NYPD Deputy Inspector James Grant, most recently the commanding officer of the Upper East Side’s 19th Precinct and former commanding officer of the 72nd Precinct, was arrested by FBI agents and members of the NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau on Monday, June 20 along with three other NYPD officers, and charged with accepting bribes in exchange for doing favors for Jeremy Reichberg, a Brooklyn businessman and prominent fundraiser for Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Other NYPD brass arrested were Deputy Chief Michael Harrington and Sergeant David Villanueva. Reichberg was also arrested, as was Police Officer Richard Ochetal.
According to the criminal complaint filed in federal court in Manhattan, Reichberg allegedly cultivated close relationships with Grant and other officers. Over the course of several years, according to the indictment, he provided them with substantial bribes, including prostitutes, jewelry, expensive meals, private flights, hotel rooms, home improvements and prime seats to sporting events.
In Grant’s case, the complaint alleges, Reichberg provided him with, among other benefits, “a private jet trip to Las Vegas for the Super Bowl, costing $57,000 for the plane alone; a two-night stay in a hotel in Rome, worth more than $1,000; contracting work on his home worth approximately $12,000; and jewelry.”
In exchange, the indictment charged, Reichberg would call the NYPD for official action both for himself and for members of his community, particularly in Borough Park. Reichberg allegedly obtained benefits on an as-needed basis, giving him influence over internal NYPD affairs, including personnel decisions such as the promotion of certain favored NYPD officers.
In addition, according to the indictment, his largesse resulted in Grant and other officers being “on call” — ready and willing to use their positions within the NYPD to provide assistance to Reichberg on an as-needed basis.
Reichberg is accused of spending a total of well over than $100,000 for the benefit of Grant and other NYPD officers.
“The charges and today’s arrests are a culmination of the joint investigative efforts of the NYPD,” said NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton during a press conference at the U.S Attorney’s Office, Southern District of New York . “Police officers have to know better and have to follow the law.”
“The alleged conduct violates the basic principle that public servants are to serve the public, not help themselves to cash and benefits just for doing their jobs,” said U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara. “It is heartbreaking to see police officers who have taken the oath to serve and protect allegedly bring dishonor to an institution and profession deserving of the greatest honor. I thank the FBI for their work on this important investigation and the NYPD for its commitment and courage to police itself.”
“The abuses of power alleged in this case are not victimless crimes. The victims are the citizens of New York, who rely on officers to fulfill their sworn duty. The victims are the upstanding police officers who do everything in their power to uphold the law and protect the public,” said FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Diego Rodriquez. “The FBI, along with our partners, will continue to root out this kind of decay at every level in order to protect our citizens from the devastating consequences of corruption that undermines safety, and erodes the trust between law enforcement and the public.”
“If there’s ignorance or lack of understanding on the part of our personnel, those will be addressed,” Bratton said.
Grant was stripped of his badge and gun and placed on modified duty in April when the investigation first became public.
Grant has been a member of the NYPD since 1996. For most of his career until 2014, Grant was assigned to various posts in Brooklyn, including as commanding officer of the 72nd Precinct from December, 2011 through June, 2014. Most recently, from June, 2014 through April, 2015, Grant was the Commanding Officer of the 19th Precinct on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.
He also served in Boro Park’s 66th Precinct, an epicenter of the investigation. Several other police officers associated with that precinct have been implicated in the scandal, including the precinct’s former commanding officer, Inspector Peter DeBlasio, who was placed on modified duty and stripped of his gun and badge in May; a longtime community affairs officer with the precinct, Detective Michael Milici, who was fired last month; and Deputy Chief John Sprague, another former commander of the 66th Precinct, who was placed on modified duty earlier this month after refusing to testify in front of a grand jury convened to weigh the evidence in the scandal.
“These are never good, never easy days,” said Bratton.