The information on this blog about the corruption in America's courts will disgust and frighten you and propel you into a world of racketeering, greed, larceny, malicious prosecution, and outrageous disdain for due process, the Rule of Law, the United States Constitution, the Bill of Rights and Professional Responsibility Standards, Rules and Statutes. This is the Unified Court System of New York State. You will be a victim unless you speak up and protest. by Betsy Combier
Monday, July 22, 2013
Andrew Cuomo's Probe: Political Interference is Found
What Cuomo's probe found
Then-attorney general's investigation shows pattern of "political interference"
Then-Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo subpoenaed thousands of records during an intensive investigation of the New York State Police. Cuomo issued a 2009 report that found top State Police brass engaged in "political interference" but the probe fell short of proving there was a "rogue unit."
The Queens congressman was behind the wheel of hisLexus, which was outfitted with tinted windows and an expired police placard in arm's reach. He flicked on police strobe lights as a trooper attempted to stop him along the Thruway just south of Albany. Meeks was driving at "triple digit" speeds and weaving through traffic. The trooper eventually backed off, believing the luxury sedan might be an undercover police vehicle.
"It's not pulling over," he told a dispatcher.
"It could be the president out on a little escapade in his Mercedes," the dispatcher said.
Minutes later, Meeks' grey Lexus was boxed in by three State Police cruisers as he exited the Thruway in Albany. One of the troopers, in an internal memo filed days after the March 2008 incident, said the congressman was "indignant." Another trooper said the congressman told them he was "driving a police vehicle" and "en route to 'pick up the governor.' "
Meeks could have been ticketed for speeding and unlawful use of emergency lights. Instead, aState Police sergeant let him go with a warning.
The encounter, which was never made public, is one of dozens of politically charged events revealed in documents gathered during a far-reaching investigation of the State Police by then-Attorney GeneralAndrew M. Cuomo.Cuomo's office declined to release the investigative files when he was attorney general — claiming the probe was active — but the records were recently made available to theTimes Unionin response to a Freedom of Information request filed last year with the office of Attorney GeneralEric Schneiderman.
Although heavily redacted, the documents show extraordinary efforts by Cuomo's office to penetrate the inner dealings of the State Police andNew York Power Authority, which has a history of political ties to governors, including supplying planes for their travel and jobs for their friends. Cuomo's 16-month investigation ended in September 2009 with an 11-page report that concluded that top State Police officials engaged in "political interference," but found no evidence of a "rogue unit" operating within the 4,500-member agency.
Cuomo's investigation was prompted by an April 2008 executive order by Gov. David Paterson, who became entangled in his own controversies involving his State Police protectors. Paterson publicly disclosed that he had an open marriage because he said he feared State Police operatives might disclose the information. He said his directive to Cuomo was also based on concerns that a cabal of state troopers was engaging in political espionage — an allegation unsustained by Cuomo's investigation.
Still, the records indicate that some governors, includingGeorge E. Pataki, bypassed State Police protocols and hand-selected the leaders of their own security details, leading to a series of political scandals and abuses of authority. They also reveal transgressions that were not included in the report: troopers using connections to gain promotions; running personal errands for governors; teaching governors' children to drive; walking dogs; and ferrying governors' children to social events.
The investigators also learned of unusual interactions between governors and the state troopers who protected them under a code of silence for anything they witnessed.
Eliot Spitzer demanded that troopers guarding him leave his hotel room floor at night — "Now we know why," a trooper assigned to Spitzer's security detail wrote in an email, referring to the governor's use of prostitutes; Pataki's wife, "Libby," had her cellphone paid for by the State Police, a former State Police major testified; Pataki's son, Ted, got "a pass" when a trooper stopped him for driving 91 mph on the Northway in 2007; andThomas Doherty, who was a senior aide of Pataki's, drove a state-owned car outfitted with police lights and a siren, another trooper testified.
The files, packed in 65 bankers' boxes, reveal more serious abuses uncovered in the testimony and subpoenaed emails of dozens of troopers, NYPA officials and governors' aides who were interviewed for Cuomo's investigation. Still, the files' greatest details remain secret because Schneiderman refused to release transcripts of the more than 130 interviews, which were sworn testimonials compelled under threat of subpoena.
The witnesses included former State Police superintendents and numerous troopers assigned to protect governors. Zenia Mucha, a former top Pataki aide, andChauncey Parker, who headed the state Division ofCriminal Justice Services, were among those interviewed. FormerCongressman John Sweeneyand his wife, Gaia, testified about their 2005 domestic-violence incident and a decision by State Police officials, including former SuperintendentWayne Bennett, to "sanitize" the police report and remove any reference to domestic violence, in case it was leaked.
Cuomo's office subpoenaed the email and telephone databases of governors, the State Police, and the New York Power Authority. Investigators also were given records of State Police internal affairs probes dating to the 1990s and subpoenaed the motor vehicle records for anyone with state-issued legislative license plates, including members of theSenate and Assembly.
Around the time Cuomo's investigation began, a state lawmaker complained publicly that he believed troopers followed him when he drove to and from Albany. The investigation found no evidence lawmakers were singled out by State Police, though, and it's unclear that members of the Legislature were informed their motor vehicle records had been subpoenaed.
Fourteen months before the probe began, Lt.Walter Teppo, who was assigned to the governor's protection unit, sent an email to another trooper,Lisa Galbraith, warning what to expect as she joined the governor's detail.
"You are about to enter an environment of such backstabbing, lying and distrust it will make IAB (InternalAffairs Bureau) seem like theMickey Mouse Club," Teppo wrote. "You will be intentionally lied to and deceived. You will be undermined and patronized ... Nothing about this place has to do with security, it has to do with 'him' and their (expletive) cloak and dagger agendas."
