NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — For the first time, the highest-ranking officer reportedly under investigation in the NYPD corruption scandal has spoken about it.
As CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported, former Chief of Department Philip Banks III has not been charged in the investigation. But he is friends with all the key players.
Banks has appeared in photos with two now-infamous businessmen – Jeremy Reichberg, who is charged with bribing top cops with gifts, trips and the service of a prostitute on a trip to Las Vegas – and Jona Rechnitz, who got a plea deal to testify in a number of the federal corruption cases brought by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.
Rechnitz expected to testify in the bribery kickback trial of Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association President Norman Seabrook, and hedge fund officer Murray Huberfeld. He is also set to testify in the corruption trials of former Deputy Inspector James Grant and former Deputy Chief Michael Harrington.
Banks is friends with them all – Reichberg, Rechnitz, Seabrook, Grant and Harrington, CBS2’s Kramer reported. Harrington worked for Banks when he was chief of department, and Banks also took trips with some of the men and had personal relationships with some of them.
And because of all that, Banks is reportedly being investigated by the feds.
Until now, Banks has kept to himself. But Kramer asked him about it on Monday.
Kramer: “Can we just ask you how you’re feeling about the corruption investigation involving police officers?”
Banks: “What corruption investigation?”
One thing the feds are reportedly looking at are financial disclosure forms filed by banks with the Conflicts of Interest Board. They showed that while Banks, who resigned when he did not get the job of commissioner, got a payment of between $250,000 and $500,000 from JSR Capital.
JSR Capital is Rechnitz’s firm, and the payment came from an investment that Banks made with Rechnitz.
Kramer: “Do you want to comment the fact that there have been rumors about you being investigated?”
Banks: “No comment on that.”
Kramer: “Will you be cooperating with the government?”
Kramer: “How do you feel about Officer Harrington?”
Banks: “No comment. We can go back and forth like this, Marcia, all day long.”
In the federal complaint, there are a number of references to a “Chief 1,” who is believed to be Banks.
The complaint said Reichberg and Rechnitz wanted to cultivate “Chief 1” so they “would have ready access to the highest levels of the NYPD.”