- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 14, 2016

Two members of the New York Police Department pleaded not guilty in federal court Wednesday to charges related to what prosecutors have pegged as a corruption case that allegedly allowed local businessmen to pay for a “private police force.”

NYPD Deputy Chief Michael Harrington and Deputy Inspector James Grant entered their pleas in response to charges of conspiracy and other counts announced last month following a years-long investigation conducted by the FBI.

Prosecutors said the two cops took more than $100,000 worth of bribes from local businessmen, and in return provided personal police escorts and other special treatment on an “as needed basis,” according to the criminal complaint unsealed last month.

One of the businessmen, Jeremy Reichberg, pleaded not guilty as well Wednesday. A second man, financier Jona Rechnitz, previously pleaded guilty and has been cooperating with authorities.

According to investigators, the two men showered police with presents such as private trips, expensive jewelry and, in one instance, a hired prostitute.

Prosecutors said the cops reciprocated by providing “police on-call,” including one instance where a portion of the Lincoln Tunnel was briefly shut down so that a visiting businessman could enter the city without incident.

John Meringolo, an attorney for Mr. Grant, told reporters Wednesday that he doubts federal prosecutors will prevail.

“We feel the government will have a very, very hard time proving this case,” Mr. Meringolo told The New York Times, later equating his client’s alleged actions with the same, unintentional conduct exhibited by presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton with respect to her use of a personal email server while serving as secretary of state.

“She was unaware that she was committing any crimes,” he said. “Here, there are no crimes whatsoever.”

“I think my client wants to have his day in court,” he added. “And we take the position that we will be exonerated at trial.”

The two cops and Mr. Reichberg were initially charged with conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud when details about the investigation were first unsealed last month, but have since been indicted on charges of honest services wire fraud and conspiracy to pay and receive bribes, among other offenses, The Times reported Wednesday. All three are scheduled to appear back in court on Tuesday.


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