EXCLUSIVE: Retired NYPD Det. William Nolan disputes NY Post story, files federal lawsuit against top NYPD officials - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

EXCLUSIVE: Retired NYPD Det. William Nolan disputes NY Post story, files federal lawsuit against top NYPD officials

In an exclusive interview with the Baltimore Post-Examiner, retired New York City Police Department Detective William Nolan, claimed that a December 29, 2018 New York Post article, Ex-detective with ‘s—t list’ caught with weapons stockpile in home,” does not tell the full story, incorrectly portrays him as an emotionally disturbed person, and contains false information.

Nolan told the Baltimore Post-Examiner that he was being retaliated against by the NYPD because he made complaints against police personnel stemming from a harassment complaint that he filed against another citizen that was not investigated by the police.

Detective William Nolan

The NY Post described Nolan as a “ticking time bomb” who had a cache of weapons that were seized by police after he allegedly sent bizarre and threatening e-mails to former police colleagues and NYPD brass.

The NY Post stated that the NYPD executed a search warrant at Nolan’s Staten Island home on Dec. 20 and seized two shotguns, two stun guns, and four high-capacity magazines and that the raid came after months of bizarre behavior by Nolan who frequently wears a body camera and “would send creepy messages to anyone on his long “s—t list,” according to an unnamed source.

The Post quoted an unidentified former colleague of Nolan’s: “I’m glad they took the guns away from him,” “This guy is a ticking time bomb.”

The article goes on to say that sources said that Nolan sent e-mails under the name “toolbox63,” titled “Mass Fatality Human Remains Sealing Machine,” and attached was an 18-minute commercial video showing a simulated mass-casualty event in which responders use a new device to wrap corpses in body bags.

The Post’s source stated that Nolan started sending out e-mails in late February of 2018. “Whether he was doing business with you or whether you were providing a service to him, he thought he was being screwed,” the source said, who in March notified the NYPD’s License Division about Nolan’s behavior and e-mails.

According to the Post, on March 14, the NYPD license division notified Nolan that his handgun license had been suspended because of his “failure to notify the division of numerous incidents.” Nolan was directed to surrender all his firearms to the police.

The next day, the story said, NYPD lawyer Larry Byrne sent Nolan a “cease and desist” letter ordering him to stop emailing Internal Affairs Bureau Chief Joseph Reznick and NYPD Chief of Staff Raymond Spinella and if continued he would risk arrest. The Post alleges that Reznick and dozens of other cops were targets of Nolan’s e-mails.

Two days after receiving that letter the Post wrote that “toolbox63” began blasting out his body-bag video to many on his hit list, but not to the two NYPD chiefs, a police source said.

Nolan is out on $5,000 bail, the article said.

The Baltimore Post-Examiner obtained several court records one of which indicates that the search warrant that was executed at Nolan’s home in December was not for weapons but for computers, electronic devices, and other items relating to an investigation of falsely reporting an incident or harassment.

The weapons were found incident to the search of Nolan’s home.

Nolan told the Baltimore Post-Examiner that he did not send the body bag video that is described in the Post article to anyone. Nolan said he never heard of it before and it was only after the article was published that he went online to try to find what the video was all about.

Nolan told the Baltimore Post-Examiner that he has no shit list or hit list and never threatened anyone in any email or in person.

The photograph of Nolan with the mask on top of his head as shown in the Post story, Nolan told the BPE that he did not send that out to anyone. It was taken by Sal Sportiello, the owner of the auto repair shop where he was injured on Sept. 28, 2016. Nolan said Sportiello took that photo of him wearing the mask which he found in Sportiello’s shop. The photo was taken about two months prior to when he was injured. He said he was goofing around and placed the mask on top of his head.

There appears to be more to this story.

Federal lawsuit filed against NYPD officials

On January 9, the day Nolan appeared in court to be arraigned, attorneys from the law firm of Borelli and Associates filed a lawsuit in US District Court for the Eastern District of New York, on behalf of William Nolan, the Plaintiff.

Nolan told the Baltimore Post-Examiner that on January 9 when his defense attorney asked the district attorney for a copy of the affidavit for probable cause that was used by the police for the issuance of the search warrant at his residence, they were told that the affidavit was not available because it was being “redacted.”

