When you absolutely, absolutely have to get there… trust your bodyguards!
Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz used members of her taxpayer-funded security detail to help her move into her new million-dollar dig – potentially breaking ethics rules, has learned The Post.
The borough’s top prosecutor was spotted wearing her gold DA badge on her hip last week as she carried four boxes of personal effects in a black Ford Expedition parked outside the Forest Hills home where she has been living temporarily since selling her former childhood home for $1.05 million in February. .
She then got into the official vehicle and was driven approximately 1.2 miles by a pair of plainclothes NYPD police to her new three-bedroom, 2-1/2-bathroom Colonial-style home, which City records show she bought it late last month for $1.1 million. .
The trip was one of four The Post saw Katz, 56, and her detail make between her old and new home on Tuesday morning. Later that day, Katz took part in an online Pride event sponsored by her office and appeared to be sitting behind the driver’s seat in the SUV, which had a row of clothes hanging from a visible rack in the back.
On Friday morning, The Post also saw members of Katz’s security detail carrying various items into the SUV from one of the homes while picking her and her two children up. One cop made three round trips, and the other two. They were carrying stuff in their hands and in big black plastic bags.
Sources familiar with Katz’s routine told the Post that members of her security detail also carried flat-screen TVs, groceries and dry cleaning for her, as well as loaded the bikes and sports equipment from his sons in an official SUV, driving the family away and returning a few hours later.
Katz also regularly had her security guards show up at her house on weekday mornings in time to accompany her children while the cops drove them to school, after which she returned home, dressed for work and left around 10 a.m., sources said. .
“She uses the detectives as her personal car service,” a source said.
The measures appear to run counter to provisions of municipal law that prohibit elected officials and other officials from using their office “for financial gain, privilege, or any other private or personal advantage” and “from using resources of the city for personal, non-city purpose.
Those bans were cited in a 2016 settlement between the city’s Conflict of Interest Board and the late Brooklyn DA Ken Thompson, who agreed to pay a $15,000 fine to settle allegations that he illegally asked to his security guards to buy him meals for which they were later reimbursed by the prosecutor’s office.
Blair Horner of the New York Public Interest Research Group, which advocates for government accountability, said Katz “deserves protection” because “we live in a crazy world.”
“But any elected official who needs their laundry picked up or their belongings moved should hire a private company to do so,” he said.
“There are many elected officials who have gotten into trouble for using public resources for private gain. Civil servants are just that.
Katz, a Democrat with an annual salary of $212,800, is a protege of disgraced former state comptroller Alan Hevesi, having babysat his children and volunteering for his successful 1993 campaign for comptroller municipal.
In return, Hevesi backed Katz’s third-party campaign to replace him in the state Assembly against the local Democratic district leader, whom she defeated in a special election in 1994.
During his 2006 re-election campaign for state comptroller, Hevesi was accused by his Republican opponent of using a member of his security department as his wife’s driver in the previous three years.
Hevesi admitted the abuse and immediately paid $83,000 in restitution, but was later ordered to pay another $90,000, then forced to resign and serve 20 months in prison for a paid $1 million bribery scam with an investor in a public pension fund.
A source said Hevesi’s downfall apparently affected the extent to which Katz relies on his security details.
“She’s learned her lesson – she makes sure she’s always in the car with her kids,” the source said.
A spokesperson for the DA’s office said Katz’s NYPD detail was assigned “for protection, as it always has been.”
“As the borough’s chief law enforcement officer, the prosecutor’s job is 24/7,” the statement said. “Retail members are physically with the DA for her protection while following a similar schedule as any other working parent – they accompany her whether she is conducting work meetings, attending community events or responding to needs of his family.
Additional reporting by Kevin Sheehan and Nolan Hicks