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The Crack in the Shield

You wouldn’t dog me like this,” Spivey was recorded saying.

In the morning, the Special Prosecutor’s Office instructed Winter to take Spivey on a second narcotics run. She is alleged to have immediately agreed, and she was recorded as saying, “I want to buy a condo.”

On Winthrop Avenue, detectives stopped the car and took Winter and Spivey to the IAD building. The Special Prosecutor’s Office offered Spivey a reduced sentence if she would help determine how word of the investigation had leaked. She agreed and headed out with a micro-recorder of her own.

At the same time, Hynes said that the leak left Winter in too much jeopardy to continue. Hynes canceled plans to send Winter and his micro-recorder to a beach party with a new group of suspected cops.

That night, Brian reported for duty and heard that an IAD investigator had returned Winter’s portable radio to the stationhouse. Brian immediately checked the stationhouse log and saw a notation by the names Winter and Magno.

“It said, ‘Transferred to IAD,’” Brian later remembered.

In the back, Brian checked Winter’s locker. The IAD investigators had cut off the lock. They had carried away everything except for a single brass collar device bearing the numerals “77.”

On Saturday, September 20, Brian drove to Winter’s white frame house in Valley Stream. He did not see Winter’s car, and he went to a tag sale. He called Cathy from a pay phone to say he had found an eyelet-edged sheet set. She told him $10 was a good price, and he hurried back, only to find the set had been sold.

On a second swing by the white frame house, Brian saw a woman he recognized from pictures as Winter’s wife. He later recalled, “She looked like she had been through a war. I said, ‘I’m Brian.’ She said, ‘He’s not here and I gotta go.’ ”

As Brian began to pull away, he saw Winter drive up with some relatives. Brian later remembered, “I said, ‘Hank, how are you doing?’ He said, ‘Hey, buddy boy.’ He has a big smile on his face and he says, ‘I’ll see you later.’”

Brian returned to his apartment in Rockaway. The owner of the house in Rockville Centre called to accept Brian’s latest offer. Gallagher also telephoned and warned Brian to stay away from Winter. Brian went to Gallagher’s house in Marine Park and found his partner sitting in the dining room.

“I said, ‘What’s the problem? What’s going on?’” Brian later recalled. “He said, ‘I told my wife everything.’ I said, ‘Everything?’ He said, ‘Yeah. We could be in big trouble.’”

That Monday, Crystal Spivey appeared at the Special Prosecutor’s Office and said she would continue to wear a wire only if Hynes guaranteed her probation. Hynes said she would have to do at least a one- to three-year term. She balked, and Hynes canceled the deal.

On Tuesday morning, Chief John Guido of IAD decided he could not risk having a noncooperating Spivey tip off other officers. He reached for a folder on his desk that contained the names of thirteen targeted cops.

“Take them! Take them!” Guido was reported to have said.

Rathbun was processing a prisoner at Central Booking when he called his wife and learned that he had been suspended. Another cop was waiting with his fiancée to be seated at a restaurant when the news came over the television in the bar. Brian first understood that something had happened when his friend Patricia Cuti telephoned.

“Pat said, ‘What’s the matter, what’s going on at the precinct?’ ” Brian later recalled. “She said, ‘Turn to Channel 4.’”

When he flicked on the television, Brian heard himself named as one of the thirteen cops who had been suspended. The others included a sergeant who was often the sole supervisor of Brian’s shift in the field. Brian called the sergeant to break the news.

“I had to tell him five times. He wouldn’t believe it,” Brian later remembered.

Later that day, Brian drove to the stationhouse and went through a side door to avoid the crowd of reporters out front. An IAD investigator instructed him to surrender his guns, identification card, and gas card. The investigator followed him to his locker.

“I guess they’re afraid you’re going to blow your brains out,” Brian later said.

As he emptied his locker, Brian paused to write the single word “suspended” in his memo book. He then turned over what was required to the investigator and headed out past the front desk.

“I can remember who was standing where and what they were wearing,” Brian later said. “I remember everything in great detail, but after I left the precinct I don’t know where I went. I can’t figure out where I went.”


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