DNAinfo


Murray WeissOn the Inside

May 21, 2014


 

 

De Blasio Aide Did Not Disclose Ex-Con Lover on Background Check: Sources

By Murray Weiss

    
Steve Mack/Getty Images  

First Lady Chirlane McCray announcing the pick of her new chief of staff, Rachel Noerdlinger, with Mayor Bill de Blasio and Al Shaprton on January 20, 2014.

 

MANHATTAN — A top aide to Mayor Bill de Blasio's wife did not disclose on the city's official background check forms that she dates and lives with a convicted killer, in a violation of city regulations, DNAinfo New York has learned.

Rachel Noerdlinger, who makes $170,000 a year as the chief of staff to First Lady Chirlane McCray, omitted from her 43-page Department of Investigation “Background Investigation Questionnaire” before she started her job earlier this year that her boyfriend, Hassaun McFarlan, a convicted killer, lived with her in her Edgewater, N.J., apartment with her teenage son, sources in the mayor's office told “On The Inside.”

The first page of the DOI questionnaire clearly warns in bold-faced capital letters that: “A FALSE STATEMENT OR INTENTIONAL OMISSION . . . MAY RESULT IN THE IMPOSITION OF DISCIPLINARY PENALTIES, INCLUDING TERMINATION OF EMPLOYMENT OR DISQUALIFICATION FROM FUTURE EMPLOYMENT AND, IN ADDITION, MAY SUBJECT YOU TO CRIMINAL PROSECUTION.”

“THIS DEPARTMENT WILL NOT APPROVE YOUR TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF APPOINTMENT IF YOU FAIL TO PROVIDE ALL INFORMATION REQUESTED OR OTHERWISE FAIL TO COOPERATE FULLY,” the warning concludes.

The city requires background checks to ensure that people seeking high level government positions are fully vetted before they are hired, along with their spouses, partners, boyfriends and anyone with whom they live or do business.

The DOI questionnaire contains several clearly defined sections requesting the applicants provide the names of anyone who lives with them. One section even asks for the identities of anyone who might live in any residential property the applicant may own, but does not live in.

De Blasio said last week — following DNAinfo's exclusive story on Noerdlinger's relationship with McFarlan — that he and the First Lady were aware of her romantic relationship and expressed complete confidence in her ability to not be unduly influenced by his opinions.

Phil Walzak, the mayor’s chief spokesman, declined to comment on several days of emails asking about the failure to notify DOI.

Noerdlinger did not respond to an email seeking comment.

A DOI spokesman, citing the agency's privacy policy, refused to discuss any aspect of Noerdlinger’s questionnaire. In an email, the spokesman added, “the official background questionnaire submitted to DOI is confidential and not shared outside DOI.”

Last week, DNAinfo New York exclusively reported that Noerdlinger, the former chief spokeswoman for the Rev. Al Sharpton, was living in New Jersey with McFarlan — who spent six years behind bars after shooting a teen to death over a down coat in 1993.

McFarlan, 36, has been arrested at least five times and was charged as recently as 2013 with using Noerdlinger's car to nearly run over a New Jersey police officer, records show. He spent four years behind bars for interstate drug trafficking in 2005, according to public records.

McFarlan also posted a series of anti-police rants on Facebook in which he referred to NYPD officers as “pigs,” and also reportedly posted offensive misogynist screeds that boasted of his sexual relationship with Noerdlinger and demeaned black women as frigid deadbeats.

Noerdlinger, a public relations professional who once worked for defense attorney Johnnie Cochran, has publicly disavowed her boyfriend’s blog posts and anti-police remarks, and also similar posts that were made by her son, Khari, 17.

But revelations about Noerdlinger's relationship troubled those in the police community, who were concerned about her access to high-level police information after DNAinfo reported exclusively last week that Noerdlinger attended a confidential NYPD Compstat meeting with her boss, First Lady Chirlane McCray.

Patrick Lynch, the police union president, called for an investigation, saying Noerdlinger should be fired if she "intentionally" omitted McFarlan.

"Given her companion's criminal history and his record of hateful posts on social media, it is easy to see why she might intentionally fail to mention that relationship, which would disqualify her from employment," he said. "The standards that apply to police officers should apply to hiring high ranking, influential staff members."

Louis Turco, president of the NYPD Lieutenants Benevolent Association, called for “a full and thorough investigation by all parties to determine if this is true, and appropriate action to be taken.”

The union leader pointed out that police are disciplined for merely associating with a known criminal, but “there is a double-standard" in allowing high-ranking officials to do so without penalty.

A spokesman for the Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance declined comment.

Noerdlinger received a City Hall waiver to live in the Garden State, claiming that moving would disrupt her son’s public school education and that he needed to be close to doctors caring for him after he was involved in two car accidents, sources said.

According to the New York Post, Noerdlinger's son has since fully recovered from the crashes, even playing on his high school's football team last year.