Nolan said his attorney found out that a confidential source was not used in the affidavit, and as of Monday, he still does not have a copy of the affidavit for probable cause.

Joseph Reznick NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Internal Affairs

The defendants listed in Nolan’s lawsuit are NYPD officials Joseph Reznick, Raymond Spinella, Lawrence Byrne, Michael Barreto and Asif Iqbal.

The Complaint, obtained by the Baltimore Post-Examiner in part states that the civil action is for damages based upon violations of Nolan’s rights guaranteed to him by the Freedom of Speech and Right to Petition provisions of the First Amendment of the US Constitution; the prohibition against unreasonable seizures provision of the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution, and the Second Amendment, each made applicable to the Defendants vis-à-vis the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

The complaint states that Nolan is a retired, decorated NYPD detective who dedicated much of his career to rooting out corruption in the NYPD. In February 1986, while he was still in the NYPD Academy, plaintiff was recruited to work as an undercover operative for what was then named the Internal Affairs Division (IAD). He started as an undercover IAD officer later that year.

In 1989, he was placed in “deep undercover” and his personnel folder and records were altered to indicate that he had been terminated by the NYPD. He was given a new identity and changed his physical appearance by growing long hair and facial hair, piercing his ears, and tattooing his body.

As a deep undercover officer, he worked on several investigations involving drug trafficking and illegal firearms sales by active duty, retired, and former NYPD officers. Plaintiff’s dedication to rooting out corruption in the NYPD resulted in several high-profile arrests and convictions, which in turn resulted in a contract being put on his head. Indeed, his decorated service as an undercover officer has earned him the indelible label of “Rat” and regrettably made him a target for revenge by unscrupulous individuals, including current, former, and retired members of the NYPD.

Plaintiff has also been harassed and threatened for over two years by Jose Rodriquez, an individual who has ties to the 121st Precinct of the NYPD, Staten Island, NY, and who has told Plaintiff that the 121st Precinct officers refer to plaintiff as an “IAB Rat.”

From about 1995 to 2002, plaintiff and Matthew Harrington, the Commanding Officer of the 121st Precinct, worked in the same building on Staten Island. Harrington, along with many other officers, routinely refused to speak to plaintiff during those years because of his background in IAD.

To protect himself and his wife from multiple threats, the plaintiff has chosen to exercise his Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms for self-protection by maintaining a New York City handgun license and five handguns.

Starting on November 27, 2017, Plaintiff exercised his First Amendment right to free speech, and to petition the government to redress grievances, by: (a) filing multiple reports with the NYPD Internal Affairs Bureau (“IAB” – formerly known as IAD) complaining about, and seeking redress, the intentional failures of the 121st Precinct to investigate complaints that he had properly made against Rodriguez for aggravated harassment; (b) submitting a complaint to James O’Neil, the NYPD Police Commissioner, reporting and seeking to redress the 121st Precinct’s failure to investigate his complaints and IAB’s failure to respond to his request for assistance; (c) reporting to senior NYPD officials, including Defendant Reznick, the Deputy Commissioner of IAB, and Defendant Spinella, the Chief of Staff of the NYPD Commissioner’s Office, to seek redress for IAB’s intentional failure to properly investigate the 121st Precinct’s reprehensible conduct; (d) reporting to senior NYPD officials, including Reznick and Spinella, to seek redress for the 121st Precinct and IAB intentionally losing or destroying (colloquially referred to in the NYPD as “shit-canning”) complaints and evidence that Plaintiff had submitted regarding Rodriguez and the 121st Precinct; (e) openly questioning Reznick’s and Spinella’s lack of control over their subordinates; (f) submitting a Freedom of Information Law (“FOIL”) request for information related to his complaints against Rodriguez and for IAB reports regarding the 121st Precinct; and (g) filing a complaint reporting the unlawful actions of Defendants Reznick and Barreto, the Commanding Officer of the NYPD License Division, as well as non-party License Division officers Detective Daniel Aybar, Sgt. Brian Herbert, and Sgt. Martin Browne, and Inspector Matthew Harrington, to the New York City Department of Investigations (“NYCDOI”).

