Violent Crime Rises in New York: Blame the Bronx or de Blasio?

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and the NYPD held a press conference July 10th to announce that crime in the city has gone down. “New York City achieved a reduction of 853 crime reports, or -1.8% year-to-date, compared to the same period in 2017,” the NYPD said, citing the latest figures from its CompStat crime-fighting program.

Crime in general in New York City is at historic lows. That’s the good news. The bad news? Violent crimes—murder and rape—are trending upward.

147 murders were committed in New York from January 1 to June 30, 2018, according to NYPD statistics. Last year in the same period, it was 136. That’s an 8% rise.

NYPD officials blamed the Bronx. “The Bronx is driving the murder year to-date,” said NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan. He said much of the bloodshed in the Bronx was “gang-related.” The borough had 51 murders to June 30, a 64% increase from last year.

Blame the Bronx? Wait a New York minute. Northern Queens saw a 33% rise in murders; in southern Queens, the increase was 23%.

Putting that in perspective, the population of Queens is 2.3 million. In northern Queens, murders rose from 6 to 8; in southern Queens, murders rose from 17 to 21.

This past Saturday night, 16 people were shot in New York in 10 separate incidents. Four of the shootings were in Brooklyn. Two were in Queens. One was in Manhattan. Three were in the Bronx.

Monday night, four people were killed in a shooting incident in Queens, including a child.

The numbers are worse when it comes to rape. 903 rapes were reported in New York in the January to June period, 2018. Last year, it was 678. That’s a startling 33% rise.

Chief Monahan said the rise in reported rapes “may actually be a good thing because more people are coming forward.” But that’s a specious argument. There’s no evidence that the rape numbers are rising simply because “more people are coming forward.” New York law-enforcement professionals for years have been talking about disturbing trends in domestic violence and rape.

Reviewing the latest numbers, Leonard Levitt, the longtime chronicler of the NYPD, raised concerns. The department’s statistics are often “misleading,” Levitt wrote, in part because they conflate violent and non-violent crime.

The “uptick in murders,” Levitt wrote, “could be more consequential” than the slight decline in overall crime. “Murder is considered the bellwether crime because homicide statistics can’t be hidden or easily manipulated as other crime figures can.”

CompStat, the NYPD’s statistical management tool, has been a revolutionary sword in the fight against crime in New York. But with Mayor de Blasio’s political operatives taking control of the NYPD, the program is not immune from manipulation.

Like “all successful politicians,” Levitt noted, de Blasio “knows how to present bad news as good news. To aid him, he has his enablers at the NYPD.”

Politicizing law-enforcement is risky. The danger is not that people give up on the mayor if things go south, but lose faith in the police.

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Micah Morrison is chief investigative reporter for Judicial Watch. Follow him on Twitter @micah_morrison. Tips: mmorrison@judicialwatch.org

Investigative Bulletin is published by Judicial Watch. Reprints and media inquiries: jfarrell@judicialwatch.org

Questions About FBI Surround Case of Murdered Police Chief

Greg Adams

On a December day in a small Pennsylvania town in 1980, a fugitive jewel thief murdered the police chief and vanished. The thief was a New England career criminal named Donald Eugene Webb. The chief was Gregory Patrick Adams, a former Marine and city cop who took the Pennsylvania job in search of quieter times. Webb went on the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted” list and a thirty-seven-year manhunt of sorts ensued.

Last year, it ended. Webb’s remains were dug up in his wife’s back yard.

Her name is Lillian Webb. According to the FBI, her husband died around 1999 and Lillian buried him behind her home in North Dartmouth, Massachusetts, out by an old shed.

He remained there until 2017, when mysterious developments suddenly breathed new life into the case. But the biggest mystery of all is how Donald Webb eluded capture for nineteen years.

Documents reviewed by Judicial Watch suggest that most of the time—perhaps all of the time—he was living with Lillian. The documents raise new questions about Webb, the FBI, and the murder of Chief Adams. How did one of America’s most-wanted fugitives hide out for nearly two decades in his own home, right under the FBI’s nose?

