepting a $350,000 advance to write a book. He forced Bratton to resign before the board issued a decision.
So what will happen to the chiefs? Probably not too much more than a fine or reimbursement for the cost of the meals. Bratton needs the well-respected Secreto, one of his few black chiefs. Pizzuti, one of the NYPD’s few female chiefs, could find cover under his umbrella.
Many in the NYPD feel there’s a double standard that does not apply to city officials. Take Stringer. The board doesn’t seem to be interested in allegations reported last year that he ordered his police detail to chauffeur his wife to work and a wedding in Boston.
Supposedly, as long as Stringer accompanies her, the ride is considered city business.