By Colleen Long
NEW YORK — A New York City police officer has been disciplined after admitting to administrative misconduct charges, the first major casualty in a lengthy, ongoing probe in the Bronx into fixing tickets, a law enforcement official said Thursday.
Gregory Manning was docked 40 days of vacation, given a five-day suspension and fined $500, according to the official who had direct knowledge of the plea but was not authorized to speak publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
The officer's lawyer had no comment.
Manning had been the financial secretary of the police union in the Bronx until last month, after losing his re-election bid. His role in the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association brass is significant because the probe appears to be zeroing in on union officials and delegates. It's believed at least a dozen officers could end up facing criminal charges, and many more could be hit with internal charges.
The investigation has also broadened to look at whether any officers received money or gifts in exchange.
The practice of fixing tickets _ undoing paperwork on traffic citations before they reach court as favors to officers' friends or relatives _ has been going on for years. It came under fire recently, however, after the NYPD's Internal Affairs Bureau stumbled across evidence in Bronx precincts while investigating an officer suspected of wrongdoing in a drug case in 2009. On a wiretap, authorities overheard talk of ticket fixing and decided to begin secretly recording other officers.
There are generally three ways the citations are fixed: They are voided by a ranking official, a copy is ripped up before it reaches court or the officer doesn't appear on the day of the summons.
Members of government and New York Yankees senior director of operations Douglas Behar had a tickets fixed, a person with knowledge of the probe has told AP.
No criminal charges have been filed and the investigation continues. The Bronx District Attorney has not commented on the investigation. Police union officials had no comment Thursday.
The law enforcement official said Manning, an officer since 1988, testified at least three times in front of a grand jury on reports of officers fixing tickets. The official said Manning would receive immunity should any criminal prosecution occur.
Last fall, the police department, which has about 35,000 officers and is easily the nation's biggest, installed a new computer system that tracks tickets and makes it much more difficult to tamper with the paper trail. NYPD commissioner Raymond Kelly recently formed a new unit within internal affairs to look into ticket fixing. Its officers would sit in on traffic court testimony and comb through paperwork to ensure none of the methods are being wrongly employed.
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Copyright 2011 Associated Press