NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- In a stunning development in the New York City corruption scandal, two senior commanders who lost their guns and badges for refusing to testify before a grand jury have been quietly reinstated so they can retire with honor, and get something called a "good-guy letter."
As CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported, police Commissioner Bill Bratton has decided to reinstate Deputy Chief John Sprague and Inspector Peter DeBlasio. The two police officials had been put on modified duty, and stripped of their guns and badges, because they refused to answer questions in front of a grand jury.
The decision by Bratton raises a lot of questions – a big one being why two senior commanders are being allowed to leave the department on good terms even though they apparently had enough information about corruption that federal prosecutors wanted them to testify before a grand jury.
Some experts wonder if it is because they had top jobs.
"You have this like tale of two departments," said former NYPD Detective Joe Giacalone. "You know, if you're an upper echelon kind of person and you get in trouble, we make one deal. But if you're a low-level police officer or sergeant, there's another deal."
Giacalone, now a professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said he has "seen people get jammed up for a lot less."
Bratton's move means Sprague and DeBlasio -- the latter no relation to Mayor Bill de Blasio – will get special official references from the NYPD called "good-guy letters." It means they will be able to keep their weapons, which is especially helpful to retired police officers, who often seek security jobs.
"Without that good-guy letter, you don't get your guns," Giacalone said.
Bratton himself explained the importance of the good-guy letter after the arrests this week of Deputy Chief Michael Harrington and Deputy Inspector James Grant. They were allowed to retire, but not with the coveted perk.
"What he does not get from the department would be the permission to carry a firearm – the 'good-guy letter,'" Bratton said this past Monday. "As far as the department is concerned, that is leaving the department not in good standing."
Meanwhile, CBS2 has also learned that the commissioner is also allowing several other top cops linked to the scandal to retire. They include Deputy Chief David Colon and Deputy Chief Eric Rodriguez, who were transferred out of their posts as the investigation proceeded, and Chief Andrew Capul, who lost his gun and badge.
It is unclear whether the three will get good-guy letters. Sources told CBS2 that each case is being evaluated separately.
"The public's going to think this treatment," Giacalone said. "I mean, we don't know all the facts of the case right now. We don't know if this is part of a deal with the federal government involved in this. We don't know just yet."
Sources said Bratton is trying to get all the tainted cops out of the department and put the scandal behind him.
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