By Zachary D. Roberts
By Anna Merlan
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By Albert Samaha
By Amanda Dingyuan
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A 1996 investigation that cleared former New York Police Department chief Louis Anemone of corruption charges consisted of a 10-minute quickie quiz administered by Anemone's pal, then internal affairs head Patrick Kelleher.
The Voicehas obtained a copy of the March 14, 1996, recorded interview with Anemone that Kelleher, now deputy commissioner, dubbed "an official department investigation." In fact it was a one-on-one with Anemonea seemingly done deal, which the department subsequently sealed, telling the Voicein 1997 that it would never be made public.
Sergeant Andrew McInnis, a department spokesman, defended the closed-door session, saying, "This is not unusual."
Anemone, 53, who had been with the NYPD for 34 years, allegedly was forced out last July by Police Commissioner Howard Safir, who reportedly ignored Anemone and left him out of key decisions. But Anemone's departure may have a lot to do with long-standing rumors that he accepted and solicited bribes from criminals while he was commanding officer of the 32nd Precinct in Harlem. Former police officer William L. Acosta first claimed in "Tarnished Badge" (Voice, May 20, 1997) that he learned of the payoffs from contacts on the street, as well as fellow officers. His complaint to Internal Affairs prompted the investigation that exonerated Anemone.
In a classic example of top department brass policing their own, Kelleher began the 1996 probe by noting that Anemone had opted to answer questions without the assistance of an attorney. He asked Anemone to respond to two allegations: (1) that in 1988, while on duty in Harlem, Anemone had removed an "undetermined amount" of cash from a man dying of a gunshot wound, and (2) that when Anemone was a sergeant at the 32nd Precinct station house, he had solicited bribes from numbers runners and other gamblers in exchange for looking the other way.
Kelleher's softball interrogationconjuring up the laid-back style of a Charlie Rose interviewelicited evasive answers from the mild-mannered Anemone, who was not confronted with meaningful follow-up questions about illicit activities inside the 32nd Precinct, where supervision was lax and temptations abundant. Listening to the tape, one almost expects Kelleher to ask his friend, "Is that your final answer?"
KELLEHER: Within the 3-2 Precinct how would you describe the gambling problems, if any, and what enforcement was taken . . . during your tenure as a sergeant, and later as a captain, and deputy inspector?
ANEMONE: During, I guess all three of those descriptionsas a sergeant, captain, deputy inspectorgambling enforcement was really the domain of the Police Morals Division, and if we had complaints from the public or requests from the public about them, we'd turn that information over to Public Morals for action.
KELLEHER: At that time did you have any specific procedures for uniform personnel to respond to gambling?
ANEMONE: No, just whatever was in the Patrol Guide. That's it.
KELLEHER: Then in fact Public Morals assume most of the gambling enforcement?
ANEMONE: Yes, they do.
KELLEHER: During the time you were assigned there, did the 3-2 Precinct or 3-2 Precinct personnel become actively involved in gambling enforcement?
ANEMONE: No, they did not.
Although as a rising law-enforcement star in Harlem, Anemone must have been aware of key figures associated with illegal gambling, he told Kelleher only one such suspect, Tommy Green, came to mind. Anemone said Green was a numbers kingpin, and that the reason he remembered Green was because he'd busted a cop on "an allegation of improper conduct" for associating with Green. Kelleher never asked Anemone to identify the officer or delved into the outcome of the allegation. Green could not be contacted.
Kelleher then asked Anemone if he was familiar with the Florence E. Browne Funeral Home at 436 Lenox Avenue. Anemone said he was not.
KELLEHER: Do you have occasion to recall ever entering a funeral home at that particular location?
ANEMONE: I, I really don't know.
KELLEHER: Or telephone that location?
KELLEHER: Were you then or are you now familiar with the owners or operators of that particular funeral home?
ANEMONE: I don't believe so.
KELLEHER: Although you indicated that you are not familiar with this, do you recall . . . that a funeral home on 131st Street was involved in illegal activity?
KELLEHER: Were the owners of a funeral home at that location . . . specifically named Browne, involved in community affairs within the precinct?
A spokesperson for the Florence E. Browne Funeral Home, who asked not to be identified, denies that anyone associated with the mortuary has ever engaged in wrongdoing.
At this point in the interview, Kelleher suddenly brought up the name of former police officer Roosevelt Pickett, whom Anemone knew.
KELLEHER: Can you describe Pickett and please explain any interactions you may have had with him?
ANEMONE: Uh, he was a, uh, male black. I think he [is] retired from the police department now. My interactions with him were the normal ones of a sergeant/supervisor. He was still there when I, uh, came back as the executive officer, and he was in the precinct again when I returned as the commandingofficer. . . . He had diabetes, and as a result he had to, uh, leave the command."
KELLEHER: Do you recall when that was?