- CORRUPTION V.S. BRIBERY
This story deals with a fundamental concept : the difference between corruption and bribery. Corruption implies an intensive effort to manipulate government for the general good. There is a clear understanding that a large profit will be involved with the subsequent development of jobs, new business efforts, further investments and improvement of society’s well being.
Those instigating the corrupt act must by definition be of a higher social order than those being corrupted. Since in a republic the highest order of activity is making money, it therefore follows that businessmen will usually be at the core of most corrupt activities. This is as it should be, facilitating the continued accumulation of additional profits which serves to enrich all members of the community by the development of new products, jobs and increased payment of taxes to increase governmental activities. This, in turn, leads to more individuals to corrupt and thence to more good.
Bribery, on the other hand, bears the connotation of evil. It invariably involves a selfish act, benefiting no one but the briber, and to a small extent the bribee, which in turn makes turning the briber down or turning him in so much easier.
Now we must be careful to clarify some things about the social order to avoid confusion. One is not classified solely according to his or her paycheck. For example, if one offers money to a sanitation officer who has just cited him for leaving his garbage can uncovered, that is a bribe and should be condemned. It doesn’t matter if the offender is a business man, a dentist, schoolteacher, and so forth, since the inspector represents a higher order of society (i.e. sanitation workers in general) and the bribe had nothing to do with the bribers business interests.
Suppose a series of uncovered garbage cans were used to create a smell bad enough to induce certain tenants to vacate an apartment house so it could be razed to construct a new tire factory. If under these conditions a sanitation inspector received a bit of financial help in buying a new house, that is absolutely acceptable, and perhaps even desirable under the circumstances. Think of the widespread use of tires in society, and the number of jobs provided — a staggering advantage over a few tenants who probably wouldn’t want to live near a tire factory anyway.
A Force for Good
Tom Dolan muttered to himself in the locker room as put the final touches on his uniform : “I don’t know how I’m gonna tolerate another fucking briefing from that fucking lieutenant”. He visualized himself sacking out on one of the back seats at the station house. “That bastard catches me again, he’ll have my balls”.
“Cut it out, Tom”, said Sonny ‘the Leech’. “That cocksucker’s got to do something for a living.” Sonny was twenty-two years old, dark and handsome, but short. Five feet nine in height with slicked black hair, he contrasted sharply with the six foot three heavier Dolan. He had been teamed with the more experienced Dolan over the past ten months. They made a good pair. Tom’s curses rolled off Sonny easily, and they seemed to take each others criticisms without animosity. Tom lectured incessantly about the evils of the force and Sonny not believing any of that crap, agreed with all the comments.
Actually, Sonny’s real name was Salvatore Lichiessani, and ‘the Leech’ stemmed from the fact that no one at the station house could pronounce his name. For three months the men searched for a short nickname and the ideal one presented itself in August of the previous year. Sonny had made a collar on some old drunk who was walking around the neighborhood shops with mirrors taped to his shoes, looking up the dresses of a varied assortment of clerks, secretaries, and housewives when Sonny spotted him. Unfortunately, in applying the handcuffs, Sonny had gotten one cuff caught in the margin of his pants pocket. Not willing to admit his mistake, he brought the guy in by keeping his left leg locked around the prisoner’s right thigh. The drunk, of course, was excited by the whole prospect, and it wasn’t until Tom Dolan slipped Sonny the key that they got disentangled.
Tom kept his mouth shut and the two became close friends from then on. Of course, the nickname was applied instantly by Benny Lampert the station’s recording sergeant who was thoroughly impressed by the vigilance and determination of the cop in not letting his prisoner have sufficient breathing room. Benny couldn’t understand, however, why the drunk kept smiling all through the booking.
The officers filed out of the locker room and grabbed seats on the scattered wooden folding chairs facing the large district map. Pins of different colors marked the local crime locations reported during the past week. The loud din gradually subsided as lieutenant John Crockett (‘the crotch’ as labeled by Benny) slowly entered the room. It was clear at once that he was going to have trouble negotiating the short step onto the platform when Benny firmly grasped his elbow and led to the small podium in front of the map.
“Get your fuckin’ hands off me, you prick” he muttered as he stumbled up and leaned heavily on the lectern.
“Cocksucker” murmured Tom, and four neighboring cops nodded in agreement.
“I have a major announcement to make to you gentlemen” started Crockett. “We have received a special commendation from the New York Times for the decrease in assault and rape rate in our district. The diligence and hard work of the members of this station house received the notice of the commissioner, and congratulatory notices have been placed in the files of every member of this precinct. Keep up the good work and more commendations will be forthcoming.”
“What the fuck is talking about” whispered John Banks, who had singly brought in four girls the previous night who were victims of a gang bang on Fourteenth Street.
Tom turned to him, “The idiot lost all the green pins last month. He’s been sticking the map with yellow ones. He ain’t sayin anything about the embezzlement rate which tripled over the same time. Well be flooded with those non-uniform types from Central if he keeps up this shit!”
Crockett continued “. . . and the Times is considering offering a special award to the Benefit Fund in our names if we can do the same thing for muggings over the next month.”
“Tell Benny to dump the red pins, we’ll make a fucking fortune, In fact hide >em all for a week and we can all take a vacation.” said Tom quietly.
Then began a street by street outline of the crimes committed during the past twenty-four hours. Two murders on Eighteenth street, three on Second avenue, two assaults on Twenty-third street, a hit and run at Fourteenth street and Third, three robberies and so forth. By the time Crockett had passed over the map once, he had trouble finding a spot for any additional pins. He turned to face the men. “You gentlemen better move your asses and bring in some of these hoods or the Commissioner is gonna wonder what the fuck you’re doin every night.”
