A NYPD union head said he had told an NYPD inspector who died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound in West Babylon on Friday that he was not the focus of a federal corruption probe in the department.
Friend and union colleague Roy Richter, president of the Captains Endowment Association, said Sunday that he “assured” Insp. Michael Ameri that he “had spoken to high level people in the department and that I was told he was not a subject in a criminal probe. I told him that it may be just administrative issues.”
“I’ve known Michael for 10 years. He was on the board and had the confidence of our membership,” he said, adding he spoke with Ameri both Wednesday and Thursday.
Authorities found Ameri, 44, commander of the NYPD Highway Patrol unit, dead in his vehicle on Bergen Avenue in West Babylon on Friday afternoon.
A Suffolk police spokeswoman said Sunday that the case is considered noncriminal and she referred all other questions to the NYPD. An NYPD spokesman did not return a call for comment Sunday.
The FBI had questioned Ameri in connection with the ongoing NYPD corruption probe, but not recently, and he was not considered a focus of the probe, sources said.
The Highway Patrol unit had been raided by Internal Affairs on Thursday, union officials said.
There is a Michael Ameri of a similar age listed in records as residing in West Babylon but the NYPD has not confirmed it is the same person. Other media outlets have said he is from West Babylon.
A colleague of Ameri in the highway department, Lt. Michael Fargo, has been asked to turn over his badge and gun to the department, according to Lou Turco, president of the Lieutenants Benevolent Association.
Records show Fargo co-owns a home in Hampton Bays.
Turco said Sunday that Fargo has not been interviewed by investigators and that the department’s asking for Fargo’s gun and badge may have been “for his safety.”
Fargo “is very distraught. He is trying to see if he missed any of the signs” that Ameri was contemplating suicide, Turco said. “He didn’t see this coming,” Turco said.
Fargo, 47, put in his retirement papers for June, Turco said.
He has not been interviewed by probe investigators, he said.
“I am confident that he will retire with full duty status with his badge and gun,” said Turco, adding Fargo’s long commute from Hampton Bays to New York City influenced his decision to retire.
Ameri’s wake is scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at the Mangano Funeral Home in Deer Park. A funeral Mass will be offered Thursday at 10:15 a.m. at SS. Cyril and Methodius Roman Catholic Church, also in Deer Park. A private cremation will follow.
The FBI and Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara are investigating allegations of corruption for possible payments for favors between businessmen Jona Rechnitz and Jeremy Reichberg and current members of the NYPD. Mayor Bill de Blasio’s campaign finances are also being investigated.
“It’s making people uneasy,” Richter said of the probe. “Plenty of people are being interviewed in this federal investigation,” he said, adding he has advised members to opt out of surprise interviews by investigators at their homes.
“I am telling members to say thank you very much but I have legal union representation and we can make an appointment,” Richter said.