Cardillo

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 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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Clinton, Comey, Uranium One: Who Is John W. Huber?

Widespread head-scratching has followed Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ recent disclosure that U.S. Attorney John W. Huber is leading an investigation into 2016 election controversies. In a March 29 letter to Republican committee chairmen, Mr. Sessions said that Mr. Huber, the U. S. Attorney for Utah, had been appointed to “evaluate certain issues” raised by the GOP. He did not say which issues, but there are plenty.

In a July 27, 2017 letter, GOP leaders had called on Mr. Sessions to “appoint a second special counsel to investigate a plethora of matters connected to the 2016 election and its aftermath.” These included actions by Hillary Clinton, James Comey, Loretta Lynch and others, email controversies, mishandling of classified information, Fusion GPS and the Steele Dossier, FISA warrants, wire taps, leaks, grand juries, the Clinton Foundation and the Uranium One deal.

Mr. Sessions instead appointed Mr. Huber, “an experienced federal prosecutor,” and left the door open to a special counsel. Mr. Sessions noted that Mr. Huber “will make recommendations as to whether any matters not currently under investigation should be opened, whether any matters currently under investigation require further resources, or whether any matters merit the appointment of a Special Counsel.”

Translation: Mr. Huber is investigating the investigations, not the underlying allegations.

Mr. Huber was appointed Assistant U.S. Attorney in Utah in 2002. He was named U.S. Attorney in 2015 by Barack Obama. Mr. Huber has an important backer in Utah’s senior senator, Orrin Hatch. After President Trump requested the resignations of all sitting U.S. Attorneys, Mr. Sessions kept Mr. Huber alive with an interim appointment under the Federal Vacancies Act, until the president could be persuaded to re-nominate him. He was confirmed a second time for the post in August.

It’s a truism of law enforcement that if you want to pursue high-level political corruption, get yourself a junkyard dog—a strong prosecutor, good in a fight. Hickman Ewing Jr.—the former U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee and later the Whitewater Deputy Independent Counsel—comes to mind. Mr. Ewing had a long track record of pursuing political corruption before Kenneth Starr tapped him for the Whitewater probe. The Office of U.S. Attorney in Utah, by contrast, has been toothless. Mr. Huber has not been implicated in any wrongdoing, but for the last three years it has been his shop and his responsibility. Before that, it was his training ground.

In November, for example, a federal judge dismissed the last charges against Terry Diehl, a powerful Utah developer and former Utah Transit Authority board member. The government was widely seen as bungling the case. The Salt Lake Tribune noted that Diehl, “a well-known developer with friends in high places — including [Utah] House Speaker Greg Hughes, R-Draper — once stood charged with 14 felony counts that stemmed from allegations that he lied about or hid assets as part of a 2012 bankruptcy. Prosecutors had whittled the case down three times since early October, dropping counts of concealment and tax evasion.” Prosecutors acknowledged “missteps” to the newspaper, including getting wrong the amount of taxes Diehl allegedly did not pay.

Mr. Huber’s office also lost a 2017 case against real-estate mogul Rick Koerber, charged with running a multi-million-dollar Ponzi scheme. The case—the government’s second try—ended in a mistrial. A judge threw out an earlier case. The government will try again in September.

But the Rosetta Stone for understanding Utah’s corruption problems may be the sprawling saga of John Swallow and Mark Shurtleff, two former Utah attorneys general charged with a multitude of corruption charges. The case gripped the state for years. Mr. Huber’s office recused itself in 2013 from the investigations, transferring the case to Colorado. Later, the Justice Department declined to charge either man and Utah state prosecutors took over. Swallow was acquitted on all counts last year and the charges against Shurtleff were dropped in 2016 by Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings, who bitterly complainedabout FBI and Justice Department conduct in the case.

That’s how the game is played in Utah, locals say. Power brokers have the state wired. Mr. Huber seems like a decent man, but his tenure at the top of Utah law enforcement has been short and undistinguished. Why appoint him to such a sensitive position in Washington?

One explanation is that Mr. Sessions knows precisely who Mr. Huber is and what he wants from him. Mr. Sessions went to bat for Mr. Huber in his re-appointment as U.S. Attorney and named him vice-chair of the prestigious Attorney General’s Advisory Committee. Mr. Huber, a political survivor, knows precisely who Mr. Sessions is and what the attorney general wants from him.

