State Police investigators are looking into several complaints of improper activities within the Niagara Falls Police Department.
The investigation, requested by Niagara County District Attorney Peter Broderick, comes at the same time as an FBI probe involving the Niagara Falls mayor and relates mainly to allegations raised in a Buffalo News series earlier this year.
There is also a new development that is not yet part of Broderick's probe but has interested State Police investigators. There is a complaint that contends the department sidestepped its own consulting psychologist and accelerated the hiring of Inspector James C. Galie's son, John, who failed a psychological test for patrolman this summer.
John Galie was sworn in during a special ceremony Nov. 15, which means he could serve the one-year probation required of rookies before the next mayor takes office in January 1992.
Several other police candidates have passed their psychological exams and entered the police academy. These graduates will take the departmental oath early in 1991.
Because he failed his first psychological test, John Galie will have to attend the academy's next cycle. Until then, he is assigned to clerical duties on the force, except for one day a week when he rides on patrol as an observer.
Some police sources believe the inspector's son was sworn in before the end of 1990 because of uncertainty that Mayor Michael C. O'Laughlin, 74, will finish his term.
In October, sources said the FBI had played video and audio tapes for O'Laughlin that the sources claimed showed the mayor accepting a $2,000 payment from an undercover FBI agent. After that, subpoenas were issued to local officials to testify before a federal grand jury looking into government dealings in Niagara Falls.
Many law enforcement sources believe the FBI showed O'Laughlin the tapes to pressure him to give information on bigger targets of the four-year-old probe.
And last week, the Police Department assigned the mayor a 24-hour bodyguard after he said he had received threats from unknown parties.
But Broderick said the Galie matter is not currently part of his work.
"That has nothing to do with my investigation, at least at this point," the district attorney said today. "Those are internal, administrative matters. . . . How they run the department is none of my business."
"That could become part of my investigation, but at this time it isn't," Broderick said.
If the mayor is indicted on federal charges or if he retires, Police Chief Anthony C. Fera, now in his 30th year on the force, also might retire.
Police officials have tried to downplay rumors of impending resignations.
At a police Christmas party attended by Inspector Galie and Fera last week, Capt. Louis Curcione, chief of detectives, addressed the officers and said rumors of Fera's impending retirement are untrue.
Investigators have learned that after young Galie failed the first psychological test, a second psychologist was hired to administer a test.
When he passed that test, the department's psychologist -- who had refused to retest Galie -- said he still had reservations but reversed his earlier denial. The Municipal Civil Service Commission then approved Galie's appointment, and he was quickly sworn in with one other man.
Asked Sunday about the procedures followed in his hiring, John Galie said he had no comment.
State police are looking into circumstances surrounding the department's attempt to have the Civil Service Commission abolish the test requirement and replace it with a committee to pass on appointments.
Fera submitted the idea to City Administrator Mark Palesh some time before the second test.
Palesh wrote a letter to the Civil Service Commission supporting Fera's proposal, then angrily sent a second letter withdrawing his support after learning that Galie's son was among those who recently had failed the psychological test.
The inspector's older son, James, also is a patrolman.
Civil Service officials in Albany say that abolishing the psychological test would be legal -- but only if the city first exhausted the current list, since some of these applicants already had to pass such a test.
Ignoring this advice but wary of the legal ramifications, Niagara Falls officials have sent letters advising six others who failed the psychological exam that they have a right to a second test.
Broderick said the State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation is examining several allegations raised in a series of articles in The Buffalo News:
That Fera and Inspector Galie systematically transferred, as "punishment," at least six officers who were active in the police union.
A seventh union leader was fired. Lt. Robert Kerins recently won a court appeal for his reinstatement, with $50,000 in back pay, after he was discharged for being in a bar after closing hours. He now is appealing his demotion to patrolman.
That senior police officials pressured detectives to buy $20 tickets to a political fund-raiser for O'Laughlin's 1987 primary campaign and punished those who refused.
Richard Clute, a retired lieutenant in charge of homicide, said in May that Fera had told him to sell tickets to his detectives in the fall of 1987.
Fera has called Clute a liar.
Another source, who asked to remain anonymous, recently revealed that a new target of ticket-selling complaints is Capt. Stephen Gadacz Sr., head of the Criminal Intelligence Unit and touted as the most likely successor to Fera.
"Gadacz not only pressured officers to buy tickets," the source said, "but he bought one for a detective, William Clark, and told Clark, 'You owe me 20 bucks.' And then he went upstairs (in Police Headquarters) and boasted that he had 100 percent participation in his unit."
"I've got news for you," Gadacz said Sunday when asked about it. "If William Clark told you that, he's a liar. I've never done any such thing. That's crazy. I don't believe you're pursuing this thing."
"The quickest way to bring the city down is by attacking their Police Department," Gadacz went on. "Do you want crime to run rampant? Are you on the side of what's fair and what's right, or are you on the side of the bad guys? All you are doing is dragging the good name of the City of Niagara Falls through the mud, and you are the one vehicle that's doing it."
Clark, now retired, said he did not feel free to confirm or deny the report.
That police officers in recent years have been hindered or punished for pursuing investigations against certain gambling figures.
One allegation is that Fera ordered a detective not to charge or subpoena the landlord of a building where a dice game had been raided after weeks of surveillance.
Clark, now retired, told The News in March that Fera ordered him not to subpoena Mario "Blacky" Talarico after a police raid at the City Market in March 1988.
Clark defied Fera's orders and issued Talarico a subpoena to testify against the gamblers. Ten days later, the detective was transferred to a patrol division.
The department's posture throughout all this has been to dismiss the allegations as the grumblings of a few malcontents.
Asked about the current State Police interviews, Broderick said: "The manpower problem has been obviated. There is an investigation going on. I can't comment on the length, the breadth or the depth of it."