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Indictments expected in New York police ticket-fixing scandal

October 28, 2011 |  6:33 am

 NYPD blues

A New York police officer was arrested overnight and 15 other officers and several civilians were expected to surrender Friday with the anticipated unsealing of an indictment alleging they were part of a ticket-fixing ring that saved friends, relatives and associates from paying parking and traffic fines.

Jose Ramos and his wife were arrested Thursday night. Ramos, an officer in the New York borough of the Bronx, had been under investigation in 2009 for alleged association with a drug dealer when officials listening to his phone calls heard him discussing fixing tickets.

That led to the wider investigation, and as we reported here, a Bronx grand jury began hearing testimony on the case in March.

Ramos' attorney, John Sandleitner, challenged prosecutors to prove any wrongdoing by his client, who has been on the police force for 18 years and who he said worked up until the day of his arrest. “If he had done any of these things that they say, they would’ve arrested him two months ago. Or two years ago,” the Associated Press quoted Sandleitner as saying. “Why did they let him go to work, then?”

The Daily News reported that the Patrolmen's Benevolent Assn. had urged members to pack the Bronx courthouse where the arraignment was planned to lend support to the accused.

Pat Lynch, the association's president, recently complained that morale among officers was "as bad as I've ever seen it" as a result of investigations into alleged police misconduct. He did not specifically mention the ticket-fixing probe but made clear that with police suspected of wrongdoing of any form, it hampered officers' abilities to do their jobs without worrying about being put under suspicion.

Lynch's statement came shortly before another scandal erupted, which this week led to the arrests of five police officers accused in a gun-running operation. 

Outside the Bronx courthouse early Friday, police had set up metal barricades to control the crowds of supporters and media expected for the arraignment, which was expected later in the day.

Various local media accounts have described the indictment as running more than 1,000 pages and involving crimes ranging from perjury to grand larceny. It could be one of the biggest scandals, in terms of the number of officers and alleged crimes, to envelop the Police Department in more than a decade.

In recent years, the department has also weathered scandals involving physical abuse and allegations of unjustified shootings.


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Photo: A New York Police Department precinct building. Credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images