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New York City police union boss targeted by feds for corruption was longtime ‘thorn’ in City Hall’s side

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Word of Ed Mullins’ sudden resignation as head of one of New York City’s powerful police unions was still circulating through the city when Mayor Bill de Blasio fired off a bitter parting shot.

“Ed Mullins dishonored his uniform, his city and his union more times than I can count,” de Blasio tweeted just after Mullins resigned Tuesday as head of the Sergeants Benevolent Association, or SBA, amid a federal corruption investigation. “It was just a matter of time before his endless hatred would catch up with him. That day has come.”

That de Blasio would publicly kick Mullins while he was down speaks volumes about the fraught relationship the mayor had with the outspoken and polarizing leader of a union that represents 13,000 active and retired New York City police sergeants and controls a $264 million retirement fund.

But de Blasio is not the only New York City leader who had problems with Mullins.

During the 20 or so years that Mullins headed the SBA, he managed to antagonize de Blasio’s predecessors, as well as New York City Police Department leadership, with his strident opposition to almost any police reform, as well as his bare-knuckle and very personal public attacks on city leaders and other critics.

“He has been a thorn in the side of four commissioners,” William Bratton, who served as the police commissioner under de Blasio and former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, told New York Magazine last year. “He has always been a pain in the ass.”

Using the union’s Twitter account, Mullins ripped de Blasio’s daughter as a “rioting anarchist” after she was arrested last year for taking part in a protest against police violence following the killing of George Floyd while in the custody of Minneapolis police. He also called former New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot a “bitch” with “blood on her hands” after she allegedly argued with NYPD leadership over mask distribution early on in the pandemic.

“Ed Mullins is essentially the Donald Trump of New York City politics,” U.S. Rep. Ritchie Torres, D-N.Y., who was born and raised in the Bronx borough, told MSNBC’s Chris Hayes the same day Mullins stepped down.

Mullins had called Torres a “first class whore” in a since-deleted tweet last year after the lawmaker called for an investigation into an alleged police work slowdown.

Torres, who is gay, denounced Mullins’ tweet as homophobic.

“He has a long-standing pattern of embracing conspiracy theories, trafficking in racism and sexism and homophobia,” Torres said of Mullins. “He’s done it with impunity.”

In a subsequent statement, Torres’ spokesperson, Raymond Rodriguez, said Mullins “has a long history of bigotry that permeated the entire union he led.”

“For the most part, the law enforcement unions oppose any sort of oversight or accountability measures. That’s the way they operate.”

But Stephen Nasta, a retired NYPD inspector who now lectures at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City and has met Mullins several times, said the ex-union boss is no bigot. He recalled how Mullins made a point of reaching out to Black ministers as part of a crime-fighting effort.

“I don’t buy that he’s not for minorities,” Nasta said. “He’s for helping crime victims whatever color they are.”

Former NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill called Mullins a “keyboard gangster” after the union boss ripped him in 2018 for not cracking down hard on people who had been dousing police officers with water and tweeted “O’KNEEL must go!”

The SBA head also said then-Chief of Department Terence Monahan should “consider another profession.”

Ed Mullins arrives at New York City police headquarters on Sept. 8.Luiz C. Ribeiro / New York Daily News/TNS via Getty Images file

When he wasn’t lashing out over the internet, Mullins used his frequent appearances on conservative news outlets such as Fox News and Newsmax to attack city leaders.

During a July 2020 interview with Fox News’ Neil Cavuto, a mug with the imagery of QAnon, the Trump-supporting group that has spread dozens of bogus conspiracies, including some that have resulted in violence, could be seen in the background.

Mullins was also a frequent guest on right-wing radio and in 2019, he upset the family of Tessa Majors, a Barnard College student who was slain, by suggesting — with no evidence — that she was in Morningside Park to buy marijuana when she was killed.

Investigators later determined Majors had been fatally stabbed during an attempted robbery. Mullins later apologized and insisted his comments “were taken out context.”

Mullins resigned from the union just hours after the FBI raided the SBA headquarters in lower Manhattan and his home in Port Washington, Long Island, on Tuesday as part of the federal corruption investigation. He did not respond to NBC News’ email seeking comment about the developments or his leadership of the fifth biggest police union in the country.

