Investigators conclude Mayor de Blasio misused his security detail and NYPD helped cover it up

AP Photo/John Minchillo

Two years ago there was a report claiming that Mayor de Blasio had used his city-funded security detail to shuttle his son to college at Yale multiple times:

Mayor de Blasio ordered his NYPD security detail to repeatedly take his son back and forth from Yale University during his first years at school, the Daily News has learned.

Executive Protection Unit detectives drove Dante de Blasio to or from New Haven, Conn., at least seven or eight times, the sources with direct knowledge said. Members of the detail also took Dante to visit his uncle, who lives nearby, sources said. Dante faced no security risks at the time, the sources said.

That followed earlier reports that de Blasio had ordered his detail to move his daughter out of her Brooklyn apartment:

The move happened roughly one year ago under cover of night, the sources said. Chiara de Blasio lived in the apartment at 4th Ave. and 56th St. for roughly two years, according to a source close to de Blasio’s Executive Protection Unit.

The move was an abuse of city resources, that source said.

A second source with knowledge of the move was also disgusted. “They used detectives and department vehicles on city time to move his daughter … Please.”

Even at the time there were reports the city’s Department of Investigations was looking into those incidents but sources told the Daily News the investigation didn’t seem serious and may even have been just an excuse to find out who was talking.

Jump forward two years and two months and the Department of Investigations has finally issued a report which concludes de Blasio misused his security detail known as the Executive Protection Unit (EPU). This comes from the executive summary of the report:

Regarding Chiara de Blasio’s move, DOI’s investigation determined that multiple EPU members were present during Chiara de Blasio’s move from her apartment, and that an NYPD sprinter van was used to transport some of Chiara’s belongings from her apartment to Gracie Mansion. DOI’s investigation found that at least one EPU member participated in moving Chiara’s belongings – specifically, a futon – into and out of the sprinter van. DOI’s investigation was unable to determine whether NYPD resources assisted in the move at Mayor de Blasio’s direct instruction. However, the provision of the sprinter van and the assistance of NYPD personnel in physically moving furniture was a misuse of NYPD resources for a personal benefit, whether it was requested or merely accepted.

Regarding Dante de Blasio’s use of the security detail, DOI’s investigation identified multiple instances when EPU detectives drove Dante de Blasio to or from Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, without the Mayor or First Lady present in the EPU vehicle. The detectives interviewed by DOI asserted that the directives to drive Dante de Blasio came from their superiors, not directly from Mayor de Blasio. DOI also found that it was common practice for the EPU to drive Dante de Blasio to locations around New York City without the Mayor or First Lady present, typically at the direction of their EPU superiors…in practice, Dante’s use of NYPD resources was determined by his personal preferences and the availability of personnel, rather than any risk assessment.

In addition to using his detail as a taxi service for his children the mayor also used them to transport members of his staff and guests.

DOI’s investigation also revealed numerous instances when EPU members transported mayoral staffers to various locations, including to their homes, and assisted them in running errands for the Mayor. Additionally, DOI identified several instances when the security detail was asked to transport guests of the Mayor, at his direction, without him present in the vehicle.

And when he ran for president, the city spent more than $300,000 transporting members of his campaign staff. Those funds have never been reimbursed by the mayor or his campaign.

Finally, the report concludes that one particular NYPD official, Inspector Howard Redmond, actively thwarted the investigation. Redmond was asked to turn in his phone starting in December of 2019 but he repeated failed to do so until a few months ago:

DOI requested Inspector Redmond’s communications on December 20, 2019, and again on April 3, 2020. It is DOI’s understanding that City Hall repeatedly requested that Inspector Redmond provide his City- Hall-issued cell phone to an attorney at City Hall for production to DOI, but that he did not comply. DOI was informed that City Hall counsel sought the assistance of NYPD and, on multiple occasions in May and June 2021, Inspector Redmond was requested by an attorney in NYPD’s Legal Bureau to provide his City-Hall-issued cell phone to the City Hall attorney or to NYPD’s Legal Bureau. Again, he did not comply. In July 2021, the DOI Commissioner personally had to ask senior leadership of NYPD to issue a direct order to Inspector Redmond to turn in his City- Hall-issued cell phone. Only then did Inspector Redmond comply.

When Redmond’s phone was examined it was determined that his text messages had all been deleted. But then the investigators learned he had switched out his phone and sent the prior one in for recycling.

On August 3, 2021, the NYPD provided DOI with information extracted from Inspector Redmond’s NYPD-issued cell phone. The analysis indicated that the phone Redmond had surrendered had only been placed into service and issued to Redmond on July 29, 2021. DOI then learned that, after being directed by an NYPD attorney to provide his Department-issued phone for production, Inspector Redmond instead turned his previous cell phone in to an NYPD IT office for an “upgrade.” Redmond then surrendered this new and essentially unused device to the Legal Bureau for production to DOI, without informing the Legal Bureau that the device was new. After discovering that Redmond’s prior device had been handed over by him to NYPD’s IT personnel and then (unwittingly, by IT personnel) submitted for recycling and erasure, NYPD was able to recover Inspector Redmond’s prior NYPD-issued cell phone from its technology recycling vendor.

When this was discovered, the NYPD promised to investigate but later concluded Inspector Redmond hadn’t violated any NYPD policies. The report notes, “This conclusion was reached despite the knowledge that Inspector Redmond had deliberately sought to destroy official communications that he knew were sought in a DOI investigation and then misled the NYPD’s own attorneys about his compliance with the demand for records.”

Most of the messages had been auto-deleted after 30 days but investigators did find that Inspector Redmond had a meeting in his calendar at Gracie Mansion just 3 days before the investigators were scheduled to interview Mayor de Blasio and his wife about his security detail. I’m sure that was just a coincidence.

In short, de Blasio used his security detail as a taxi service for his friends and family. The NYPD Inspector who apparently coordinated much of that activity tried to destroy evidence of what was done (and who was requesting it be done). And the NYPD concluded that the attempted coverup was not a violation of any policy. As the Rolling Stones once said, “Go ahead, bite the Big Apple, don’t mind the maggots.”