April 1, 2004

NYPD's precinct paper chase

Probe at 112th

By Rocco Parascandola and Leonard Levitt Staff Writers

The NYPD is investigating a Queens precinct for allegedly doctoring paperwork to make the crime rate appear lower, Newsday has learned.

About 120 reports have been pulled from the 112th Precinct in recent weeks - with up to 1,000 expected to be reviewed - and a sergeant and an administrative aide have been questioned at an internal hearing, police sources said yesterday.

A civilian administrative aide also has been questioned, the sources said.

The probe began after a woman filed a larceny complaint at the precinct, then tried to follow up, only to learn the complaint could not be found, the sources said. She told a relative, a police inspector, who contacted the Quality Assurance Division, which investigates allegations involving crime reports, the sources said.

The disclosure follows a Newsday report calling into question how certain crimes were classified in the 50th Precinct. It also comes as the officers and sergeants unions have publicly accused the department of pressuring precinct commanders to change felonies to misdemeanors to avoid an uptick in the crime rate.

"This is one more in a list of precincts where this is happening," Pat Lynch, head of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, said yesterday. "Now that the story has gone public, more and more of these incidents are being presented to us."

Police sources said the investigation into the 112th Precinct is focused on the end of last year, when Capt. Charles Stravalle ran the precinct, which covers Forest Hills and Rego Park.

Last year, crime in the precinct dropped 12.2 percent. This year, with Stravalle running the department's Domestic Violence Unit, crime is up 11.8 percent.

It was not clear if investigators believe Stravalle was involved in fudging any reports, nor was it clear if his transfer was related to the probe.

"I'm unaware of any discrepancies," Stravalle, a 19-year veteran, said. "I'm unaware of any investigation."

Sources familiar with the investigation say it appears a number of grand larcenies, one of the seven index felonies that comprise the crime rate, were reclassified as misdemeanors.

One complaint deals with a June 2003 incident in which a woman told the precinct that someone had used her credit card at Sears.

The complaint shows the incident was originally classified as a grand larceny, but was later reclassified as insurance fraud-criminal impersonation.

The amount of the goods purchased was crossed out, with the writer explaining that the complainant did not suffer a loss.

Another complaint, about a stolen bicycle, shows the crime changed from grand larceny to petty larceny. The writer indicates the value at the time of the report was undetermined.

Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne, the NYPD's chief spokesman, said the probe is bigger in scope than a routine audit, which typically involves reviewing 200 to 300 reports.

"Based on what [quality assurance] finds it will do a further investigation, including interviews of complainants," he said.

Sources say that Sgt. John Morano, who works in the precinct's Crime Analysis Unit, has been interviewed at a departmental hearing.

Morano did not respond to a request for comment, but Sergeant's Benevolent Association president Ed Mullins said Morano is "one of the good guys."

"They are trying to put it on him and save the captain," Mullins said. "[Morano] is a small fish in a big ocean."

Also questioned by investigators so far is Carlita Reynolds, an administrative aide, sources said. She would not comment when contacted yesterday.