The New York City Correction Department’s top internal affairs official, who was demoted after accusations that he eavesdropped on telephone conversations between city investigators and their jailhouse informers on Rikers Island, was fired this week, reports the New York Times. Gregory Kuczinski, deputy commissioner of investigations, was initially stripped of his duties on May 8. The jails agency took that action after the Investigation Department made the accusations in a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio. The accusations of spying on city investigators as they were conducting undercover anticorruption operations, along with a city report about the misuse of agency vehicles by correction commissioner Joseph Ponte, Kuczinski and other top staff members, as well as the disclosure that the commissioner had been out of state for 90 days last year, prompted Ponte to announce that he would resign.
The troubled jails agency was under intense scrutiny well before the Investigation Department’s allegations surfaced. The charges prompted further questions about the management of the agency from the City Council and city and state oversight boards. Yesterday, Correction Department spokesman,Peter Thorne said that, “Following several days of careful evaluation, Commissioner Ponte determined termination [of Kuczinski] was appropriate.” the statement said. Ponte had earlier defended Kuczinski.