- By Eric Sanders
- In Abuse of State Power, Blog, Civil Rights Law, First Amendment, News, Press Release, Retaliation
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
New York Civil Rights Lawyer Eric Sanders, Esq., alleges in a $35 million dollar Notice of Claim, NYPD Internal Affairs Bureau Sergeant Steven Lee claims retaliation for exposing widespread bribe receiving, receiving unlawful gratuities and other crimes operating within the 109th Precinct and other Asian communities throughout the City of New York
New York, NY, January 24, 2018 – In a filing against the City of New York, NYPD Internal Affairs Bureau Sergeant Steven Lee alleges he has suffered mental anguish, pain, suffering, and loss of promotional opportunities after providing evidence against corrupt members of the department.
According to the claim, Lee alleges the Police Commissioner’s Office through the Internal Affairs Bureau covered up widespread criminal activities to protect corrupt members of the service and the image of the department. More particularly, Lee claims the department intentionally interfered with the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s inquiries about widespread police corruption within the 109th Precinct.
Sometime in July/August 2014, while Lee was assigned to the 109th Precinct, former Special Operations Lieutenant Robert Sung told him he wanted to set up former Commanding Officer Thomas J. Conforti to be falsely accused with raping a p.r. (Public Relations) girl from one of the brothels located within the command to protect his bribe receiving rackets from department scrutiny and as a favor to Jimmy Li, the owner of JJNY Café Inc. and CEO KTV & Café, according to the claim. Lee claims, Jimmy Li paid Sung, former Detective Yatyu Yam and other members of the service protection money. According to the claim, other criminal enterprises engaged in similar conduct with Sung, Yam and other members of the service.
After Conforti notified the Internal Affairs Bureau about Sung’s alleged plan, former Police Commissioner William J. Bratton and Assistant Commissioner Internal Affairs Bureau Joseph J. Reznick assigned Lee to work undercover visiting Asian establishments to gather evidence against Sung. According to the claim, Lee was able to gather significant audio and video evidence against Sung, but also other members of the service including former Patrol Borough Queens North Assistant Chief Diana L. Pizzuti and her driver Detective Robert Young, Lieutenant Cai, among others who were allegedly involved in receiving unlawful gratuities and bribes, drug trafficking and criminal association.
Throughout the investigation, Lee claims he turned over many electronic files and other physical evidence such as United States Currency, Ketamine and other articles to his direct handlers, Lieutenant William J. Seeger and Sergeant Darryl Owens, they told him the “higher ups know about it, but, just focus on Sung.” Lee also claims, he was often told that the evidence which he had recorded was damaged due to “malfunctions” of the devices.
Lee claims, shortly thereafter through Winter 2015, the Internal Affairs Bureau specifically targeted competitors (360 Lounge, LLC, Forbidden City NY Inc., Home Run KTV, Inc., and others) of Jimmy Li with selective malicious enforcement activities under the guise of “Business Inspections” with New York State Liquor Authority Beverage Control Officer Charles Stravalle. According to the claim, Stravalle retired as a Captain with the NYPD and was a colleague of Conforti and Pizzuti. After several “Business Inspections” using Ketamine provided by Jimmy Li, Seeger, Owens, Conforti, Stravalle and other members of the service, “found” Ketamine inside of Home Run KTV. In return for closing down Home Run KTV, Lee claims Jimmy Li paid him $10k. Over the course of the investigation, Lee claims Jimmy Li paid him approximately $20k which was turned over to Seeger and Owens. Shortly thereafter, Forbidden City NY Inc and 360 Lounge, LLC ceased operations and filed a federal lawsuit. The case is pending resolution.
In December 2015, Lee claims in a concerted effort to shutdown widespread corruption allegations against members of the service and protect the image of the department, former Police Commissioner William J. Bratton and Assistant Commissioner Internal Affairs Bureau Joseph J. Reznick ordered the “staged” arrests of Sung and Yam. According to the claim, Jimmy Li attended the Police Commissioner’s Holiday Party, claiming he and former Police Commissioner William J. Bratton are friends.
Shortly thereafter, Lee claims after questioning the integrity of the internal investigation numerous times throughout the assignment, Bratton and Reznick transferred him to a non-investigative track assignment to Internal Affairs Bureau Group No.: 52 (Employee Integrity Testing Unit) under Captain Carolyn Roe. According to the claim, Internal Affairs Bureau Group No.: 52 have its own integrity problems under Roe where members of the service are accused of falsifying business records, false integrity testing, race-based integrity testing, padding overtime, deleting electronic evidence from department devices, etc. Lee claims, Bratton, Reznick and Roe subjected him to numerous bogus internal investigations, ensured he rated 2.5 on his 2016 Annual Performance Evaluation and subsequent other performance evaluations and other actions.
On January 24, 2018, Lee electronically filed his $35 million dollar Notice of Claim with the New York City Comptroller’s Office.
“It’s quite obvious, as alleged in the past, the internal investigation process is designed to protect the department’s image. The NYPD cannot police itself. One day, when the political winds are in the favor of the public, the federal government will finally intervene to clean things up. Until then, the public’s only hope is brave employees like Sergeant Lee,” say Eric Sanders.
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