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Sunday, August 1, 2010

Bad Cops' Guarantee'

Bad cops' 'guarantee'

It's the deal of a lifetime. A controversial bill now before Gov. Paterson would guarantee cops and firefighters generous pensions after 20 years on the job -- even if they get in trouble. The proposal, backed by the city's uniformed unions and criticized by Mayor Bloomberg, has passed the Senate and Assembly. "The practical effect of this legislation would be to insulate those with over 20 years in service from the consequences of serious misconduct," Micha Lasher, Bloomberg's director of state legislative affairs, wrote Thursday in a letter to Paterson obtained by The Post. Currently, New York City cops and firefighters who survive 20 years of service face losing their pensions if cited for any misdeed leading to dismissal. In the last 3½ years, a source said, the NYPD has axed six employees with more than 20 years' time, thus stripping them of benefits. Detective Christopher Perino, a 22-year vet, lost $2 million in projected pension payouts to a perjury conviction. He had testified that he did not interrogate a murder suspect, who later produced a secretly recorded tape of Perino grilling him. To avoid the so-called "pension roulette" that sealed such disgraced cops and firefighters' fates, many now retire after their 20th year. After two decades of service, they can immediately start collecting half-pay pensions, usually while still in their early 40s, young enough to start second careers. And if they get in trouble after they've left the NYPD or FDNY, they keep their benefits. So-called "Mafia cops" Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa are cases in point. Both collect NYPD pensions while serving life sentences for committing a string of contract murders for the Lucchese crime family. All of which prompted the controversial measure's sponsor, state Sen. Diane Savino (D-SI), to predict that "this bill will actually provide an incentive for [cops and firefighters] to stay after 20 years." "It does not protect anyone from discipline and merely seeks to protect vested pension rights accumulated over decades of service," said Roy Richter, president of the Captains Benevolent Association. The NYPD did not return a call, but Fire Commissioner Salvatore Cassano has stated that he doesn't like the idea. "We oppose this bill because it takes away from the commissioner's discretion in these cases," said FDNY spokesman Steve Ritea. As of last night. the bill's fate remained unclear. "[The governor] will certainly review it and solicit input from various stakeholders," said spokeswoman Maggie McKeon. philip.messing@

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