“Ed will not be making any statements,” SBA lawyer Andrew Quinn said in an email.

The SBA’s bylaws require Mullins to continue working as a police sergeant and he was paid $133,195 by the city last year, though his full-time job was running the SBA, which pays him an additional salary. The union paid Mullins $88,757 in 2019, according to the SBA’s most recent paperwork, which listed him as a trustee.

He has been placed on modified duty and stripped of his badge and gun while the FBI and the public corruption unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York investigate.

Federal investigators have not provided any details about the investigation. But in a statement confirming that Mullins was stepping down, the SBA said that “it is clear that President Mullins is apparently the target of a federal investigation.”

Mullins was able to keep a tight grip on the SBA because under his leadership, the union successfully negotiated contracts with the city that resulted in 40 percent wage increases.

He is also in the midst of an NYPD disciplinary proceeding for violating departmental guidelines by tweeting out Chiara de Blasio’s mugshot and personal details after she was arrested in May 2020.

The son of a longshoreman and a stay-at-home mom, Mullins and his three siblings were raised in Greenwich Village and he joined the NYPD in 1982, according to his official biography.

He was elected president of the SBA in 2002. And, along with Police Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch, whose organization represents about 24,000 of the NYPD’s 36,000 officers, they became the public faces of police opposition to reform of the department by City Hall.

They were also outspoken supporters of Trump, with both unions endorsing him in the 2020 presidential election.

Mullins staked out “a reactionary position” on social media, said Wilbur Chapman, who was the NYPD’s deputy commissioner of training when he retired in 2011.

“There is a lot of tribalism occurring in society right now and the police department is a reflection of society,” he said. “When I was coming up, there wasn’t the same political activism you see now in policing. People had their political opinions, but they kept them to themselves.”

Chapman said Mullins first landed on his radar when he noticed that the SBA’s first vice-president was attending sergeant promotion ceremonies instead of him.

It is customary for the heads of the police unions to attend these kinds of ceremonies, Chapman said, but from 2007 to 2011, Mullins was often a no-show “because of his differences with then-Police Commissioner (Ray) Kelly.”

“He was conspicuously missing,” Chapman said.




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Angolan journalists continue to face criminal insult and defamation proceedings

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New York, June 30, 2022 – Angolan authorities should drop criminal defamation and insult investigations into journalists Escrivão José, Óscar Constantino, and Fernando Caetano and ensure that investigative journalism is not criminalized, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Thursday.

The three journalists each told CPJ that they are facing ongoing legal processes over criminal defamation and insult complaints about their work.

“The spate of spurious criminal defamation cases against journalists in Angola shows that politicians and powerful figures are allergic to public scrutiny and are taking advantage of colonial-era laws to criminalize journalism,” said Angela Quintal, CPJ’s Africa program coordinator, in Johannesburg, South Africa. “Prosecutors must stop pandering to elites who want to keep citizens in the dark and should refuse to entertain such cases in line with a 2010 resolution by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights urging African Union members states to abolish criminal defamation and insult laws.”

Convictions for criminal defamation carry prison terms of up to 1.5 years and a fine set by a judge; insult convictions carry one year and a fine, according to the penal code and Nelson Custódio, a local lawyer who represents both Caetano and Constantino, and who spoke to CPJ via messaging app. CPJ has recently reported on several other criminal defamation cases against journalists in Angola.

On June 6, investigators with the police criminal investigation service in the capital, Luanda,  sent a summons to José, editor of the privately owned newspaper Hora H, and on June 13 they questioned him in relation to defamation and insult complaints filed by Bento Bento, the ruling People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) first secretary in the capital, according to news reports and the journalist, who spoke to CPJ via messaging app.

Bento’s complaints stemmed from a March 29 report by Hora H’s affiliated online video outlet, in which José covered corruption allegations involving a land deal by Bento, José told CPJ. Authorities released José after classifying him as “arguido,” or a formal suspect in criminal proceedings, a necessary step to possibly being charged with a crime or arrested.

José told CPJ that Hora H had sought Bento’s comment more than a month before publishing their story.

