-- Three top NYPD officials and a fundraiser for Mayor Bill de Blasio were arrested at their homes by the NYPD and the FBI early Monday morning as part of a widening investigation, authorities said.
Deputy Inspector James Grant, Deputy Chief Michael Harrington and Sgt. David Villanueva, who is linked to the department's gun licensing division, were arrested Monday morning. Jeremy Reichberg, a Brooklyn businessman who donated to de Blasio's 2013 mayoral campaign, has also been arrested.
The arrests are linked to the alleged exchange of lavish gifts for favors, such as funeral escorts, street closures and expedited gun licenses for an ultra-Orthodox Jewish volunteer patrol known as the Shomrim that has long been controversial for its tactics in safeguarding ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods in Brooklyn.
Court records allege that cooperating witness Jona Rechnitz and Reichberg, who worked together, offered considerable favors to Grant and Harrington, including paying more than $100,000 for flights, hotel rooms, prostitutes, expensive meals, home improvements and prime seats to sporting events for the two officials.
In exchange, Grant and Harrington were “effectively … on call — ready and willing to use their official authority within the NYPD to provide assistance … on an as-needed basis,” according to a criminal complaint. This included providing “police escorts for them and their friends, assistance with private disputes and investigations, police resources for security at religious sites and events and the ability to get out of tickets or other infractions and special access to parades and other cultural events.”
The complaints also allege that in 2013, Rechnitz and Reichberg took Grant and an unnamed detective to Las Vegas for Super Bowl weekend. The $59,000 round trip included having a prostitute travel with them on a private plane. The prostitute allegedly stayed in Grant’s room in Las Vegas. “Grant and others took advantage of her services during the trip,” reads a complaint.
Grant also allegedly accepted a trip to Rome, paid for by Rechnitz, staying in what was described as the most “most luxurious hotel in Rome.”
The corruption investigation was started by the NYPD two years ago and was brought to the attention of the FBI and federal prosecutors in Manhattan, who brought today’s charges.