Another more intriguing explanation is that Mr. Sessions needs someone who knows Utah. One part of Mr. Huber’s mandate, as outlined in the GOP letter, is the “purchase of Uranium One by the company Rosatom, whether the approval of the sale was connected to any donations to the Clinton Foundation, and what role Secretary Clinton played in the approval of the sale.”

Uranium One’s assets included significant holdings in Utah and nearby states. Prosecutors—and the media, so transfixed by the Mueller probe that they decline to look elsewhere—should follow the Uranium One money in Utah and the rest of the West. And if Mr. Huber does recommend additional investigations or a second special counsel, Mr. Sessions should get himself a junkyard dog.

 

 

Cop-Killing Cover-up? Judicial Watch Goes to Court Against NYPD, FBI in Famed Cold Case

Tomorrow in New York State Supreme Court, Judge W. Franc Perry will hear arguments in Judicial Watch’s Freedom of Information Law lawsuit against the New York City Police Department in the murder of NYPD Patrolman Phillip Cardillo. The 1972 shooting of Cardillo inside Louis Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam mosque in Harlem is the most notorious cold case in New York history. We told the full story here, and here. It’s an American tragedy, a tale of cover-up and betrayal in an era of dirty tricks and disintegrating cities. No one ever served a day in jail for the crime. A special prosecutor concluded there had been a “concerted and orchestrated effort” by members of the NYPD to impede the investigation. The FBI had informants in the Nation of Islam and information about the case—facts that were not revealed for decades.

Who orchestrated the NYPD cover-up and why? How deeply was the FBI involved in the actions that got Cardillo killed?

In New York, Judicial Watch filed FOIL actions last year seeking case records and a key audio tape in the murder. The NYPD responded with the astonishing claim that, 46 years later, the case is still “active and ongoing,” and thus no documents need be produced.

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Judicial Watch Sues NYPD, FBI for Cardillo Documents

This just in:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: 202-646-5188

January 4, 2018

Judicial Watch Sues DOJ, City of NY and NYPD for Information on Unsolved Murder of a New York Policeman at Nation of Islam Mosque

New York lawsuit refutes NYPD claim that investigation into 45-year-old murder ‘remains active and ongoing’

 FOIA lawsuit raises questions of possible FBI involvement, having provoked incident with fake ‘10-13’ officer in distress phone call

 (Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today that it has filed suit against the Justice Department, as well as the City of New York and the New York Police Department (NYPD), to compel these state and federal agencies to release information regarding the April 14, 1972 murder of police officer Phillip Cardillo at a mosque in Harlem. Cardillo was killed while responding to a fake “10-13” officer in distress phone call.

Judicial Watch filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Department of Justice after it failed to adequately search for records responsive to Judicial Watch’s May 15 FOIA request (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Justice (No. 1:17-cv-024687)). Judicial Watch seeks:

  • All records concerning the Nation of Islam Mosque #7 in Harlem, Manhattan, New York City, or the building located at 102 West 116th Street. This request includes, but is not limited to, all informant, wiretap, electronic surveillance, and physical surveillance records relevant to the Nation of Islam Mosque #7, located at 102 West 116th Street, in New York City.
  • The time frame for the request was identified as January 1, 1970 to January 1, 1973.

Judicial Watch argues that the DOJ “has violated FOIA by failing and/or refusing to employ search methods reasonably likely to lead to the discovery of records responsive to accordingly, failing and/or refusing to produce any and all non-exempt records responsive to the [FOIA] request.”

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Remember Cardillo

On an April morning forty-five years ago, NYPD Patrolman Phillip Cardillo was gunned down in a Nation of Islam mosque in Harlem. He died six days later. New York’s political and police leadership abandoned Cardillo within hours of the shooting. No one was ever convicted of the crime. The case was a sensation back in the day. Does it matter anymore?

It still matters to the Cardillo family, who have endured decades of controversy over the murder. It still matters to the thin blue line in New York, where “Remember Cardillo” became a watchword for a generation of cops, evoking the treason of the brass and the gnawing sense that a cloud of lies and cover-up had descended over the case.