FALL RIVER GANG

By the time of the Adams murder, Webb had a rap sheet going back twenty-five years. Law enforcement sources say he was an associate of the Fall River Gang, a loose confederation of criminals based in southeastern Massachusetts and specializing in burglaries of high-end homes and jewelry stores. The stolen goods allegedly were fenced through New England’s dominant Mafia group, the Patriarca crime family. But much remains murky about the true shape of the Fall River Gang and Webb’s Patriarca connection.

Investigators believe Webb was in tiny Saxonburg, Pennsylvania, casing a jewelry store when something caught Chief Adams’s attention. The chief, in his patrol car, pulled up to Webb’s rented white Mercury Cougar in an Agway parking lot. Webb had done prison time and was wanted in New York for burglary. He had told associates he wasn’t going back to jail.

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 “Agents” Emails, Inside the Mind of Bill de Blasio

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio last month finally turned over more than 4200 pages of unredacted emails in the “agents of the city” case. De Blasio had resisted disclosure, arguing that five outside advisers were effectively “agents of the city” whose communications should be shielded from the New York Freedom of Information Law. NY1 television and the New York Post sued and won. The documents are out. What have we learned?

Most of the emails reflect the administration’s early priorities—education, budgets, transportation, personnel, press releases and meetings. But there are plenty of glimpses behind the façade and into the true mind of the mayor. It’s not an uplifting picture.

The mayor relies heavily on some of his “agents.”  In the lawsuit, the five named “agents” were powerful PR mavens Jonathan Rosen, John Del Cecato, Bill Heyers and Nicholas Baldick, and Democratic Party senior operative Patrick Gaspard, who at the time was U.S. ambassador to South Africa. Gaspard is now president of George Soros’s Open Society Foundations. De Blasio relies heavily on Rosen, a constant presence in the emails. Del Cecato is often in the loop as well. Heyer and Baldick less so. Gaspard appears to be almost totally absent from the emails.

“You were wise last night,” de Blasio wrote to Rosen in an email titled “Smart Man.” “I need to talk to you more about what the group discussed last night. Want to see you in person. If you have a little time, I’ll be in the Slope later. If not, whenever works for you in the next few days.” (P. 1,072 of the production.) It’s a refrain that echoes through the emails.

Rosen is head of BerlinRosen, a communications firm closely tied to New York’s unions, real estate interests and left-leaning groups. Judicial Watch looked at Rosen’s connection to real estate mogul Bruce Ratner—a major de Blasio supporter—in a 2016 investigation, The New Tammany Hall: New York in the Age of Corruption.

The mayor is a whiner. De Blasio complains. A lot. Union leaders opposing him are “bastards.” (P. 1,073). He wants to keep a “scorecard” of “who was a friend and who was cheap.” The New York Times is “idiotic and “disgusting” and “disappointing” (1,080, 1,329).

The mayor hates the media. Tremendous energy goes into managing the Times. “We need to figure out a new paradigm” for the paper, the mayor complains. “This level of bias can’t be ignored. Either starve them or reason with them or something else.” (1,329). Publications large and small draw his enmity. When the Gotham Gazette asks if it’s time for the mayor to do town hall meetings, de Blasio emails Rosen and other top communications aides, “I’m so sick of this meme that I’m thinking of just scheduling town hall meetings so these guys can’t write about it anymore.” (1,133) An Atlantic profile is “horrible,” de Blasio writes. “I strongly advise we avoid profiles from now on.” (1,630)

The mayor hates the governor. De Blasio’s rivalry with Governor Andrew Cuomo is not news to anyone following New York politics, but the emails show raw emotion. “Andrew Cuomo is defiling any sense of decent, normal, high-road government left in New York State,” de Blasio emails top aides as Cuomo maneuvers to cut transit spending. “We can’t take this lying down… We must fight back and have other voices fight back.” (1,410)

The mayor is grandiose and self-pitying. When questions are raised about the mayor’s whereabouts after a firefighter is shot while responding to a blaze on Staten Island, de Blasio emails aides that “the news media is pitiful and it’s sad for our city and our nation.” (1,074)

A lengthy analysis follows. “Here’s what we know: the media wants to focus on death in all its forms and wants me to be present wherever death or grievous injury is involved. Today’s controversy about when exactly I should be at the hospital or an active shooter situation and what I’m ‘allowed’ to do if I’m not there is a case in point. We can make a conscience decision to surrender to them and just go to fires, crime scenes and memorials all day every day — or we can govern.”

