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The Emery Brouhaha

March 7, 2016

Something bizarre happened a few weeks ago, when a veteran police and court reporter examined a court filing involving Stefon Luckey.

John Marzulli, of the Daily News, recognized Luckey’s name. Luckey had appeared before the Civilian Complaint Review Board last year, when his lawyer, Philip Hines, presented claims against NYPD officers. Hines said cops had beaten his client and that Sgt. Jared Hospedales had improperly pepper-sprayed him after a confrontation in a St. Albans grocery store in 2013.

The CCRB substantiated Luckey’s complaint against Hospedales, then prosecuted him in the NYPD trial room, where he was found guilty.

What Marzulli noticed in Luckey’s court filing was that he had dropped Hines as his attorney and hired the firm of CCRB Chairman Richard Emery, and was now suing the city.

That’s right, readers. The chairman of the CCRB, which prosecuted the sergeant, heads the law firm that is now representing the sergeant’s victim in a lawsuit against the city.

That is known as a conflict of interest, which is why the city has a Conflicts of Interest Board, although it is invariably ineffective. (An exception occurred in 2000 when Rudy Giuliani was mayor. With nudges from this column, which accused it of going into a four-corner stall, the Board fined then-Police Commissioner Howard Safir $7,000 for accepting a free trip to the Academy Awards from the Revlon Corporation.)

Under Mayor Bill de Blasio, the Conflicts of Interest Board saw no conflict in Emery’s actions, and gave him a waiver so that his firm could represent Luckey. De Blasio has said nothing publicly about the matter, other than criticizing Emery for describing the cops as “screaming like a stuck pig.” Indeed, he’s indebted to Emery, who did what the mayor wants. Unlike the Bloomberg administration, where former police commissioner Ray Kelly ignored the CCRB, Emery has not hesitated to go after cops.

(As a matter of full disclosure, Emery’s firm represented me in 2006, when I testified at a post-trial hearing involving Michael Skakel who was convicted of murdering Martha Moxley in Greenwich, Conn.)

Following Marzulli’s revelations, Emery’s firm withdrew from representing Luckey. Meanwhile, the police unions — the PBA and SBA — are howling for his resignation.

In so doing, they’re putting Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, who has also said nothing publicly about the Emery matter, in somewhat of a bind because he hired Emery’s son, a recent Ivy League graduate, who works as a civilian analyst in the office of Intelligence and Counter Terrorism.

The mayor is apparently trying to ride out the Emery storm as he did with Rachel Noerdlinger, his wife’s former chief of staff. Noerdlinger was forced to resign after it was revealed that her son and boyfriend posted anti-police comments online.

Emery has said that neither he nor his firm would represent a client whose complaint is substantiated by the CCRB.  Asked whether he and his firm would give up all clients whose cases were heard by the CCRB, whether or not their claims were substantiated, he emailed, “All while I am Chair.” He added: “Though we are not required to do that.”

. Don’t run for President.

Much of the media has been reporting in logorrheic detail that your rationale as a potential third-party middle-grounder no longer resonates because Hillary Clinton, who shares many of your views, seems headed for the Democratic nomination.

But that’s not why you shouldn’t run. It’s because Donald Trump will kill you on the stump. Not only will you lose. You’ll embarrass yourself — again.

Trump’s a gutter-fighter and you’re not. It’s unclear whether you can take a punch, much less counter-punch or throw a haymaker.

In short, you’re a decent, thoughtful guy who, many New Yorkers feel, did a commendable job as mayor. You never dirtied your hands. You used your billions to insulate yourself and hire people like Police Commissioner Ray Kelly to do the dirty work for you.

That’s why you could look away when Kelly’s Intelligence Division threw a full-court press on the city’s Muslim communities by spying on individuals, their mosques, schools and businesses. Ditto Kelly’s three million stop-and-frisks of mostly young African-American males, the vast majority of whom had committed no crime.

Yet being a billionaire can be a handicap. In your case, Mayor Mike, your money allowed your ego to run wild and made a fool of you, to say nothing of making you out as a hypocrite.

Remember your pledge when you first ran for mayor in 2001? You promised to remain above partisan politics and serve only two terms. Then around 2006, you got the idea that New York City was too small a venue for you and imagined the country needed you as president.

When your balloon failed to lift off, you said you’d be open to vice president. When that fizzled, you broke your pledge and sought a third term as mayor.

You spent a small fortune to overturn New York’s two-term limit law. Then you spent more than $100 million on your mayoral campaign, which made you the largest spender of his own money running for public office in U.S. history.

Yet you barely defeated your little-known opponent, retiring city comptroller, William Thompson.

So here we are again in 2016. You still have time to reconsider. If you want public attention, you’ve got your media company, Bloomberg News, although you’re hardly a crusading journalist.

How sad for you that being a billionaire is such a bore.

“The Big Fear” may or may not be “one of the most truly authentic NYC-set crime suspense novels ever written,” as his publisher claims. Nonetheless, it’s a finely written thriller that will keep readers turning pages. Case was the CCRB’s former spokesman. He knows the police and he knows the territory and mines it deeply.

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Copyright © 2016 Leonard Levitt