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De Blasio waves off questions on arrest phone call

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks to the media after he delivered remarks to clergy during a breakfast in support of Mayor de Blasio's Universal Pre-K plan at Bethany Baptist Church on Feb. 11, 2014. Credit: Charles Eckert

Mayor Bill de Blasio declined Wednesday to discuss his unusual personal call to a high-ranking NYPD official about an ally who was arrested on outstanding warrants after an alleged traffic infraction.

Bishop Orlando Findlayter, pastor of the New Hope Christian Fellowship church in Brooklyn and an early endorser of de Blasio's mayoral bid, was freed from lockup with a desk appearance ticket after the arrest late Monday instead of being forced to spend the night behind bars before seeing a judge, as is standard procedure.

De Blasio's staff has said the mayor's call, to Deputy Chief Kim Royster, was just to inquire and that the mayor never asked for any special treatment. Royster says the decision to spare Findlayter had been made before the mayor's call. The mayor's press office has not responded to questions seeking more details about de Blasio's call.

City Comptroller Scott Stringer Wednesday described his fellow Democrat's actions as "problematic."

"It is problematic because it raises questions, even though your intention was good and I certainly believe the mayor and take the mayor at his word," Stringer said. He added: "when you make that call, you do have to answer a lot of questions."

De Blasio declined to answer a question on the call Wednesday, calling it "off-topic" while he was fielding other reporter queries at City Hall on his budget plan.

Findlayter, who served on de Blasio's inaugural committee, allegedly failed to signal a left turn, police said.

Officers who pulled him over found that the vehicle's auto insurance had lapsed and that Findlayter had warrants for failing to show up to court for civil disobedience arrests, Royster said Tuesday. Findlayter blamed the oversight on his attorneys and the warrants have since been vacated.


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