By LOUIS FLORES
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara delivered "off-the-record" remarks today at a Midtown luncheon gathering at McGraw Hill Financial's offices, whilst protesters outside drew attention to unprosecuted government and corporate corruption.
Mr. Bharara has cultivated the reputation as a government corruption-fighter, even as he and other top Department of Justice officials have allowed major Wall Street banks to go unprosecuted for the investment schemes that triggered the 2008 financial crisis and recession.
Recently, Mr. Bharara made waves by warning Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) about an ongoing federal investigation into the possible interference with, the abrupt closure of, and the reported witness tampering in connection with the Moreland Commission. After raising expectations that federal prosecutors would complete the unfinished corruption-fighting work of the Moreland Commission, including allegations that the Cuomo administration obstructed the panel's work, Mr. Bharara's office has refused to give voters any indication of the status of his office's investigation, drawing the ire of Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino.
At the protest against Mr. Bharara, one activist held up a sign, asking the federal prosecutor to comment about the status of his investigations into each of the Moreland Commission scandal and the controversial electioneering work done by the lobbying firm, The Advance Group, in last year's mayoral election.
Another protester outside Mr. Bharara's function held up a sign, demanding investigations into New York City's troubled 911 emergency call-taker system upgrading program, known as ECTP. That project has exceeded its budget by over $1 billion, and activists expect that fraud may have contributed to the massive cost over-run. However, thus far, there is no indication that the U.S. Attorney's Office is investigating the ECTP scandal. Many incidents document how ECTP fails to work, in spite of the huge cost of the upgrading program.
Activists also demanded a federal investigation into ongoing problem with corruption inside the New York Police Department. Separate from the NYPD's problems of police brutality and civil rights and civil liberties violations, the city's police department has been dogged by controversies involving ticket-quotas, ticket-fixing, a $1 million gun-running operation, and retaliation against whistleblowers, amongst other offenses and embarrassments. Activists accuse the NYPD's Internal Affairs Bureau of failing to investigate police misconduct and are calling on Mr. Bharara's office to lead the charge to root out corruption at the NYPD and to restore the public's faith in the city's police department.
Portions of the protest were filmed and uploaded to YouTube.