A Dirty Cop at the Top

Pataki's Police Czar Penetrates Federal Probe of Gov's Campaign

No Bad Deed Goes Unrewarded

But Wiese's inside track on the probe—with Yoo, Donahue, and Travis behaving as if they'd been tipped off—had finally come to an end. Incredibly, on September 18, 1997, the day after Wiese first visited Allee and penetrated the parole probe, he was given a $7,136 salary hike retroactive to April. That February, New York Post reporter Fred Dicker exposed a $7,793 raise that Wiese had received in November 1996, when "Pataki was insisting that neither he nor his aides deserved a pay hike" because of the state's fiscal crisis. Dicker depicted Wiese as "the real power" in the state police, describing the superintendent as "a figurehead" forced to grant the raise.

The governor and his good friend Dan Wiese (right)
photo: Alan Solomon
The governor and his good friend Dan Wiese (right)

Wiese's attorneys tried to keep him out of the grand jury by offering to write a letter saying he would take the Fifth, but the prosecutors insisted he appear. He did, taking the Fifth on key questions. The government refused to immunize him, but eventually decided not to indict him. Documents obtained by the Voice reveal that numerous state police officials close to Wiese were put in the grand jury and one state police source said everyone there "knew about Wiese's problem." Neither Wiese, the Power Authority, nor the state police would answer questions about how he gained promotions and his new position despite asserting his self-incrimination rights, which, under state law, can cost law enforcement officials their jobs.

Other high state officials, such as Cohen, who took the Fifth and was immunized, were demoted, though a parole spokesman declined to say why. Instead, Wiese was even granted a special retiree waiver by Pataki officials to take his current Power Authority post, though legally mandated advertising requirements were evaded. His controversial appointment became the subject of a September hearing chaired by the authorities-committee head, Assemblyman Richard Brodsky.

NYPD officials say Allee behaved "like a bull in a china shop" but did nothing wrong, and Curitore was, according to the mayor's office, cleared of any wrongdoing by an internal NYPD probe. Curitore was hired at City Hall by Community Affairs Commissioner Jonathan Greenspun, the highest ranking former Pataki aide in the Bloomberg administration and onetime deputy to Jeff Weisenfeld, the contact man for Donahue inside Pataki's office who repeatedly tried to aid the Korean paroles. A minor figure in the parole probe, Greenspun briefly appeared before the grand jury, but insists now that he never knew of Curitore's involvement with the probe. Curitore refused, through Bloomberg's press office, to answer a single question about Wiese.

Yoo wound up convicted in this and another case involving illegal contributions to the man who brought him into the Pataki circle, Al D'Amato. Donahue, formally named an unindicted co-conspirator by the judge at Yoo's trial and a defense witness for Yoo, is still running the Pataki finance committee with Blaney, and the two also recently ran a multimillion-dollar, Pataki-sponsored fundraiser for the Bush campaign.

Pataki stuck with Travis even when one of his 2002 opponents, Tom Golisano, aired high-priced television commercials assailing the governor for retaining in such an important law enforcement post someone who, like Donahue, was also fingered as an unindicted co-conspirator. Finally, a month ago, Pataki announced that Travis was stepping down at Parole to take a $10,000 raise and a new position as the $130,000-a-year deputy superintendent of the State Insurance Department, where, like Wiese, he has a terrorism- and preparedness-related responsibility. Pataki himself is of course preparing, at least in his own mind, for a 2008 national run, having cajoled the Bush White House into installing his choice as the new U.S. Attorney in Brooklyn.

George Slater retired from the police department in 2002 as a third-grade detective, without receiving a single promotion after spearheading an explosive probe of what the Post has branded the state's most corrupt administration ever. Incredibly, Allee saw to it that Curitore was promoted to first-grade detective in 2000, when he collected a near $10,000 raise.

The circle-the-wagons defense that started with Donahue eventually involved an army of lawyers, who were paid $784,759 by Friends of Pataki, the state GOP, and the state itself, which can pick up the tab for state employees who are subpoenaed by prosecutors but not indicted. While three lawyers were paid $257,378 to represent Donahue, Wiese's lawyers were not reimbursed by either the state or the committee, in an apparent attempt to conceal his involvement. Detailed bills have to be submitted for state reimbursement, and they are public records. Indeed, the bills for other state officials indicate that their lawyers were talking to Wiese's attorneys "re: Wiese" from June 1998 to February 1999.

A federal prosecutor at the Yoo trial branded the parole case "the biggest fundraising scandal that this state has seen in a very long time," with almost $40,000 in contributions sparking a paper-trail frenzy of Pataki-tied attempts to get three violent felons out of jail early. Had Wiese and Curitore not penetrated it from the outset, there is no telling how high it might have reached.

Additional research: Andrew Burtless, Adam Hutton, Christine Lagorio, and Brian O'Connor

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