Many details about the death of Cardillo remain hidden in the files of the NYPD and the FBI, but we do know a few things.

We know there was a cover-up.

A special prosecutor assigned to examine the Cardillo case concluded there was an “orchestrated effort” by members of the NYPD “to impede” the probe. The lead detective in the case wrote a scathing memoir, “Circle of Six,” accusing members of the city’s political and police establishment of a “purposeful negligence of duty” in the Cardillo affair. A Judicial Watch investigation unearthed a secret NYPD report containing evidence that was withheld from New York detectives and prosecutors.

Judicial Watch’s investigation also uncovered FBI surveillance reports linked to the main suspect in the murder, a Nation of Islam member known as Lewis 17X Dupree. And we published details of a covert FBI program targeting black radicals believed to be behind the assassination of police officers. Some evidence suggests that the secret, high-stakes Operation Newkill manhunt may have intersected with the Cardillo killing. You can read our investigative report here.

We know that for decades, every attempt to get to the bottom of the Cardillo case has hit the rocks. That includes an initial police investigation, a secret NYPD probe and the special prosecutor inquiry. And more.

Stung by a public outcry after the initial investigation went nowhere, the NYPD tried again. It handed the case to Randy Jurgensen, an NYPD detective highly regarded by his peers. Mr. Jurgensen’s probe was fiercely resisted by NYPD brass, but the headstrong detective persisted. Eventually he found a witness and gathered enough evidence to arrest Mr. Dupree. Mr. Dupree’s first trial resulted in a hung jury. He was acquitted at a second trial. Decades later, trial prosecutors told Judicial Watch they never saw important evidence then in the possession of senior NYPD officials and did not know the FBI had mosque members under surveillance.

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Remembering & Honoring Phil Cardillo

An update from Micah: It was such a pleasure to receive this honor from the Retired Detectives Association of the NYPD in the Bronx on January 13. It meant so much to me and my family. Along with the police brotherhood, and particularly the current and former members of the 2-8 Precinct, we remember and honor Phil Cardillo.

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JUDICIAL WATCH PRESS RELEASE

New York City Retired Detectives Association to Honor Judicial Watch Chief Investigative Reporter Micah Morrison for Investigation of Murder of Police Officer

JANUARY 11, 2016

Morrison’s explosive April New York Post article exposed lurid details about only unsolved police killing in modern NYPD history
   

(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today that on January 13, 2016, the Retired Detectives Association of the New York City Police Department will honor Judicial Watch and Chief Investigative Reporter Micah Morrison for their investigation of one of the most notorious cold cases in New York City’s history: the April 1972 shooting death of New York Police Department Patrolman Phillip Cardillo inside Louis Farrakhan’s Mosque #7 in Harlem.

The murder of Cardillo, quickly tabbed the “Harlem Mosque Incident,” is the only unsolved police killing in modern NYPD history. According to the Retired Detectives Association, Morrison’s probing investigation and revealing April 2015 New York Post article – “Did the FBI Accidentally Kill an NYPD Officer” – “gives new meaning to the words ‘Never Forget.’”

Morrison’s Judicial Watch investigation uncovered significant new documents and leads in the case, including new evidence of the FBI’s role in the 1972 events. According to Morrison’s New York Post news article:

Confidential FBI documents released under the Freedom of Information Act raise questions about the extent of the FBI’s involvement in the Cardillo affair.

One COINTELPRO [FBI’s secret counterintelligence program during the Nixon administration] tactic was the use of anonymous or “pretext” phone calls — FBI agents posing as someone else — to disrupt targeted groups.

A February 1968 COINTELPRO memo from the FBI’s New York field office to headquarters seeks permission to make “anonymous and other pretext phone calls . . . to neutralize and frustrate the activities of these black nationalists.”

The anonymous phone calls could sow dissent (“there’s an informant in your ranks”) or even get the police to conduct raids and break up meetings.

Six targets are noted in the memo. Four of the names have been blacked out by FBI censors.

“Could that fake 10-13 call sending cops to the mosque have been an FBI ‘pretext call’ gone terribly wrong?” asks Jurgensen [NYPD detective in charge of Cardillo investigation]. “Or could the FBI have had a high-level informant inside the mosque who was somehow involved and has been protected all these years? I don’t know. Only the FBI knows. But look at the Whitey Bulger case in Boston — there’s a situation where an individual was both a killer and an FBI informant.”