“Instead of any reply to our questions, Bento chose to intimidate journalists by using his political weight to sue us,” José said, adding that this was the 24th criminal defamation suit he had faced over his work. He said most of those cases were unresolved, and some had closed without a formal prosecution.

CPJ called Bento and contacted him via messaging app for comment but he did not answer.  

Separately, on June 20, a judge in the province of Kwanza Sul held a hearing in criminal defamation and insult cases against Constantino, a reporter for the Catholic Church-owned broadcaster Radio Ecclésia, according to news reports and Constantino, who spoke to CPJ via messaging app.

That case stemmed from complaints filed by Morais António, the former president of the provincial electoral commission, over a 2020 report by the journalist about António’s resignation amid an alleged sex scandal, according to those sources. Constantino has been classified as arguido in that case since 2021, he told CPJ.

He said his court appearance in the case is scheduled for July 6, when he expects to learn whether he has been convicted. The public prosecutor had asked for the charges against Constantino to be dropped because of a lack of evidence, according to news reports and Custódio.

António told CPJ by phone that he believed Constantino “went beyond the facts in his reporting” and accused the journalist of failing to publish his reply to the allegations. Constantino told CPJ he stood by the reporting, which he said was based on António’s resignation letter.

António also filed separate criminal defamation and insult complaints against Caetano, a correspondent for the U.S. Congress-funded broadcaster Voice of America and the news website Club K in Kwanza Sul province, over a December 2017 report by Club K about alleged corruption in the management of the provincial electoral commission, the journalist told CPJ by phone. Caetano said he was notified of his status as arguido in the case in November 2021.

That 2017 report was published under someone else’s byline, and featured a photograph that was later reused in an unrelated report written by Caetano in December 2019, Caetano told CPJ. He said he was not the author of the 2017 report and had “no say” in the photo in the 2019 article, adding, “This is a good example of how easily journalists can get sued in Angola for next to no reason.”

António told CPJ that Caetano must prove that he was not the author of the 2017 report, as the photograph was the same and Caetano was the only Club K reporter in the province.

“If it is not him so who is it?” António said, noting that the 2017 article alleged that he had embezzled money.

Caetano had his first court hearing in that case in March, according to Custódio. The case was adjourned and a date for the next hearing had not been set by June 29, Custódio said.

Kwanza Sul public prosecutor Mário Sacuiema told CPJ in a phone interview that he could not comment on Constantino or Caetano’s cases, and confirmed that a date for Caetano’s next court hearing had not been set.


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CCOs and Execution of Compliance Certification: A Significant Risk? (Part III of III)

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CCOs, by definition, are careful and deliberate.  It comes with the profession.  As risk managers, CCOs are skilled in identifying, assessing and acting in a risk environment.

The impact of the new CCO certification requirement, however, presents serious risks that cannot be brushed off or ignored in the face of assurances that prosecutorial discretion will protect CCOs from misguided prosecutions.  Frankly, CCOs recognize that there is too much at stake, including their careers and their liberty interest. 

DOJ’s new requirement was designed and rolled out in good faith, in an attempt to bolster the standing of CCOs in the corporate governance landscape.  To address the potential negative reaction to the certification requirement, DOJ included an important provision in its Glencore FCPA plea agreement.

As set out by DOJ, a CEO and CCO would be required to execute the form Certification thirty (30) days prior to the end of the Independent Compliance Monitor’s Term, which in the case of Glencore is a three-year term.  Paragraph 10 of the Plea Agreement sets out the following important language:

Where necessary and appropriate, the Defendant will adopt new or modify existing internal controls, compliance policies, and procedures in order to ensure that the Defendant maintains: (a) an effective system of internal accounting controls designed to ensure the making and keeping of fair and accurate books, records, and accounts; and (b) a rigorous anti-corruption compliance program that incorporates relevant internal accounting controls, as well as policies and procedures designed to effectively detect and deter violations of the FCPA and other applicable anti-corruption laws. The compliance program, including the internal accounting controls system, will include, but not be limited to, the minimum elements set forth in Attachment C. The Office[r]s, in their sole discretion, may consider the Monitor’s certification decision in assessing the Defendant’s compliance program and the state of its internal accounting controls.

