Dirty Little Secrets in NYPD's Internal Affairs Bureau

Witch hunts, injustice, and just plain incompetence in the secretive police-department-within-a-department

"We're aware of Ms. Varney's allegations, and we're confident in the end that Sergeant Ellington will be exonerated," Ellington's attorney, Bruno Gioffre, tells the Voice. Gioffre declined to address Varney's specific allegations because the case is still under investigation by the NYPD.

Ellington asked her to "satisfy" him. She refused, but he insisted. Holding a camera, he told her that she wasn't going home until she performed a sex act with him. She says she fled to the bathroom. He convinced her to come out, and then, she claims, he gave her a glass of water that made her feel light-headed. She didn't pass out, she says, but she "felt looser, and kept seeing camera flashes."

"When I came to five hours later—it was 6 a.m.—he was smiling," she says. "He says you really satisfied me. He told me he had taken pictures, and he showed me the camera."

Detective Michael DePaolis is in official limbo as he is watched by IAB cameras while he works.
C.S. Muncy
Detective Michael DePaolis is in official limbo as he is watched by IAB cameras while he works.
Detective Michael DePaolis
C.S. Muncy
Detective Michael DePaolis

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Ellington, she says, brought her home, and then kept calling her, asking for a second chance and even giving her son a toy fire truck.

That January, he appeared at her apartment again, and Varney asked him for the pictures he had taken of her. He insisted that she ride with him to get them.

"I just wanted to get out, but he drove me to his house on Long Island," she says. "He handcuffed me in the bedroom and left me there. Then he comes back, and I tell him I want to go home, but he says you're not going home until you do what I want."

Varney claims that Ellington then took her to his basement and locked her down there for another four hours. He also took her phone and purse. "He's telling me I disrespected him, and this was my punishment," she says. "After that, I gave in and let him do whatever. I didn't know what else he was going to do. I didn't think he would let me leave."

Finally, Ellington drove her home, both apologizing and accusing her at one point of "trying to make him angry." She says she was terrified.

Eventually, Varney went to the 104th Precinct to file a complaint, but it didn't seem to go anywhere. Ellington learned of it and threatened, she claims, to make her life "a living hell."

In the meantime, she began to reconcile with her son's father, Domingo Figueroa. Figueroa ended up getting arrested at their apartment for "violating an order of protection" by officers from Ellington's precinct, the 104th.

She had another bizarre encounter with a cop from the 104th Precinct. A lieutenant, she claims, came to her apartment to talk about her order of protection against Ellington.

"He asks me to use the bathroom, comes out, and says, 'I like the shape of your lips, your eyes—you're an attractive woman," she claims. He says, 'Can we work something out?' I said, 'You're scaring me.' He says, 'Give me a hug and I'll leave.' I told him to leave. He grabs me, puts his tongue in my mouth. He grabs my right hand and puts it on his penis. I'm crying."

Varney claims that when the lieutenant left, he said, "I'm going to leave, but we need to finish this. It's Valentine's Day, and I don't have anyone."

The following day, the lieutenant called Varney to apologize. But that same day, February 15, she was arrested based on a complaint filed by her landlord.

The lieutenant appeared at her cell that day, and told her he was releasing her, she says. "I'm doing you a favor, and you owe me a favor," she says he told her.

At the end of February 2009, Varney moved in with her mother—mainly to get away from Ellington.

In late September 2009, Ellington appeared at her house on Long Island. He told her that if he couldn't have her, no one could have her. He told her that his wife had found out about her. Varney says he slapped her, pushed her against a wall outside her home, and drew his firearm. "He had that gun in my face and against my stomach," she says.

A neighbor called the Suffolk County police. An officer arrived and began questioning them. The officer asked her if she wanted to press charges. She says she was scared of Ellington, so she made up a story that someone else had assaulted her.

But the Suffolk County officer, sensing something was strange, insisted on speaking with her outside of Ellington's hearing. She later went to the 5th Precinct in Suffolk County, made a complaint, and got an order of protection from the court against Ellington.

Ellington was finally arrested in January for menacing with a firearm and endangering the welfare of a child. "He had to be arrested for what he did," she says. "It wasn't even a relationship. It was harassment." He was placed on modified assignment after his arrest, and he was transferred to a housing police precinct. Since then, the case has been pending in the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office.

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