Home Opinion Greg Blass Manipulation, sensationalism and self-promotion: our police commish at work (while campaigning for...

Manipulation, sensationalism and self-promotion: our police commish at work (while campaigning for district attorney)

Suffolk Police Commissioner Tim Sini during a press conference at Suffolk Police headquarters last year. File photo: Denise Civiletti

Just what is happening at the higher levels of law enforcement in Suffolk? Are we some border county in Mississippi in the early 1900s? When does it stop? Who are these blatantly unethical officials now in charge? We the people are enabling one travesty after another. Wait till you hear the latest — on top of the inevitable indictment on federal charges of the Suffolk district attorney a couple of weeks ago – as if that’s not enough of a wake-up call.

Before going on, mind you this is not about the rank-and-file police officers in the county or the towns, or the sheriffs’ deputies, junior assistants district attorney, court workers and so on, several of whom have reached out to me since posting my last column just prior to the Suffolk DA’s arrest. These to a man and woman shared their shame at the behavior of the DA and Suffolk PD commissioner, as well as their now-jailed county police chief, all three of whom they once respected and trusted.

One even told me of the ongoing workplace harassment suffered by his Suffolk PD patrol partner, who was a complainant against the misconduct of another police officer, for breaking the “code.” That complaint sat in the PD Internal Affairs Unit for months, then POOF, it was gone – erased by PD Commissioner Tim Sini, who chose to let 87 such complaints, from citizens and officers alike, be dropped, without a trace, for the deceitfully stated reason that there were not enough PD staff assigned to handle the caseload. It was shortly after that disgrace that Sini, as commish, announced he was running for Suffolk DA, while staying on as commissioner, whereupon the party bosses, as plotted, eagerly delivered to him the ballot lines of the Democratic, Independence, Conservative and Working Families “parties” for Election Day, Nov. 7.

So as recently as Saturday, Oct. 28, DA candidate Sini held yet another news conference (as commish, of course), announcing the arrest that morning of a 24 year-old man for receiving two bags in the mail containing the illegal drug fentanyl, a powerful opioid. But in court the following Wednesday, as reported by Newsday, the assistant DA on the case moved to dismiss, which the judge granted, for a shocking reason: the contents of the two bags were field-tested and lab-tested by the Suffolk PD Crime Laboratory, which reported that the powder was not in fact fentanyl.

What clinched the dismissal was the DA’s report to the court that the police knew of this lab report on Oct. 25, yet tricked another judge to sign search and arrest warrants, while concealing the negative drug test results. The Suffolk PD brass knew it was not fentanyl days before the man’s arrest and house search, yet they falsely swore the opposite in order to get the warrants. But Sini needed one last dog-and-pony show before Election Day — and he got it, with full knowledge of the lab test results not supporting the charges for which he boastfully took credit.

As usual Sini ran for cover and had his assistant commissioner — who is also his DA campaign spokesman — attempt to wipe the egg from his boss’ face by attacking the DA’s office. He said the DA’s push for dismissal was a “complete surprise,” that the DA knew all along that the seized material was a fentanyl analog rather than fentanyl — which had not been determined by additional lab testing before the court date. In any event, the type of drug the PD now says it might be calls for a far less serious charge than what was boasted at Sini’s bogus news conference.

But why falsely sensationalize drug cases for the public? Are we regarded as that stupid?

All this offers a glimpse into a big and scary problem between the elites at the DA’s office and the unethical goings-on with the campaigning PD commish. It highlights an unholy alliance between these two groups where honesty casually flies out the window. As has been publicized often before, arrest warrants and search warrants have been knowingly, falsely sworn to by Suffolk PD brass to secure a judge’s approval.

It appears this ongoing, evil practice of cooperating to manufacture or withhold evidence has for a few days fallen apart. But not for long with Sini in the wings. The present DA’s office resents the arrest of their boss by the feds — and blames Sini and the county executive who appointed Sini for breaking their “code.” Note the county executive turned against the eventually arrested DA only after that DA prosecuted two close aides on the county executive’s staff — hardly an honorable dispute. And before this dispute, when the DA, the county exec, the PD commish and jailed chief were one big, happy family, what evil deeds lay (and still remain) hidden?

Further, we can deduce something else just as alarming: Why is Suffolk, especially in the last several years, cursed with public, criminal case files on record in the courts and county clerk’s office, where one case file after another contain search warrants and arrest warrants without the supporting affidavits? This incomplete file issue is of deep concern among attorneys, journalists and even bureaucrats in our county. Such affidavits and other important records, such as photographs, tapes of confessions, etc. are literally not there – just plain missing. Sounds technical, but you can be sure it’s yet further proof of law-breaking — often not by the named defendants, but by those we trust to swear out honest facts, or otherwise uphold the law.

Sini’s Oct. 28 bogus news conference should have been a front page story in Newsday, and the reporter who filed it likely expected just that. But for whatever sordid reason, Newsday’s majority shareholder, Patrick Dolan, who is also president and news director of News 12, avidly supports Sini for DA this Election Day. One can only imagine why.

So Dolan’s robotic editors at Newsday put a story like this far back in the paper, accompanied by a flattering photo of Sini holding a likeness of the falsely accused, along with American flags, gold-badged police brass, etc. — to somehow make up for the bad news? One would have to read the complex article beneath, as it was finally printed, more than once to grasp its full, disgusting import. Another sleepy article followed. This is quite in harmony with Newsday’s weak-kneed reporting of the scandalous, 87 erased Internal Affiars cases – that outrage had the briefest, matter-of-fact mention in Newsday only once last spring.

The soon-to-resign DA and a good number of his assistant prosecutors have been called out by the press for abuses of power in league with the Suffolk PD muckety-mucks. But there’s a temporary blood feud of late among these mighty carnivores. In the meantime, this muted scandal of a phony drug bust has prompted the Republican DA candidate Ray Perini, Sini’s opponent, to call for Sini to resign as commissioner and for the feds to investigate. Too little, too late?

While all this appears rather distant from our daily lives, it could dramatically affect any of us who gets on the wrong side — not of the law — but of a powerful person or people cloaked in the law. Suffolk PD commish Sini will continue the good old boys’ crude network. He will not merely embrace the sleaze factor in the upper levels of law enforcement, he is already a major part of it. If he’s elected DA, the beat goes on. That is a chilling prospect for us all.

One can only hope that the federal prosecutors will restore public confidence in Suffolk’s law enforcement, because the party bosses and their robber-baron allies in the county-wide news media, could not care less.

Greg Blass
Greg has spent his life in public service since he enlisted in the U.S. Navy as a teenager. He is a former Suffolk County Family Court judge, six-term Suffolk County legislator and commissioner of Social Services. Now retired, Greg is active in volunteer work and is a board member of several charities. He lives in Jamesport. Email Greg