Family faces another probe
November 18, 1996
Charles Luisi Sr., the police inspector under investigation for allegedly accepting thousands of dollars of freebies from a professional gun dealer, isn't the only Luisi under suspicion.
Law-enforcement sources say federal authorities are investigating his son's possible involvement in a botched armored car robbery.
Lt. Charles Luisi Jr., of the Bronx' 52nd Precinct, was moonlighting for the Hudson Armored Car and Courier Service of Westchester when the stickup occurred on June 10 in suburban Elmsford. No money was taken but another guard with Luisi was wounded with his own weapon.
Luisi's lawyer David Breitbart termed Luisi and his dad "scapegoats" and says both are being framed. Breitbart also represents the gun dealer, Michael Zerin.
A law enforcement official says questions about Luisi Jr.'s possible involvement arose because of discrepancies about the number of perps involved and because Luisi left Hudson immediately after the stickup.
"There is an ongoing investigation" of the incident, says FBI Special Agent Jim Margolin.
Luisi acknowledged quitting Hudson after the stickup. "Suffice it to say that wasn't a pleasant experience," he said. He says he always maintained he'd seen three perps. "My partner was in the truck and saw only one guy. I was outside and saw three people, so far as I could tell."
Attorney Breitbart accused the FBI of "gestapo tactics."
"He's the victim of a crime. He came forward. He took a lie detector test. They questioned him in a rude, improper fashion. He wasn't treated with the respect due a New York City police officer."
Because of the FBI's treatment, Breitbart says Luisi visited the NYPD's Internal Affairs Bureau. "He didn't hide anything," Breitbart said. Soon after IAB's interview, the department promoted Luisi, then a sergeant, to lieutenant.
Meanwhile, state and federal prosecutors are investigating his dad, Deputy Insp. Charles Luisi Sr., for allegedly accepting thousands of dollars in free vacations from Zerin, a professional gun dealer with ties to top NYPD officials. One is Luisi, whom Zerin has described as "a father figure."
Luisi Sr. exercised his right against self-incrimination during Zerin's recent civil trial, a case in which Zerin's former lover, Stacey Miller, a self-described $400-an-hour "escort," sued him for bigamy, harsassment, fraud, assault and forced imprisonment.
When asked about the freebies, Luisi took The Fifth seven times.
After Miller walked out on Zerin, Luisi informed Insp. Daniel Mullin of the Manhattan DA's squad of Miller's alleged prostitution but omitted mentioning her relationship to Zerin, Mullin said. The DA then began an investigation into the Crown Club, where Miller worked. After two detectives brought her in for questioning, Miller charged she was held involuntarily for seven hours.
The DA has now begun investigating Luisi, who, Mullin charges, misled him. The DA has also begun investigating Mullin's actions and those of its squad detectives concerning Miller's charges of forced imprisonment.
In the past two weeks, the following has occurred:
After a year-long investigation, the DA made its only arrest in the Crown case, charging its alleged madam Susan Keller with prostitution.
The NYPD transferred Sgt. John Mullaly from the DA's squad. Mullaly was one of the detectives Miller charged held her against her will.
Last Wednesday detectives from the NYPD's pistol licensing division raided Zerin's gun shop across from City Hall, confiscating a number of assault weapons.
Final footnote. Luisi Sr. filed for retirement two weeks ago and is seeking a line-of-duty disability pension that would pay him about $50,000-a-year, tax-free. The department's medical board approved him. But because its doctors haven't been paid, they've refused to sign the medical minutes.
Seen: First Deputy Commissioner Tosano Simonetti, his face contorted in silent agony when asked about his cursing out a city official during the Yankees ticker-tape parade.
Heard: Catcalls by so many cops during a videotape of Simonetti, Commissoner Howard Safir and Chief of Department Louis Anemone explaining Safir's Courtesy, Professionalism and Respect Committee that organizers nearly shut off the video.
Unseen: Commissioner Safir, traveling to the Dominican Republic; Sioux Falls, S.D.; and Hollywood, Calif., where he appeared on the television program NYPD Blue. While trying to fill ex-commissioner Bill Bratton's shoes, he is unwittingly filling ex-commissioner Lee (Out of Town) Brown's.
Email Leonard Levitt at firstname.lastname@example.org
© 1996 Newsday, Inc. Reprinted with permission.