DOJ’s last sentence in Paragraph 10 contemplates that the CEO and CCO may, in their discretion, may consider the Independent Compliance Monitor’s certification, in reaching their own determination as to the state of the Company’s compliance program. 

Another significant consideration is the language of the CEO and CCO certification itself — which states that “such anti-corruption compliance program is reasonably designed (emphasis added) to detect and prevent violations of the [FCPA] and other anti-corruption laws throughout the company’s operations.”

In effect, CEOs and CCOs  can rely on the Independent Compliance Monitor’s certification and the limitation on its certification that the compliance program is “reasonably designed” to detect and prevent violations of the FCPA.

Even with these positive factors, however, CEOs and CCOs will need to design and implement an appropriate procedure to document their respective due diligence and analysis of the Company’s compliance program.  This consideration, at first glance, appears to be straight-forward but could quickly unravel into difficult issues.

A CCO should be able to rely on and document any internal and external reports, assessments, and reviews of the Company’s compliance program conducted as part of the remediation effort.  DOJ clearly contemplates that a Company’s compliance program over a three-year monitorship period will undergo significant change and improvement.  By definition,  a CCO will be intimately involved in this process.

The CCO’s ability to rely on these reports, assessments and reviews may require a personal review and evaluation to justify such reliance.  CCOs need to evaluate when a further examination of a specific report may be warranted.  In this situation, a CCO may have to devote and document follow-ups to specific issues flagged in the report, assessment and review.  CCO will inevitablye face difficult situations where reliance on a report may not be completely justifiable.

A further complication may arise when a Company subjects its compliance program to a robust testing and evaluation by an outside party.  in these circumstances, an independent test of an enhanced compliance program may require a CCO to review the test results carefully with a questioning eye.  This process may, in turn, delay the CCO’s certification or even raise further issues requiring analysis and review.

The risks presented by even these obvious situations are even more troublesome given the legal risks posed by acknowledgement that a “false” certification would constitute a violation of the False Statements and Obstruction of Justice criminal statutes, 18 U.S.C. §§1001, and 1519, respectively.  By conceding the issues of “materiality” under 18 U.S.C. §1001, and “tangible record” under 18 U.S.C. §1519, a CCO may be setting him or herself up for a criminal prosecution where the issue may not rise to a criminal violation.

CCOs have enough problems in the corporate governance world.  On balance, it is difficult to maintain that the CEO and CCO certification requirement is a net plus for CCO stature in the corporate governance landscape.

Given the controversy surrounding this issue, I fully expect there will be more discussion between the CCO community and DOJ.  After all, DOJ’s most important ally in the corporate world is the CCO — and DOJ should avoid any negative impact on such a critical ally.


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First election in Caricom this year brings change

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Grenadians this week began living under a new government following general elections late last week that saw a government which had won all 15 seats in the previous two elections suffer an electoral meltdown, losing nine of those parliamentary slots as the New National Party (NNP) heads into the opposition.

The Caribbean Community’s first major elections for this year mean that attorney Dickon Mitchell, 44, has been sworn in as Grenada’s new prime minister replacing long-serving Keith Mitchell—no known relation—after becoming party leader just last October.

Clearly tired and worn out by Mitchell and the NNP, Grenadians decided to give the fresh-faced attorney and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) a chance to run the mini archipelago that also includes Carriacou and Petite Martinique for the next five years.

Keith Mitchell and Mia Mottley of nearby Barbados were the only two leaders in the 15-nation bloc whose governing parties had held every single parliamentary seat and had run their countries largely without any opposition in an atmosphere of peace. In the case of Grenada, Mitchell had done it three times in the past 20 years but voters say they have had enough of nepotism, corruption, a weak economy and other problems besetting the country.

Dickon Mitchell was sworn in at the weekend as the nation’s ninth prime minister and immediately warned about a possible purge of the public service of hundreds of political appointees.

“Under my leadership I intend to break that vicious cycle of nepotism. The key criteria will be merit in particular as it relates to the government service in all aspects including the police, nurses, teachers and doctors. We need to run our country based on merit, hard work, the desire and willingness to overcome and to find solutions to the challenges that face us. We will not move forward or prosper as a people on the sole basis for job selection, promotion, for the award of contracts on party loyalty or personal loyalty,” he told a weekend forum.


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