I scored a few inches in the Voice‘s “Best of Civic Life 2016” a while back, but my favorite two bits didn’t make the final cut. Which is what this is for. Enjoy?
You could almost feel the saliva dripping from the tabloids’ pages: the “gangbangers” “ruled the Bronx streets with an iron fist” led the Post; “a legion of 700 law enforcers” scored “the largest number of busts in a single sweep” ever, said the News. The Times piled on: a decade of “wanton violence” was over. It took Simon Davis Cohen, writing for The Nation, to show us what “the single largest takedown in modern New York history” looked like down at street level. A squad of heavily armed NYPD commandos forcing a woman to crawl on all fours down the hallway of her own home. With crime at record lows and the glory days of stopping-and-frisking numbered, Davis Cohen reports the NYPD turned to chasing gangs, despite their low share of criminal activity. The charges look thin given the raid’s scope. The marquee was a 92-year-old woman killed by a stray bullet… seven years ago. A gang member had already plead guilty. RICO allows the government to try him again – his 161.5 year manslaughter conviction seems ‘light’ – and nab dozens of others for the same crime. “They killed the whole neighborhood,” a resident told Davis Cohen. His website Raids of New York looks to be indispensable.
“First of all, the two elves didn’t come for fucking Christmas,” blurted NYPD Deputy Inspector Jimmy Grant. Christmas of 2013 had been a good one for Grant, one of the top cops; the elves had brought his kids a video game console, and his wife got a piece of jewelry worth a cool grand. They also dropped in on then-Deputy Chief Michael Harrington, NYPD Chief of Department Philip Banks’ number two; his kids also scored a PlayBox. The elves in question were Jeremy Reichberg and Jona Rechnitz, two Orthodox Jews who felt the Christmas spirit all year round. From 2012 on they showered Grant and Harrington with gifts: hotel stays, home repairs, Nets and Rangers tickets. The elves rented a private jet and took Grant on an all-expenses paid trip to Vegas for the Super Bowl, prostitute included. Rechnitz took Harrington and Banks to dinner once or twice a week. When Banks promoted Grant to DI, he actually put Reichberg and Rechnitz on the phone to deliver the good news. In the end the elves dropped over a hundred grand on the NYPD brass. In return they got help fixing tickets, occasional police escorts, concealed carry permits, even officers sent to disperse a protest outside a business owned by Reichberg’s associates. But Harrington was shuffled out of the Chief’s office in November 2014 after Banks quit, and perhaps as a result the elves skipped Christmas. “You don’t love me anymore bro,” Grant lamented to Reichberg on the same call he bitched about the elves’ no-show. If only he’d known the wiretap meant he was complaining to the FBI too. But then we wouldn’t know who the best elves were.