New York Post
Oct. 29, 2011

Cops protest outside courthouse as 21 indicted in 'tix-fix' scandal


A furious mob of cops swarmed a Bronx courthouse yesterday in a massive show of support for their 16 embattled brothers in blue as the district attorney finally dropped the hammer on the sweeping ticket-fixing scandal.

The indicted 16 cops and five civilians all pleaded not guilty to a slew of charges that ranged from making tickets disappear to burying felonies.

As the drama played out inside the packed courtroom, hundreds of officers outside rationalized the cops' alleged criminal behavior -- chanting and holding signs that read, "It's a courtesy not a crime!"

One sign quoted Mayor Bloomberg as saying, "It's been going on since the days of the Egyptians."

In unsealing a sweeping indictment, DA Robert Johnson laid out the sordid charges stemming from the widespread three-year investigation. In the case:

* Prosecutors filed nearly 1,600 criminal charges stemming from nearly 300 ticket-fixing cases.

* The indictments accuse cops of a barrage of felonies, including forgery, conspiracy, tampering with public records and official misconduct.

* The Internal Affairs Bureau probe snared two sergeants and a lieutenant, as well as 10 union officials accused of essentially serving as ticket-fixing liaisons.

* The cops cost the city between $1 million and $2 million in potential revenue from paid tickets.

Despite the damning evidence mounted against the cops, the protesting officers outside -- led by union officials -- lashed out at the NYPD for starting the probe and blasted Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and Bloomberg as "hypocrites."

Noting that fixing tickets has been "accepted at all lengths for decades," Patrolmen's Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch said the nearly 500 protesting cops showed up because "the fact that a courtesy has now turned into a crime [is] wrong."

Kelly was quick to fire back, saying: "Those who try to rationalize [these crimes] are kidding themselves. These misdeeds tarnish the good name of police officers."

Prosecutors said the systemic practice of making tickets go away was carried out in several ways.

Officers would either physically remove tickets from the precinct station house after they'd been written or doctor them so the tickets would be dismissed.

In other cases, the cops would call officers who had written the summonses and tell them to lie under oath so that the cases would be dismissed, Johnson said.

The first cop arraigned yesterday was José Ramos, the 19-year veteran who sparked the entire probe because of his reputed ties to Bronx drug dealer Lee King.