April 30th, 2019

Covering Up the “Accident”: Cops and Pols Edition

Mayor de Blasio emerges from a car. Source: Daily News

I knew I’d seen this act before. A routine car collision gets covered up. Why? Because a politician was in the car.

When I first wrote about it 10 years ago it was Jeanine Pirro in the back seat with her then-husband Al Pirro. Their vehicle, owned by Al, sideswiped a motorcycle and the rider was injured.

After seeing who was in the car, the original accident report (more properly called a collision report) was deep-sixed and the Pirro vehicle magically disappeared from the second accident report. The cops called the Harley rider a fraud and listed it as a one-vehicle accident.

Except that someone already had a copy of that first report, and the cops were caught covering up the crash.

Fast forward to this week, and it is Mayor de Blasio in the car with his wife that is involved in a collision, and the story hits the Daily News — four years after it happened.

Apparently, a car veered into his lane and hit the mayoral SUV. I say apparently because that was the lede in the story:

On a Saturday morning in August 2015, Mayor de Blasio was in the back seat of a black NYPD Chevy Tahoe bound for an event in Harlem when a driver changing lanes slammed into his ride.No one was hurt. No big deal, right?

Except that the police decided to cover it up. Instinct perhaps?

Back to the story:

No one was hurt, but the commanding officer of the mayor’s executive protection unit, Howard Redmond, was furious. Text messages obtained by the Daily News show he immediately ordered the incident be covered up to protect de Blasio’s image.

“As per CO [the commanding officer] no one is to know about this,” Sgt. Jerry Ioveno texted members of the unit, referring to Redmond. “Not even the other teams.”

“No one is to know,” he repeated.

Why this would reflect badly on the Mayor is beyond me, even if the Mayor’s driver was at fault. He, after all, was a passenger.

But the NYPD was worried about optics. If there are bad optics, then yeah, maybe it does reflect badly. On the NYPD. And its driver. If the NYPD driver was actually the one at fault.

But the story just gets weirder:

Redmond allegedly ordered that the cop behind the wheel, Detective Edgar Robles, be officially listed as the driver of a backup SUV, text messages show. That way, the unit could more plausibly claim the mayor wasn’t in the vehicle involved in the collision, a source close to the executive protection unit said.

Then, buried down further in the article, it hits: It was the NYPD at fault. Not the other driver:

NYPD spokesman Phil Walzak told The News that the NYPD investigated the accident involving de Blasio’s SUV “and determined the NYPD was at fault. Far from a coverup, this in fact shows the exact opposite – the NYPD took this incident seriously.”

The text messages are almost comical in their ham-handed way of covering up the crash — successfully for years. Some of the texts:

“Is Eagle p—-d?” Ioveno asked in a text message, using de Blasio’s code name.
“Not really,” a detective wrote.

“Redmond hell-bent that this doesn’t get out to anyone, we need to kill the story,” executive protection unit cop Jorge Bravo wrote.

“He went off on OPTICS of this detail – the little things (double-parking and crosswalk s–t),” Bravo added…

“No one is to know; also, Eagle was not in the limo … are we clear guys please?” Ioveno said, using the code word limo for the NYPD Chevy Tahoe.

And then came a second crash, this one involving city First Lady Chirlane McCray, multiple vehicles and disappearing witnesses. And in this crash, someone was hurt.

The NYPD went all in, it seems, on trying to cover this one up also. As per one of the attorneys involved:

“The way the police report is written, you can kind of tell they’re covering something up,” Grossman said. “If you see the diagram — it doesn’t make sense. … They seemed to whisk everybody away without anybody saying anything.”

And so it goes. Negligence happens and those who are supposed to document what happens decide to come up with “alternative facts” and hide the witnesses so that innocent victims are frustrated in their ability to find out what actually happened.

The more the world changes, the more it stays the same. Except that sometimes emails and texts help with the Big Reveal.


July 21st, 2008

Al Pirro Settles NY Car “Accident” Suit Involving Jeanine For 200K

Al Pirro Jr. last week quietly settled a lawsuit for $200,000 that involved Jeanine Pirro and her failed political campaign for Attorney General. Jeanine — also a former judge, District Attorney, failed Senate candidate against Hillary Clinton and now a talk show host — was in the backseat of her husband’s SUV on October 18, 2006 when it sideswiped a motorcyclist as they approached a light. The collision knocked him down, broke his ankle and sent him skidding along the pavement. The SUV was driven by a campaign staffer just weeks before the election.

The crash out on Long Island raised eyebrows when the police were accused of giving preferential treatment to the Pirros. While the officer on the scene first reported a collision between Pirro’s SUV and Scott Lieberman riding his Harley, that report was subsequently deep-sixed after the officer saw Jeanine Pirro in the back and saw that the SUV was owned by her husband. The second accident report didn’t have the Pirro vehicle in the accident. According to this New York Post story at the time:

Lieberman said that after talking to [Pirro driver] Horgan, cops stopped writing a two-vehicle accident report and started one saying he skidded off the road on his own.
“Investigation reveals no other veh. involved in accident,” the final report reads.

According to an interview I conducted with Lieberman’s counsel, Harlan Wittenstein, a copy of the original police report indicating a collision was given to Lieberman’s ex-girlfriend who had been riding ahead and saw the accident in her rear-view mirror as she pulled up to a stop light. The original report clearly has Al Pirro’s name on it as the vehicle owner. The subsequent police report only claimed a motorcyclist down with no contact and no Pirro name. The two reports are here: Lieberman.pdf

After learning the Pirros were involved, the police accused Lieberman of being a fraud as he was writhing in agony. Lieberman, who was taken to the hospital and needed surgery to fix his broken ankle, didn’t take kindly to the accusation.

After leaving the hospital, an angered Lieberman posted signs at the intersection where the collision occurred, whichwere seen by a pretzel delivery man on his regular route. The pretzel man had been directly behind the vehicles, saw the contact between the Pirro SUV as it changed lanes, contacted Lieberman, and his deposition taken.

The combination of the pretzel man’s testimony and the second copy of the accident report with the Pirro name on it, according to Wittenstein, helped to seal a settlement for a case that had originally been marked “no pay.” The police officer has apparently never been disciplined.

Al Pirro — a disbarred real estate attorney who was convicted of 66 counts of tax fraud, whose license has been suspended (and reinstated), has been embroiled in head-line grabbing extramarital affairs, and generally been a burden to his wife’s ambitions — is no doubt happy to get at least one legal problem behind him.

Photo credit: NY Magazine (story on the troubled marriage)


  • What Happens When You’re Run Down by Former DA Pirro? (Greenfield @ Simple Justice)