In a New York Post op-ed immediately following Morrison’s reporting, former prosecutors and detectives associated with the Cardillo case called upon FBI Director James Comey to “right a grievous wrong and make one last effort to find justice for a slain police officer: open the FBI ‘Special File Room and conduct a comprehensive search of all FBI files related” to the Cardillo killing.

Despite such calls, those responsible for Cardillo’s murder continue to evade capture more than four decades later. And the notorious Harlem Mosque Incident has become one of the most controversial cases in NYPD history. It has been described as a tale of betrayal and cover-up, race and politics, played out across what, at the time, was a disintegrating city. [For a full, captivating exposé of the crime and its aftermath, read Judicial Watch’s Investigative Bulletin Killing Cardillo: What Did the FBI Know and When Did They Know It?.”]

“Officer Cardillo’s murder, over 40 years ago, is relevant today, and Judicial Watch is proud that Micah Morrison’s investigative reporting is being recognized by the Retired Detectives Association of the New York City Police Department,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “We are proud of Micah’s tireless investigation, and Judicial Watch joins with New York’s law enforcement community in calling on the FBI to make a thorough search of all its files for informant, wiretap and electronic-surveillance records related to the Cardillo killing.”

The awards banquet at which Judicial Watch and Morrison will be honored will be held at 6:30 on Wednesday, January 13, at Frankie and Johnnies Pine Restaurant in the Bronx. For additional information, call 718-792-595

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Investigative Update: Key Figures Call on FBI Director to Open Cardillo Files

Responding to my stories (below) in the New York Post and on Judicial Watch’s website, four senior law-enforcement  figures in the original Cardillo investigation have called on FBI Director James Comey to open the FBI’s secret files on the case. James Harmon, John Van Lindt, Randy Jurgensen and one NYPD detective who wished to remain anonymous called on Comey “to right a grievous wrong and make one last effort to find justice for a slain police officer.”

“In particular,” they noted, “the FBI should conduct a thorough search of its special file room for all documents pertaining to the Nation of Islam and COINTELPRO, Operation Newkill, the Harlem Mosque Incident and Phillip Cardillo. It should focus on informant, wiretap and electronic-surveillance records. The documents should be provided to the Manhattan DA and made public. Justice however long delayed is still justice.”

The open letter to Director Comey was published in the Post. Read it here.

 

Killing Cardillo: What Did The FBI Know & When Did They Know It?

Yesterday, the New York Post ran my investigative report on a very cold case: the mortal wounding of NYPD Patrolman Phillip Cardillo inside Louis Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam Mosque #7 in Harlem in April, 1972. The “Harlem Mosque Incident” would become one of the most controversial cases in NYPD history—a tale of betrayal and cover-up, race and politics, played out across a disintegrating city.

I’m grateful to the Post for getting behind a story that raises the disturbing possibility that the FBI was deeply involved in the events surrounding Cardillo’s death. Due to space limitations at the newspaper, some of the supporting material had to be cut. Judicial Watch’s Investigative Bulletin is posting the story here in full. If the Post’s terrific version was enough for you, stop here. If you want more—and with apologies for some overlap between the two—read on.

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Did an FBI call accidentally kill an NYPD officer?

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First published in the New York Post, April 19, 2015

Today, the Blue Knights Law Enforcement Motorcycle Club will ride in honor of Phillip Cardillo, an NYPD officer who was killed 43 years ago inside a Harlem mosque. Later this year, it’s expected that the street in front of the new police academy in Queens will be named after Cardillo.

It’s a belated honor for the only unsolved police killing in modern NYPD history — a case, writes investigative reporter Micah Morrison, that may have an unlikely culprit.

At 11:41 am, April 14, 1972, a call came into the NYPD’s communication division.

“Hello, this is Detective Thomas of the 28th Precinct.”

“Yeah.”

“I have a 10-13 West 116th Street.”

“102 West 116th?”

“Right, that’s on the second floor.”

“Second floor?”

“Right”

“Hold on.”

But the caller hung up.

A 10-13 is every cop’s worst nightmare, a red alert meaning “officer in distress.”

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