From November 27, 2017 through to the present, while acting under the color of law and by way of authority and power granted to them by the City, and in accordance with the customs and usages of the NYPD, Reznick and Spinella, as well as Defendants Byrne, the Deputy Commissioner of Legal Matters for the NYPD Legal Bureau, Barreto and Iqbal, the Executive Officer of the NYPD License Division, all of whom were collectively responsible for the depravation of Plaintiff’s rights, as well as their agents, engaged in unlawful conduct by blatantly retaliating against him for exercising his First Amendment rights to free speech and to petition the government by: (a) willfully or recklessly ignoring, if not actually ordering, the shit-canning of Plaintiff’s complaints to the 121st Precinct and IAB; (b) suspending his license to possess handguns without cause, which is also in violation of his Second Amendment rights; (c) confiscating his license and handguns without cause; (d) while knowing that Plaintiff was the victim of aggravated harassment and threats from Rodriguez, intentionally leaking to Rodriguez the fact that Plaintiff’s handguns had been confiscated; (e) interfering with his rights to have his license reinstated and his handguns returned; (f) threatening him with criminal or civil prosecution under circumstances that could not justify either; and (g) denying his FOIL request and interfering with an investigation by the NYCDOI into the allegations that Plaintiff made against Defendants Reznick and Barreto, as well as non-party NYPD officers Aybar, Herbert, Browne, and Harrington.

Defendants’ seizure of Plaintiff’s license and handguns was clearly unlawful and therefore in violation of the Fourth Amendment. Defendants Iqbal and Barreto intentionally misstated the language of [the law] in the Suspension Notice issued to him in order to justify the suspension and confiscation of his license and handguns. The License Division did not conduct a review and evaluation prior to issuing the Notice to him, as is required by [the law]. Nothing in [the law] authorizes the suspension of a license or seizure of firearms for failing to report “situations,” as opposed to “incidents.” The suspension of Plaintiff’s license was ordered by Reznick, in coordination with a frivolous Cease and Desist letter issued by Byrne on behalf of Spinella and Reznick, who has no authority under [the law] to direct such an action. Defendants’ actions, including misstating the law, not following required procedures, and acting on unlawful orders, establish that they clearly knew that the suspension of his license and seizure of his handguns was unlawful and therefore in violation of his Fourth Amendment rights.

According to the Complaint:

On or about October 12, 2016, Rodriguez, a tow truck operator, began harassing Nolan after Nolan sued an auto-repair shop located in Staten Island, NY, and its owner, Salvatore Sportiello, with whom Rodriguez was friends with and whom he performed tow services for. Nolan’s suit was for an injury that he incurred at Sportiello’s shop.

Rodriguez’s actions started with harassing phone calls and then quickly progressed to threatening and harassing emails to Nolan. Eventually, Rodriguez began driving his tow-truck by Nolan’s apartment while shouting harassing and threatening statements at Nolan and blaring loud music.   The Complaint alleges that Nolan would also drive up as Nolan attempted to enter or exit his vehicle, and park next to Nolan’s car to prevent him from being able to get into his vehicle or to trap him inside. Rodriguez’s campaign of harassment has gone on for more than two years and continues unabated to this day.

On or about October 20, 2016, Nolan filed his first complaint against Rodriguez with the 121st Precinct, stating that he was the subject of aggravated harassment by Rodriguez and detailing the harassing phone calls and emails. Along with his complaint, Nolan provided to the police evidence of the threatening and harassing emails that Rodriguez had sent to him, including ones where Rodriguez threatened to make false complaints against him by alleging that Nolan had pointed a gun at Rodriguez’s son, if Nolan ever returned to the repair shop.

Sometime later, in late-2016 or early 2017, Rodriguez told Plaintiff that he had learned that Nolan had filed a complaint against him. Rodriguez laughed and told Nolan, “good luck with that, I have close ties to the 121st Precinct,” or words to that effect. Rodriguez also told Nolan in emails that he should stop waiving to cops on the street because everyone in the 121st Precinct knew him to be an “IAB rat.”

On January 18, 2017, Nolan sent an email to Robert Reardon, an Investigator with the Richmond County District Attorney’s Office, Clyde Fernandes, a Detective in the NYPD IAB, James Butler, a Detective with the 121st Precinct, and a generic US Dept. of Justice Internal Affairs email address, regarding his complaints filed with the 121st Precinct against Rodriguez, and the failure of the 121st Precinct to arrest and charge Rodriguez.

