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The NYPD Bribery Scandal:

What Comes Next?


July 6, 2016

Who was arrested?


On the morning of June 20, 2016, FBI agents and members of the
NYPDs Internal Affairs Bureau (IAB) arrested Deputy Chief Michael
Harrington and Deputy Inspector James Grant for allegedly accepting
bribes from Jeremy Reichberg, a Brooklyn-based businessman who described himself as a community liaison to the
NYPD. Sergeant David Villanueva and Officer Richard Ochetal of the NYPDs License Division as well as businessman
Alex Lichtenstein were also arrested for a separate bribery scheme involving gun licenses.
What charges have been brought?
Harrington, Grant and Reichberg were each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud.
Villanueva pled not guilty to one count of bribery and one count of conspiracy to commit bribery. Ochetal pled guilty to
one count of bribery and one count of conspiracy to commit bribery and is reportedly serving as a cooperating witness for
the government. Lichtenstein was charged with two counts of bribery and one count of conspiracy to commit bribery.
What are the allegations against the arrested individuals?
In a June 20 complaint by the US Attorneys Office for the Southern District of New York, prosecutors allege that
Reichberg bribed Harrington and Grant with paid trips, jewelry, and cash in exchange for favors that included police
escorts, VIP access to parades, police intervention in private disputes, and erasing tickets for traffic violations and other
infractions. Reichberg also allegedly had significant influence over internal NYPD affairs, including the promotions of
Grant and other officers.
In a separate June 20 indictment, prosecutors allege that Villanueva and Ochetal received cash bribes and other benefits
from Lichtenstein in exchange for using their positions in the License Division to approve and expedite more than 100
gun license applications. Lichtenstein allegedly charged clients thousands of dollars for getting their gun permits approved.
Prosecutors allege that Villanueva and Ochetal approved these applications without conducting required checks and
ignored the red flags raised by the clients criminal and personal histories. The indictment states that the License Division
would have likely rejected the applications of at least some of Lichtensteins clients, had the officers not intervened.
What are the ties to other ongoing investigations?
Reichberg has been linked to businessman Jona Rechnitz in connection with the scheme to bribe NYPD officers.
Rechnitz also recently pled guilty to a separate scheme to conspire to commit honest services wire fraud in a bribery
scheme involving Norman Seabrook, the former president of the Correction Officers Benevolent Association, as
described in a previous What Comes Next brief.
Reichberg and Rechnitz were reportedly large donors to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, including donations to his
mayoral campaign, the Campaign for One New York, and de Blasios effort to benefit Senate Democrats. Both also
served on de Blasios inaugural committee.
What Comes Next?
The U.S. Attorneys Office has developed two cooperating witnesses that have been revealed so far: Businessman Jona
Rechnitz and Police Officer Richard Ochetal. While Ochetals cooperation may begin and end with the License Division
bribery scheme, the authorities are undoubtedly planning that Rechnitz will provide them with investigatory assistance
and, ultimately, testimony, in a number of matters. Already he appears to have been instrumental in the charges revealed
against Norman Seabrook, as well as the separate charges against the NYPD officials and Jeremy Reichberg announced
late last month. And the investigation will surely continue probing the Mayors relationship with the two businessmen,
with Rechnitzs cooperation and Reichbergs arrest creating pressure for Reichberg to sign a cooperation agreement of his
own.