NEW YORK, June 20 (UPI) -- Four officers with the New York City Police Department and two businessmen were charged in a federal corruption probe, according to court records unsealed Monday.
The officers include Deputy Chief Michael Harrington, 50, Deputy Inspector James Grant, 43, and Sgt. David Villanueva, 42, all high-ranking members of the police force, and Officer Richard Ochetal, who previously pleaded guilty to bribery charges in the investigation. The two businessmen identified in the court papers are Jeremy Reichberg, 42, and Alex Lichtenstein. A third, Jona Rechnitz, 33, pleaded guilty to bribery and has been cooperating with authorities.
The complaint alleges that Harrington and Grant accepted gifts, including expensive meals, free overseas trips and a trip by executive jet to the Super Bowl in 2013, accompanied by a prostitute. Villenueva and Ochetal also allegedly took bribes to expedite gun permits for Lichtenstein. It mentions Grant's receipt of a $3,000 watch, a trip to Rome, several home remodeling projects and Christmas gifts for his family. In exchange, the officers provided favorable treatment and services, including an instance in which a lane of the Lincoln Tunnel leading into Manhattan was shut down so the businessmen could impress a foreign entrepreneur. Harrington was also accused of receiving free meals, one or two per week at a cost of about $500 per meal, from Rechnitz.
Grant and Harrington were implicated in the corruption probe earlier this year. Both subsequently applied for retirement.
The charges are part of wider probe by federal prosecutors and the FBI focusing on police supervisors and whether they engaged in services like police escorts, fixing traffic tickets or shutting down streets for private events. Reichberg and Rechnitz have been generous supporters of New York Mayor Bill de Blasio. Rechnitz was the target of a fundraising investigation until he pleaded guilty to corruption charges several weeks ago.
The alleged crimes were uncovered in a series of fundraising investigations of de Blasio and his advisers, although there has been no suggestion the mayor was involved in the charges brought Monday.