New York Daily News

September 14, 2011


 

Cop probed in ticket-fixing tried to commit suicide in subway ahead of being called to the stand

BY ROCCO PARASCANDOLA, BOB KAPPSTATTER AND TRACY CONNOR
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITERS

Despondent after testifying in the NYPD ticket-fix probe, a veteran Bronx cop tried to kill himself Wednesday by grabbing a subway third rail, sources said.

Officer Robert McGee, 62, already had been stripped of his gun because superiors feared he might harm himself over the scandal that has ensnared dozens of cops, a police source said.

McGee, a well-liked union delegate assigned to the 43rd Precinct, was grilled before a Bronx grand jury last week.

Though not a target of the criminal probe, he was distraught at the prospect of taking the witness stand against fellow cops at a trial, sources said.

"He's been stressed out by this for months," one police source said.

His torment came to a head around 4 a.m. Wednesday, when he bolted from his Riverdale apartment, prompting his worried wife to dial 911 and say he was suicidal, one police source said.

Cops were searching for him in Van Cortlandt Park when another 911 call came in, reporting a man on the tracks at the 238th St. subway station in Riverdale, the source said.

Officers arriving at the No. 1 station found McGee there with a burned hand, covered in dirt from being on the tracks.

Investigators believe he touched the third rail - which carries 700 volts and 10,000 amps - in a failed attempt to electrocute himself, a police source said. "He's very lucky. I would say he's 100% lucky," a veteran transit worker said. "Usually, people who hit the third rail don't survive."

McGee was being treated at North Central Bronx Hospital, where he was surrounded by family. He declined to talk to a reporter.

An NYPD spokesman had no comment, but Patrolmen's Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch said the summons probe has been dragged out and marred by leaks.

"It is no surprise that New York City police officers have reached a breaking point," Lynch said. "This issue could have and should have been addressed differently.

"Police Officer McGee has served this city well for over three decades and is a man of honesty and integrity, and he and others deserve better than this."

The Bronx district attorney's office, which is leading the investigation, declined to comment.

McGee tried to retire in March, but was not allowed to submit the paperwork because his name had come up about 10 times in the wide-ranging ticket-fix probe, a police source said. "He was always very nervous and very stressed out by this - more than anyone else," the source said.

McGee was given immunity to testify before a grand jury.

The panel is set to vote on possibly bribery or misconduct charges against more than a dozen cops suspected of breaking the law by fixing traffic tickets for relatives, friends or profit.

McGee gave wrenching testimony for four hours in secret last week that one source told The News "didn't come easy for him. He had a hard time getting through it."

The officer, who allegedly fixed about a dozen tickets, was told to be ready to testify again at a trial, sources said.

Investigators had been worried about McGee all day yesterday.

"If he lost his life, it would have been completely devastating to [the Bronx DA's office and NYPD internal affairs]," the source said.

With Kevin Deutsch and Sarah Armaghan

rkappstatter@nydailynews.com