He tells his team: “They will never defeat us. Only we can do that.”

The emails run from the opening of the de Blasio administration in January 2014 to December 2016. By late 2015, as pay-to-play controversies and other troubles engulf his administration, the mayor fades from the correspondence. But the agents of the city grind on. In the final email of the package, a senior de Blasio aide writes Rosen to thank him for the “partnerships” he fostered with “companies, foundations and individuals” in support of the mayor’s goals.

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 Micah Morrison is chief investigative reporter for Judicial Watch. Follow him on Twitter @micah_morrison. Tips: mmorrison@judicialwatch.org

Investigative Bulletin is published by Judicial Watch. Reprints and media inquiries: jfarrell@judicialwatch.org

The Strange Case of McAuliffe & McCabe

What happened when the swampiest of swamp cats met the man from the FBI?

 

Every student of American politics knows that Terry McAuliffe is that swampiest of swamp creatures, the cool cat with the big bucks. Al Gore called him “the greatest fundraiser in the history of the universe.” In 1996 alone, as national finance chairman of the Clinton-Gore re-election team, McAuliffe raised $50 million, but plunged the Democratic Party into a sweeping campaign-finance scandal involving the sale of sleepovers in the Lincoln Bedroom, coffee klatches at the White House, a vast cast of sketchy characters and rivers of money. The Clintons loved the ebullient money man and he loved them back. By 1999, McAuliffe claimed to have raised nearly $275 million for the Arkansas couple—and that’s before he joined forces with the Clinton’s 21st century money machine, the Clinton Foundation and Clinton Global Initiative. In 2000, he was named chairman of the Democratic National Committee. In 2008, he chaired Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. In 2013, with enthusiastic support from the Clintons, he ran for governor of Virginia and won.

By 2015, Governor McAuliffe already was “shaping a significant role for himself” in Mrs. Clinton’s second try at the presidency, Politico reported. A “consummate political animal, [McAuliffe] just can’t keep his fingers away from the flame. Despite the daily demands of running the state…he’s emerging as Hillary’s informal liaison to governors and the party’s biggest donors, while also keeping a finger on the pulse of the camp’s central operations in Brooklyn.”

By contrast, even today, in the wake of hundreds of media stories and last week’s Office of Inspector General report on alleged wrongdoing in the 2016 election, few people will recognize the name Andrew McCabe. He’s a swamp inhabitant too, though many would put him on the right side of the swamp, on dry land, chasing the bad guys. Except that’s not quite how it turned out.

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Mysterious Mr. Ng: Rise & Fall of a Clinton-Era Conspirator

“The leopard does not change his spots” is a favorite saying of prosecutors and the rise and fall of Clinton-era conspirator Ng Lap Seng proves the point. Ng cut a colorful swath through the 1996 Clinton campaign finance scandal. At the time, he was a mere millionaire with connections to the Chinese government and Asian organized crime. Now he is a billionaire. Last month, more than twenty years after he first appeared on the U.S. scene, federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York nailed him in a bribery scheme and put him away for four years.

In the bribery case, Ng showered two United Nations ambassadors—Francis Lorenzo of the Dominican Republic and John Ashe of Antigua and Barbuda—with cash. He needed their support for a multi-billion-dollar UN conference center he wanted to build in Macau. Ng envisioned the conference center as the cornerstone of a grandiose plan to turn the obscure gambling enclave into the “Geneva of Asia,” prosecutors said. Ng spent $1.5 million in the illegal effort. He set up a phony NGO and funneled $30,000 a month to Ambassador Lorenzo. More payments flowed to Lorenzo’s brother, to Ambassador Ashe, and to Ashe’s wife. In return, the ambassadors put a UN imprimatur on Ng’s construction plan. They drafted and circulated official UN documents in support of Ng and the Macau conference center.

