A former high-ranking police officer who pleaded guilty to misusing police resources to help a donor to Mayor de Blasio doesn’t deserve jail time because inmates will target him behind bars, his attorney argues in papers filed Tuesday.
Deputy Chief Michael Harrington, 52, admitted in March to doing an array of on-duty favors for Jeremy Reichberg, including ordering a helicopter flyover of a party in 2015 the Brooklyn businessman held on a boat in the East River. He also admitted to arranging an NYPD harbor unit ride-along for Reichberg and some of his guests at a barbecue that same year.
In new papers filed in Manhattan Federal Court, Harrington’s attorney Andrew Weinstein writes that the disgraced cop deserves a sentence of probation. Federal guidelines recommend Harrington be sentenced to up to six months in prison.
“In prison, Harrington’s status as a former police executive, combined with the extensive publicity attending his case, would either expose him to abuse from fellow inmates or require preventive segregation, forcing him to serve his sentence under unusually harsh conditions,” Weinstein writes.
“While he realized it was wrong to cut corners and bypass Department protocol, what Harrington didn’t know at the time was that those derelictions were criminal,” Weinstein added.
Dozens of friends, family and former colleagues wrote letters to Judge Gregory Woods vouching for Harrington’s character. Among them was one from former FDNY Commissioner Sal Cassano, who wrote that Harrington was “a tremendous asset” after 9/11 as the department mourned the deaths of 343 firefighters.
“This was an extremely emotional period for our members and their families and with the help of Michael and his care, consideration and dedication he was able to ease the pain and sorrow a bit,” Cassano wrote.
In another letter, a retired NYPD detective says Harrington contributed to the decline in crime in Bedford-Stuyvesant while working as commanding officer of the 79th Precinct. The retired detective, Thomas Joyce, wrote that seven to nine years ago “it seemed like Bedford-Stuyvesant had no hope.”
“Today it is a vibrant, predominantly African-American community with a fabulous mix of dozens of national chains and retailers along with numerous independent gastronomic establishments. Crime is down, jobs are up and people live peaceably,” Joyce wrote. “Mike Harrington is one of the people that gave his professional ‘all’ to make that resurgence possible.”
Harrington pleaded guilty in connection with a sprawling gifts-for-favors probe that rocked the upper ranks of the NYPD. He will be sentenced on June 11.