By Madina Toure
The city Conflicts of Interest Board is weighing penalties against two NYPD assistant chiefs and a retired transportation chief who allegedly ate at fancy restaurants paid for with the business credit card of former embattled Queens Library CEO Thomas Galante, according to a published report.
The board has found “probable cause” indicating that Assistant Chiefs James Secreto, chief of the NYPD Housing Bureau ,and Diana Pizzuti, commanding officer of Patrol Borough Queens North, as well as former Transportation Bureau Chief James Tuller violated a city charter provision, the Daily News reported Wednesday.
The COIB says that no public servant may accept a valuable gift worth $50 or more from an individual or firm doing business with the city.
Wayne Hawley, general counsel for the COIB, said the board is not permitted to discuss a case unless the individuals have admitted to or have been found after a trial to have violated the law.
Thomas Rohback, Galante’s lawyer, declined to comment as his lawsuit filed against the Queens Library is pending.
“We are in the process of litigating that right now,” Rohback said.
The NYPD officials ate with Galante, who was ousted from his position in December 2014 for allegedly misusing library funds, at restaurants such as Quality Meats, Christo’s Steakhouse, San Pietro and Wolfgang’s Steakhouse but there appeared to be no allegation that they did any favors for him, the newspaper said.
Pizzuti and Tuller, the former commanding officer of Patrol Borough North, allegedly brought their spouses to the dinners meant for discussions on police matters and could face up to $25,000 in penalties for each dinner violation, the News said.
Secreto allegedly told investigators from the NYPD Internal Affairs Bureau that when he succeeded Tuller as a borough commander in Queens, Tuller told him to maintain good relationships with the community, including the Queens Library, the paper said.
This comes just as three senior NYPD officials were arrested and charged Monday with accepting bribes in exchange for official acts, according to U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara in Manhattan.
Deputy Chief Michael Harrington, Deputy Inspector James Grant and Brooklyn businessman Jeremy Reichberg were charged with conspiring to commit honest services wire fraud in a bribery scheme involving the receipt of tens of thousands of dollars in meals, trips, home renovations and other benefits in exchange for a variety of official NYPD actions, including private police escorts, ticket fixing and assistance in settling private disputes, Bharara said.
Sgt. David Villanueva, formerly a supervisor in the NYPD’s gun licensing division, was charged with bribery offenses in connection with his receipt of cash bribes to expedite and approve gun licenses, Bharara continued.
Reach reporter Madina Toure by e-mail at mtour