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Legal Update: “What is the NYPD hiding?”

This is a story of a cop and the case that haunts him. Forty-six years ago, NYPD Patrolman Phillip Cardillo was gunned down inside Louis Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam Mosque #7 in Harlem. After a lengthy investigation strewn with roadblocks (detailed by Judicial Watch here and here) Detective Randy Jurgensen made an arrest. But evidence had disappeared, the crime scene had been erased, and a special prosecutor later determined there was “a concerted and orchestrated effort” by senior members of the NYPD to impede the murder investigation.

Jurgensen—a legendary NYPD detective who helped put away five cop-killers—believes he got the right man. Much of the law-enforcement community in New York agrees with him. But the trial of Lewis 17X Dupree resulted in a hung jury. At a second trial, he was acquitted. Jurgensen did not quit seeking answers. Years later, after his retirement from the NYPD, he wrote a book, Circle of Six, raising important questions about the case.

Following publication of Circle of Six, a prosecutor in the Dupree case, James Harmon, wrote a letter to then-Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. The letter was included in a paperback edition of the book. Harmon wrote: “Was there a conspiracy to lure police officers into the Mosque as part of a planned ambush, the purpose of which was to kill them?”

Cardillo and his partner had been lured to the mosque by a fake 10-13 “officer-in-distress call.” At the mosque, the front doors, usually manned by a Nation of Islam security detail, were open and unguarded. The officers rushed in.

Harmon also raised important questions about the role of the FBI in the incident. Police officers had “reported contact with unidentified FBI agents in the hours immediately following” the Cardillo shooting, Harmon wrote. He added, “In my long experience in law enforcement, this FBI presence was highly unusual and remains unexplained.”

Jurgensen’s book and Harmon’s letter led Kelly to re-open the Cardillo case in 2006, instructing the NYPD Major Case Squad to take a fresh look.

This was a high-level move. A cop was dead and no one had served a day in jail for the crime. The police commissioner himself was ordering a new look at the crime. Jurgensen and Harmon had several meetings with senior NYPD officials about the case, including Kelly.

Jurgensen assisted the Major Case investigation. He turned over his extensive personal files. He provided his copy of the 10-13 tape. He unearthed a secret NYPD report on the case, the so-called “Blue Book.”

NYPD officials told Jurgensen that the case material he provided, including the 10-13 tape, would be returned to him. They told him a final report on the murder was being prepared. They told him that copies of the report would be provided to him, the Cardillo family, and the Manhattan District Attorney.

None of that happened.

In 2011, Judicial Watch opened its own investigation. By then, according to several police sources, the Major Case Squad investigation had been closed.

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The Silver Standard

Sheldon Silver, the powerful former speaker of the New York State Assembly, went down last week—again—on corruption charges. Silver was convicted in 2015 of pocketing nearly $4 million in kickbacks and bribes, but the verdict was overturned in 2016 after the Supreme Court’s McDonnell decision narrowed the legal definition of public corruption. Prosecutors, said McDonnell, must show a quid-pro-quo “official action” to prove honest services fraud. Actions such as “setting up a meeting, talking to another official, or organizing an event” would not cut it, the court ruled. “To qualify as an ‘official act,’ the public official must make a decision or take an action on that question or matter, or agree to do so.” Much handwringing followed the decision, including from these quarters, saying that the Court had set the bar too high. Those concerns seemed justified last year when Senator Robert Menendez beat a corruption rap in part due to McDonnell.

But in the Silver case, prosecutors got it right. And in doing so, they set a new standard for prosecuting public corruption. Not only were they able to demonstrate clear quid-pro-quos, satisfying McDonnell, but they appeared to draw two other valuable lessons from mistakes in the Menendez case: keep it short, and keep it simple. Menendez rambled on for more than two months and featured a globe-trotting cast of colorful characters, some of whom had little relation to the matters at hand. The first Silver case ran for a month. The second was over in two weeks. Key witnesses quickly made their points and were gone.

