Inspector Michael Ameri, 44, head of the Highway District, “felt his career was in jeopardy” as the feds and IAB eyed unauthorized escorts for members of the Orthodox Jewish community, the sources said.
“They went to his stationhouse [Thursday] to get the escort logs. After that, someone called him,” a law enforcement said, referring to the unit’s facility on Grand Central Parkway in Queens.
IAB cops took two years worth of police escort files in the surprise raid.
“He was very distraught about the visit. He felt his career was in jeopardy and he couldn’t deal with the stress and the not knowing when everything was going to come to a head,” said another source.
Ameri — the divorced father of a teenaged son — was found dead in his department-issued black Ford Taurus at 12:42 p.m. by Suffolk County homicide cops alongside Bergen Point Golf Course in West Babylon, about four miles from his house, sources said.
Witnesses told police Ameri’s car had been parked on the southbound shoulder of the road for more than 5 hours before his body was found inside.
Investigators are examining whether cops provided police escorts for funerals and other events in exchange for cash and gifts — including from businessman Jona Rechnitz and Jeremy Reichberg.
[. . .]
One of Ameri’s closest friends in the Highway District put in his retirement papers on Wednesday, the same day the escort records were removed, sources said.
A source said Ameri was so spooked by the probe that he distanced himself from the Brooklyn’s Orthodox Jewish community.
Lichtenstein, a Borough Park Shomrim patrol leader, was arrested by the feds on April 17 on charges he paid off cops for the gun permits.
[. . .]
Ameri was named commanding officer of the patrol unit, which investigates serious accidents, in May 2014.
Previously, he was commanding officer of the 78th Precinct in Park Slope, where he was friendly with Mayor de Blasio, who lived in the neighborhood.
He was considered a key player in implementing de Blasio’s Vision Zero program to reduce traffic deaths.
[. . .]
Investigators are looking at the escort allegations along with other potential corruption, including cops taking cash for expediting gun permits and getting luxe perks such as a flight so Las Vegas — with a hooker on board — from the Rechnitz and Reichberg.
Two NYPD cops suddenly retired from the gun-licensing division to start a business helping people get pistol permits — at the same time Lichtenstein was allegedly bribing officers in that Brooklyn unit.
Another cop was stripped of his gun and badge after he tried to retire last month — prompting his suspension because he was still a target of the federal corruption probe.
By Jamie Schram, Danika Fears and Bob Fredericks
New York Post