The Trouble With Harry

Pataki’s Wannabe Cop Gets Nailed

"Right away I was being stonewalled," Ingrassia said. When she kept insisting, Ingrassia said she was told by an aide to the sheriff to back off.

Ingrassia took her concerns to Spitzer's office. Separately, the state inspector general issued its own report. In January 1999, Ryttenberg resigned as an Orange County deputy and surrendered his pistols, citing "health problems." Two months later, he quietly resigned his DHCR post. He worked briefly at WNBC-TV, but lost that job as well after the inspector general's report surfaced.

Spitzer's lawsuit is seeking restitution of $117,000 he says was defrauded from the reservists foundation, and $1 million in punitive damages from Ryttenberg and two other foundation directors. The Orange County District Attorney is reviewing the case for possible criminal prosecution.

The Deputy: Ex–Pataki spokesman Harry Ryttenberg stands accused of embezzling from a fund for Orange County volunteer deputy sheriffs and improper roadside stops of female motorists.
photo courtesy of Jeff Goulding/Times Herald-Record
The Deputy: Ex–Pataki spokesman Harry Ryttenberg stands accused of embezzling from a fund for Orange County volunteer deputy sheriffs and improper roadside stops of female motorists.

Ryttenberg adamantly denies taking money but declined to discuss specifics. "I look forward to my day in court to prove my innocence," he said.

The news business seems divided on Ryttenberg and his strange behavior. Some see him as just a well-meaning gasbag who got in trouble because of his cop infatuation. "He just liked having those lights and sirens," said one friend. Others view him as substantially more venal. "He's just sleazy," said a public relations professional. "A faker and a braggart with the gift of gab who somehow always got away with it."

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