The men were impressed by the crime wave in their district, and then it came . . .
“And let me add one little thing. You bastards want to get paid, don’t you? Well the city’s broke. Last week I passed out a new summons book to every cop and nobody’s asked for a replacement. Well you’re gonna get one tonight and let me tell you that if your not using it by tomorrow morning you’d better have a good excuse. I’m gonna be out patrolling tonight and if I find one bastard passing a red light who don’t have a cop on his tail, there’s gonna be hell to pay.”
“Shit”, muttered Sonny.
“Fuckoff\” murmured Tom
It was three a.m. Tom and Sonny were parked in an unmarked patrol car with their lights off. Sonny started to doze off when Tom poked him softly with his elbow.
“Look at that. Those bastards have circled the block three times already. Looks like a hit.”
Sonny looked up in time to see the late model green chevy roll around Fourteenth street and cut on to First avenue. It was cruising at about fifteen miles per hour, close to the curb. Both men noticed at once that the car slowed passing Feinberg’s jewelry store.
“You’re right”, said Sonny. “It’s going to be a fast hit and run for the stuff in the window. Why the hell did Feinberg leave that jewelry in his window tonight? He usually cleans it out.”
“He’s got that bIg sale on tomorrow and he wants to get an early start. He usually asks us to watch things when he leaves the jewelry out.”
“Schmuck” said Sonny. “It’s just there inviting trouble.”
Albert Shawn Goldstein had just turned fifty and was starting a new life. His wife of thirty years had walked out three months earlier and the kids were on their own. He couldn=t believe he could enjoy life so much. He was getting laid regularly for the first time, and hadn’t had more than four hours sleep in each of the last twelve nights. But he loved every minute of it. And now he had something he’d always wanted to own — a brand new Corvette. He hummed the motor at each traffic light. Listening to the sound made him feel as though he were ready for a part in a major movie. Just breaking it in, he thought, driving twenty miles an hour. Plenty of time to gun it later. He promised himself that he was never going to scratch the paint on this red beauty. It was his, a symbol of a new freedom. He was determined never to clean the front seats, but watch the red, blonde and brunette hairs accumulate on the velour.
He rounded Tenth street onto First avenue and headed for his new East Side pad. It was 3:15 a.m.
“Quit poking me with your fucking elbow, for chrissake, I see ’em.
The green chevy was moving up First avenue at a slow pace.
“This is it”, said Tom, fingering the car keys in the ignition. “We’ll pull out and cut ’em off.. You take the car and I’ll take the prick that smashes the window. What a shocker!”
The chevy halted in front of Feinberg=s. Only a small streetlight illuminated the area and shadows covered the entrance to the store and most of the street. The silence was broken by a shattering of glass and the shrieking of Feinberg=s alarm. At the same moment Tom gunned his ignition and started to move out.
“Did you see that?” yelled Sonny.
“What?” asked Tom.
“That Corvette just went through a yellow light.”
“But you’re allowed to go through a yellow light.”
“Not in a Corvette. Go get him.”
“But what about Feinberg’s? We got the bastards lined up.”
“Fuck >em, we’ll get them some other time.”
The unmarked patrol car sped out onto the center of First avenue turned uptown and headed for the Corvette. Lights were going on in some storefront apartments in response to the window smashing and alarm.
Goldstein couldn’t believe what was happening. Two policemen in a car were waving him frantically over to the curb, lights were going on in buildings, somewhere an alarm was ringing. He never saw the overturned garbage pail as he swerved toward the curb, hit the pail, jumped onto the sidewalk and smashed his fender against the fireplug. “Oh my God,” said Goldstein, “if those guys are phonies this will be the highest class mugging they’ve had in this neighborhood in years.”
A few minutes later Sonny was speaking to a dazed and traumatized Goldstein: “Albert Shawn Goldstein — where do you think you\’re going? Traffic lights are meant for the night as well the day.” He fingered the license and registration in his hand.
“Officer I was only going twenty miles an hour, The light was yellow, it wasn’t red.”
“Well sir,” said Sonny, ” I think you passed a red light and will have to be cited.” He started to pull out his violation book.
“Look, can’t we do something about this?” Goldstein began to slide his hand into his back pocket, reaching for his wallet. “I don’t have any violations, and I don’t have time to take care of all this. What do you say.”
Sonny looked down at the pale man squirming in front of him. He saw a twenty dollar bill being shoved toward him.
“Are you offering this to forget the ticket?” asked Sonny.
“Look officer, take it if you want it. Let’s say it’s a donation to the P.A.L.”
Goldstein felt Tom’s hand firmly grasp his left shoulder. “Okay sir, that’s attempted bribery. You’ll have to come down to the station.”
“Aw — come on”
Goldstein felt the handcuffs quickly applied and himself forcefully being pulled from the Corvette and seated in the patrol car.
It all seemed like a dream as he heard the policeman murmuring something about his right to contact a lawyer and that anything he said would be held against him, and that the judge would not be in until Monday morning – obviously indicating at least three nights in jail.
“For Christsake,” he thought, “I only passed a yellow light.”
Tom pulled Sonny aside. “Look Sonny,” he said, “take him down and book him and then come back and pick me up on Nineteenth and Second.”
“Where are you going?”
“Tonight’s the fifth and Harrigan’s Bar is two weeks behind on the “vig”. I’m goin’ to pick up some cash for the boys. I’ll be in the bar when you get back.”