- The Washington Times - Friday, May 18, 2001

FBI agents yesterday seized documents, financial records and equipment from the D.C. police union office as part of its investigation into misuse of the organizations funds by current and former officials, law enforcement sources said.
Federal agents arrived with a search warrant at the office of the Fraternal Order of Police/Metropolitan Police Labor Committee at 1524 Pennsylvania Ave. SE yesterday morning before anyone else had arrived, sources familiar with the investigation said.
The agents focused on the office of union Treasurer Tyrone Best, who is an officer in the Metropolitan Police Departments 6th District, and confiscated files and equipment, the sources said.
The raid comes after federal authorities deepened the probe into who spent as much as $80,000 in union money on items such as a stay at a "couples-only" resort in Pennsylvania, a $300 pair of shoes, art and other items unrelated to official business, as The Times first reported in December.
Prosecutors with the U.S. Attorneys Office for the District in the last few weeks have subpoenaed more records from the labor committee office, the sources said.
The criminal probes focus has been on former labor committee Chairman Frank Tracy and union officials who served with him and were re-elected in August when he lost a re-election bid to Sgt. Gerald G. Neill, sources have told The Times.
Mr. Tracy now works on old homicide cases as a consultant to the Metropolitan Police Department.
Other officials being investigated include Officer Best and Detective Renee Holden, who was secretary for Mr. Tracy and now serves as vice chairman of the committee, said the sources, who added that there could be other subjects. As treasurer for two terms, Officer Best has had open access to union funds and has come under increased scrutiny lately, the sources said.
The probe includes not only the irregular purchases, but also the purchase of several thousand dollars worth of computers and related equipment from area Circuit City stores, according to sources and documents.
Those computers were not in the labor committees office when Sgt. Neill took over, the sources said.
The officials under investigation have been repaying money — about $8,000 — to the labor committee, sources familiar with the case said yesterday.
A spokesman for the FBIs Washington Field Office last night said he could not comment on the matter.
Sgt. Neill, chairman of the labor committee, last night said, "We are cooperating with the investigation and hope it moves forward as quickly as possible so we can give the best service possible to the members.
"The goal is to provide the exceptional service to the members. Weve been successful on some issues, but would liked to do better," Sgt. Neill said.
The investigation began in November after an internal audit noted a number of financial irregularities, such as a lack of documentation and receipts from cash and credit-card purchases, according to a copy of the May & Barnhard accounting firm audit obtained by The Times.
Sgt. Neill then brought the problems to the attention of the D.C. police internal-affairs unit, which notified prosecutors and the FBI, federal law enforcement sources told The Times.
The fracas has split the unions leadership and sparked a flurry of legal wrangling.
Whats more, Mr. Tracy is suing Sgt. Neill for defamation.
Ted Williams, who has been the labor committees legal counsel, obtained a restraining order barring the union from using a new attorney. And Mr. Williams is suing Sgt. Neill and others for breach of contract.
Attorney John Berry, who is representing Sgt. Neill, yesterday said he will argue in court that the membership of the union should vote on legal counsel.
Mr. Williams argument, according to Mr. Berry, is that the unions executive committee should select the attorney.
The president of the D.C. Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police, which includes the D.C. police labor committee, issued a warning after The Times called for comment.
Lt. Lou Cannon of the U.S. Mint Police said of the officers: "If in fact we find these allegations to be true, were going to come after you and youre going to suffer the severest consequences."
Mr. Tracy did not return a message from The Times left on his cellular telephone last night.
Attempts to reach Officer Best were unsuccessful. The Times was referred by the 6th Districts front desk to another phone number. A sergeant at that phone said Officer Best had left for the day, but said he would leave a message for him to call The Times.


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