The Silver case revolved around two corrupt schemes. In one, Silver steered cancer research funds to a prominent doctor, who in turn referred lucrative mesothelioma cases to a Silver-aligned law firm, which kicked back more than $3 million to the assembly speaker. In the second scheme, Silver promoted favorable tax legislation for real-estate developers. The developers paid a lawyer handsomely for the tax relief, and the lawyer funneled a cut to his old friend, Silver.

It’s hard to shake the notion that in New York, all this is viewed as business as usual. Where’s the outrage? Silver is one rodent in a long line of rats. The former assembly speaker was one of the infamous “three men in a room” who control New York State government in Albany. The other two are the majority leader of the state Senate, and the governor. The former majority leader, Dean Skelos, also got a McDonnell pass after his 2015 corruption conviction and will be retried in June. A former aide to Governor Andrew Cuomo was convicted in March of pocketing more than $300,000 in bribe schemes. Other allies of the governor will go on trial in June in a bid-rigging case involving billions in state funds. The governor, lest we forget, shut down his own corruption commission. In July, the former leader of the New York City corrections officers’ union faces retrial on bribery charges. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is beset by corruption allegations. A sweeping graft case has rocked the NYPD. And the attorney general of the state has been forced to resign and is under investigation for assaulting four women.

McDonnell and Silver remind us that the law is a living thing, shape-shifting through the courts to chase humankind’s ageless propensity to evil. Who is winning the race these days? On that, in New York, the jury is out.

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Micah Morrison is chief investigative reporter for Judicial Watch. Follow him on Twitter @micah_morrison. Tips: mmorrison@judicialwatch.org

Investigative Bulletin is published by Judicial Watch. Reprints and media inquiries: jfarrell@judicialwatch.org

The Zombie Afterlife of the Clinton Global Initiative

The summons from Chelsea Clinton came via email, an invitation to “be the change.”

“I am so excited about the Clinton Global Initiative University,” Chelsea wrote. In October, student leaders from “CGI U” will converge on Chicago, working on “projects big and small to address climate change, poverty, gender inequality, and other pressing issues facing their generation — and all of us.” The email provided four opportunities to donate to the Clinton Foundation. “None of this great work would be possible without you and your continued support.”

In January 2017, the New York State Labor Department issued a statutory notice that the Clinton Global Initiative—the annual glitterati schmooze fest that brought hundreds of millions of dollars into Clinton coffers—would be laying off twenty-two employees. The news went out: CGI was dead. Hillary would not be president; the gravy train had run out of steam. The Clintons closed up shop.

But in fact, reports of the death of the Clinton Global Initiative were greatly exaggerated. It continues in a kind of zombie afterlife, along with other Clinton Foundation efforts, including CGI U. “Building on the successful model of the Clinton Global Initiative,” the Clinton Foundation website says, “President Clinton launched the Clinton Global Initiative University in 2007 to engage the next generation of leaders on college campuses around the world.”

Mr. Clinton made a fortune from CGI U. His early partner in the project was the for-profit university system, Laureate Education. Laureate donated between $1 million and $5 million to the Clinton Foundation and signed Mr. Clinton up as “honorary chancellor” in 2010. Over the next five years, Laureate paid Mr. Clinton more than $17 million. That’s when Mrs. Clinton was secretary of state and gearing up her presidential run. Laureate was controlled Doug Becker, a big Democratic donor. Becker stepped aside as CEO in 2017 with a $23 million package after taking the company public.

What does an honorary chancellor do to earn $17 million? Laureate told CNN that Mr. Clinton “inspired” people. The State Department stonewalled Judicial Watch’s attempt to uncover more details, eventually producing a heavily redacted contract that blacked out descriptions of the former president’s role. Laureate lately seems to have been shoved down the memory hole—it does not appear in current CGI U promotional material and both the Clinton Foundation and Laureate did not respond to requests for clarification. But Chelsea Clinton is carrying on the work. “We’re here with one of the most remarkable world leaders,” a Laureate student said in a video interview at a CGI U event reported by the Washington Post. “We’re here with Chelsea Clinton.”

