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The Crack in the Shield

As the line grew, Rathbun allegedly joined Winter in exchanging nickel bags of pot for money through the slot. They then drove to Kings Plaza shopping center. Rathbun went back to the stationhouse with a new pair of Reeboks.

Afterward, Gallagher and Brian went to the spot and allegedly tried the same stunt. The marked radio car parked outside the building apparently kept away most of the customers, and the two left with only a few dollars.

On July 30, Brian joined Gallagher and Winter in a foray to the Soul Food shop on Franklin Avenue. Brian rummaged through a hallway trash bin and found a .25-caliber automatic pistol that he later “fenced” through Winter for $100. The other cops stuffed the spot’s drugs and cash in a bag.

Apparently, everybody thought someone else had the bag, and the cops managed to leave behind the booty when they departed. Winter’s micro-recorder picked up one of the officers saying, “What are we, a bunch of f–ing Keystone Cops?”

At one point, Brian sat with Winter in a car and spoke once again of somehow getting a disability pension. Brian later remembered, “I said, ‘I wish I could care about something. I wish I could give a f– if somebody jumps out a window.’”

On August 4, Brian and Gallagher received cash from Magno. They chatted with him about guns and drugs. They spoke of a dope dealer named Herbie who was paying $1,000 a week for protection.

Later, Magno met secretly with an IAD detective at Ocean Parkway and Avenue C. Magno gave the detective a micro-cassette. The detective handed Magno a new tape and fresh batteries for the recorder. The detective then wrote a report headed “77 Pct. payoffs tape retrieval and debriefing of P.O. Magno.” The document reads in part:

Gallagher received from P.O. Magno $635 u.s.c. for himself and his partner in reference to worksheet #486 for drugs. P.O. Gallagher agreed to sell guns to P.O. Magno’s alleged fence. P.O. Gallagher stated that the drug dealer he and his partner P.O. O’Regan are protecting is looking to expand his operation to either 173 or 193 Buffalo Ave., exact location and time unknown. Drug dealer’s name is Herbie, 1369 St. John’s Place. Gallagher told Magno that anti-crime hit Herbie’s place.... Gallagher felt that Winter should have steered Anti-Crime away from Herbie’s.

P.O. Magno engaged in conversation with P.O. O’Regan. O’Regan told him that a rival of Herbie was hit in order to be in good standing with Herbie. O’Regan also mentioned that himself and his partner P.O. Gallagher received #2,010 u.s.c. from Herbie as pay-¬off money. O’Regan further stated that now Winter and Magno can get rid of drugs at a more profitable rate, Roy’s services will no longer be needed.

At the Special Prosecutor’s Office, the report went into a file of more than 900 such documents. Photos of Brian and Gallagher and Rathbun were pinned on a wall of the “Target Room” under the heading “Criminal.” These were joined by pictures of close to 25 others. Still more were under the headings “Administrative” and “Possible,” and the overall total rose to almost 50 of the precinct’s 200-odd cops.

Rumors were by then circulating that Winter and Magno were wired. Rathbun patted Winter down, without discovering the micro-recorder. Brian arrived for work and saw that somebody had scrawled the word “rat” on Winter’s locker.

“I ¬didn’t believe it,” Brian later said. “Not Hank.”

At the front desk, a fellow cop called Gallagher aside and gave him a friendly word of warning. Gallagher shrugged and was heard to say, “Anybody who steals out there is crazy.”

On September 4, police officer Crystal Spivey allegedly accepted $500 to help Winter escort a narcotics shipment. They drove to the post office at Third Avenue and 29th Street in Sunset Park, and an undercover cop posing as a dope dealer appeared with a kilo of cocaine. Winter and Spivey then drove to the Canarsie Pier. IAD detectives in a nearby van videotaped Spivey handing the shipment to a second “dealer.”

By then, Brian had begun speaking of marrying a young woman named Cathy. He looked at a modest house in Rockville Centre and started negotiating with the owner. He later said, “All I want is a house. Just a house and a wife and a child.”

Still, Brian would leave Cathy’s apartment each work night and find himself in another raid on a narcotics spot. He and Gallagher allegedly agreed to assist the pusher Herbie by eliminating a competing location at 233 Utica Avenue. They hit the place again and again.

On the night of September 17, the dealer named Roy approached Winter in the precinct and said that the proprietors of the Utica Avenue location had decided to shoot the next cop who came through the door. Winter immediately relayed the information to IAD. The same evening, Spivey went up to Winter at the stationhouse. She asked to speak to him in private, and they went outside to his car. She announced she had been tipped by a sergeant from another precinct that he was wearing a wire. She frisked him and failed to find the recorder taped to his crotch. Her suspicions were apparently allayed.


  • Archive: “Features
  • From the Dec 8, 1986 issue of New York