Teppo was referring toDaniel Wiese, a former State Police colonel who, as Pataki's hometown friend, rose rapidly through the ranks and headed the governor's security detail from 1994 to 2003. Wiese remained a controlling force in the detail even after leaving the State Police in 2003 when he was appointed inspector general for the New York Power Authority. At NYPA, personal tax filings from 2007 show that Wiese's gross income, including a State Police pension, topped $271,000.
The investigators drilled deeply into Wiese's life, using subpoenas to obtain his personal emails, EZ-Pass toll records, cellphone-call history and computer files, even reviewing the wedding guest list for Wiese's daughter. (Pataki and his wife, as well as Eliot andSilda Wall Spitzer, were among the listed attendees.)
The investigative files indicate that Wiese, who was allowed to keep his badge after retiring, wielded power within the State Police and influenced superintendents in their decisions, including promotions. Wiese had a direct line to the State Police's top brass, and logs subpoenaed by Cuomo's office indicate that Wiese left "too many messages to document" at the superintendent's office between 2003 and 2007.
In one instance, the files show, a trooper who was a close friend of Wiese's was suspended but not fired when he came to work intoxicated and with alcohol in his troop car. That incident followed an off-duty encounter when the trooper, who worked on the governor's security detail with Wiese, was let go by police in New Windsor when he was stopped for allegedly driving drunk.
Cuomo's office also accused Wiese of destroying evidence as the probe began, but that allegation was left unsustained. They said Wiese had wiped his BlackBerry on the day their investigation was revealed, but a computer analyst for NYPA told Cuomo's office he erased the data because the device was malfunctioning and needed to be reset.
Wiese did not respond to requests for comment for this story.
In the early weeks of the investigation, the attorney general's investigators interviewed a State Police major,Robin Benziger, who worked for Wiese on the governor's detail in 1994. Benziger told the investigators she was unaware of any political espionage by Wiese, whom she described as "insecure and paranoid." She said he lacked the experience to run the detail and had been given the job due to his connections to Pataki.
Wiese "brought in a number of his own people for the detail and used those guys to do his dirty work," according to a summary of Benziger's interview. "Benziger said she never ordered anyone to 'hawk down' a politician or knew of anyone that did. Benziger said that in the event that a trooper stopped a politician, they either called it in to a supervisor or made notes of the incident."
A 2008 traffic stop of an aide to state Sen. Joseph Griffo of Rome was among a series of traffic incidents examined by Cuomo's investigators. The aide,Brian Adey, who is still is?Griffo's director of operations, was ticketed for driving 73 mph in a construction zone along the Thruway while workers were present. Court records indicate that Adey pleaded guilty to a "parking violation" and paid a $150 fine. Adey could not be reached for comment.
In May 2008, a month into the investigation, Cuomo received an email fromFredric U. Dicker, a state editor for the New York Post who had written articles critical of Wiese. In the email, Dicker detailed why he believed Wiese, whom he referred to as "Danny," had been illegally hired by the New York Power Authority. The email was sent to Cuomo's private BlackBerry email address. Dicker also criticized Wiese's pension waiver, known as a 211, that allowed him to collect a salary and State Police pension.
Cuomo forwarded the email to Ellen Biben, one of his top assistant attorney generals leading the investigation. "Also, forward all of the past ones like this to Sharon. Do ustill have them," Cuomo wrote. He was referring toSharon L. McCarthy, a former federal prosecutor who led the attorney general's investigation.
Steven M. Cohen, who was Cuomo's chief of staff as attorney general, on Friday characterized Dicker's email as part of a broad effort to obtain intelligence from "individuals familiar with Albany, credible information pertaining to any improper political influence infecting the State Police. This email in question, and every email we received containing tips or information related to the probe, was sent to our team for review."
Another email sent to McCarthy raised questions about whether Wiese may have been a "protector" of a politically connected owner of a Putnam County towing company owner. The email was sent by Cohen, who last week said he could not recall sending it or where the information originated.
"After Pataki got elected (the towing company) did not have the NYS Thruway service contract, he lost it to another firm, (the towing company) suddenly got the Thruway back," the email stated. "(The towing company owner) was able to fix anything through Weiss (sic) and Pataki, he also had another ex-employee in Pataki's private service to connect with."
Cohen expressed surprise that unsubstantiated information would be released to the public, but confirmed that he referred the email to McCarthy and her team. Cohen said the investigators concluded the information was without basis.
Yet It wasn't the only account in the Attorney General's files about troopers allegedly playing favorites with towing companies.
The files also contained a letter fromSean Brooks, who owns a Sullivan County towing company, outlining how troopers in Liberty removed his company from a towing call-list used by State Police. Brooks accused specific troopers of using a favored company, and not his, because of personal connections and favors the company may have done for the troopers.
In an interview last week, Brooks said nothing was ever done. He said State Police had briefly reinstated his company, but quickly removed him again after he met with internal affairs investigators in Poughkeepsie.
"Before I got back (home) I was off the list again," Brooks said. "They took me off for nine years. I probably spent $300,000 in attorneys fees. ... The court ruled it's their list and they can do whatever they want."
Brooks said the Attorney General's office represented the State Police in his lawsuit and that no one from Cuomo's office contacted him during the 2009 investigation.
Coming Monday: The Cuomo investigation examined NYPA planes, Spitzer's prostitution scandal, the suicide of a trooper and "political interference" for then-U.S. Rep. John Sweeney.