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Micah Morrison is chief investigative reporter for Judicial Watch. Follow him on Twitter @micah_morrison. Tips: mmorrison@judicialwatch.org

Investigative Bulletin is published by Judicial Watch. Reprints and media inquiries: jfarrell@judicialwatch.org

NYPD Blues: De Blasio Takes Over

In 2011, then-New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg got himself in hot water when he declared “I have my own army in the NYPD, which is the seventh biggest army in the world.”

It was not—not the seventh biggest and not an army—but Bloomberg was not far off the mark. With a current uniformed strength of about 36,000 and powerful unions, the New York Police Department is a profound force in the city, from the streets to the suites and in the corridors of political power. It has shaped the national and even international imagination in countless books, movies and television shows. The mayor rightfully exercises civilian control over the department and to varying degrees, and with varying success, police commissioners rightfully have struggled to keep the NYPD from being bent too far to the political will of the city’s top elected official.

That drama is being played out again today. Mayor Bill de Blasio, his eyes on higher national office, is wrapping his political machine around New York law enforcement, locking down avenues of transparency and independence that could cause him trouble. The mayor cloaks his moves in the progressive politics of his base but no one is fooled. This is about Iowa and New Hampshire and the kind of raw political power that de Blasio needs to exercise to keep his long-shot presidential hopes alive.

The mayor visited Iowa in December, insisting he was not running for president. His wife, Chirlane McCray, was in New Hampshire earlier this month. The New York Times recently noted that Ms. McCray “suddenly seems to be everywhere… [she] has stepped up her out-of-town travel, meeting with political leaders, speaking about her signature mental health initiative, networking and building the family brand outside New York City.”

In March, de Blasio installed a top political aide, Phillip Walzak, as NYPD spokesman, with the rank of deputy commissioner. Walzak was communications director for de Blasio’s successful 2013 mayoral run, a key City Hall aide, and helped run the mayor’s 2017 re-election campaign. New York’s police unions immediately denounced the appointment. “This is the clearest sign yet that the de Blasio administration thinks the NYPD’s primary mission is to serve as a political tool, not to protect the public safety of all New Yorkers,” said Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch.

“With the mayor’s former campaign manager now overseeing information given to the press,” Lynch added, “…how can either police officers or the public have any confidence that it will be dispensed with an eye toward public safety and justice and not filtered through a purely political lens?”

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The NYPD’s Despicable Lie

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Saturday marked the 46th anniversary of the shooting of NYPD Patrolman Phillip Cardillo inside Louis Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam mosque in Harlem. A conspiracy of cover-up and silence immediately surrounded the case. Decades of controversy followed. No one served a day in jail for the murder. In March, Judicial Watch sued the New York City Police Department for records in the case.

The New York Daily News asked Saturday: “Could the secret to unraveling the Cardillo murder be in the withheld records of the NYPD? The Judicial Watch lawsuit may be the last chance to get to the bottom of New York’s most infamous cold-case killing.” The op-ed was written by legendary NYPD detective Randy Jurgensen, who literally wrote the book on the case, “Circle of Six.”

46 years after the Cardillo shooting, Jurgensen notes, “the NYPD won’t release investigative files, a promised report and an audio tape, preposterously claiming an investigation is still ‘active and ongoing.’” A ruling in the case is expected soon. Legal action also is moving forward in a parallel case against the FBI in Washington. Read more about Judicial Watch’s legal moves here. Read more about the Judicial Watch investigation into the Cardillo killing here.

The Cardillo murder has been pursued across the decades because of an abiding sense of injustice: that law-enforcement and politicians conspired to make the case go away; that evidence vanished; that the shooter was arrested and acquitted due to the earlier cover-up. The injustice continues with the NYPD’s despicable lie that there is today, 46 years later, an “active and ongoing” investigation.

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