Nolan’s email was forwarded to auto-repair shop owner Sal Sportiello, who then forwarded the email to Rodriguez, but only after deleting the email(s), which would have identified who had forwarded it to Sportiello. Rodriguez then forwarded the chain back to Nolan, apparently to prove that he had connections in the 121st Precinct, adding that, “everyone knows your (sic) lying EDP [“emotionally disturbed person”] especially the 121 pct.”

The Complaint states that the 121st Precinct ignored Nolan’s initial complaint. Undeterred, Nolan continued to file complaints with the 121st Precinct against Rodriguez as the harassment continued, but those complaints were also ignored or shit-canned, as Rodriguez had predicted. After filing at least six complaints with the 121st Precinct, and at least six reports to IAB, all between October 2016 and November 2017 without ever being contacted by an investigating detective, after multiple unsuccessful attempts to speak with the Commanding Officer of the 121st Precinct. Harrington – who as previously described, mostly refused to speak with Nolan while they worked together in the same precinct for many years – about his ignored complaints, Nolan decided to take his complaints further up the NYPD chain of command.

On November 27, 2017, Nolan filed another complaint with IAB. Nolan again described the harassment and stalking that he had been subjected to, the multiple complaints that he had filed with the 121st Precinct, and the utter failure of the 121st Precinct to investigate those complaints or even bother to contact him for additional information. Later that day, Nolan, still having received no response from IAB, sent a follow-up email to IAB requesting an IAB log number and asking for an explanation for why no one from IAB had contacted him yet. Nolan copied Reznick on the follow-up email in the hope that Resnick, as the Commanding Officer of IAB, would take an interest and help to quickly put a stop to the 121st Precinct’s shit-canning of his complaints.

On November 28, 2017, Reznick responded to Nolan stating that he would “have someone from my office contact you tomorrow.”

On November 28, 2017, Nolan was interviewed by Sgt. Anthony Castellana of IAB. Nolan provided Castellana with all the information that he had regarding the harassment committed by Rodriguez, the complaints that he had filed with the 121st Precinct, and the failure of the 121st precinct to do any investigation.

On November 29, 2017, Nolan emailed Reznick to thank him for arranging the interview with Castellana. Nolan also informed Reznick of the fact that he had recently reported Rodriguez to the NYPD Police Impersonation Unit, and the US Marshal Service’s Internal Affairs Unit for identifying himself to Nolan as a US Marshal and presenting fake badges that looked like a US Marshal shield and an NYPD detective shield.

Reznick responded to Nolan at 2:13 p.m. that day telling him, “I will check up on your call to NYPD Impersonation Unit. I don’t like people who impersonate law enforcement. They tarnish our name. Good luck with your complaints being handled by the Squad.

Nothing was done to stop Rodriguez, who continued to harass Nolan verbally by shouting offensive statements or blaring music outside Nolan’s apartment, as well as emails. Nolan continued to call 9-1-1 and to file complaints with the 121st Precinct regarding Rodriguez’s conduct, but nothing was done to investigate or stop the harassment.

In the complaint, it states that on or about January 11, 2018 Nolan contacted Castellana to ask about the status of the investigation into his complaints. Castellana responded, without any further explanation, that it was “out of [his] hands.”

On January 18, 2017, unable to obtain any information on the status of his complaints to the 121st Precinct or IAB, and still being subjected to threats and harassment, Nolan once again emailed Reznick, writing, “Chief Reznick, I apologize for having to contact you again regarding this matter, but it appears that whatever is being done by units under your command, is not curtailing US Marshal impersonator, Jose Rodriquez from continuing to threaten, stalk and harass me.” Nolan also informed Reznick of additional complaints that he had made to the 121st Precinct that went nowhere, and of Sgt. Castellana’s comment about things being out of his hands. Nolan wrote to Reznick, “With all due respect, Chief, the people who work for you are either lying to you about what is going on, or they are playing the ‘shell game’. Again, sorry to bother you with this, but I have attempted to use the proper chain of command with no success. I am still in fear [for] my wife’s and my safety. Please advise on how to proceed. Respectfully, William Nolan Detective NYPD (retired).”

A few hours later, at 7:14 p.m. on January 18, 2018, Nolan emailed Reznick again, this time copying Spinella, with whom Nolan was acquainted from his time working in the 120th Precinct back in 1987 and whom he hoped would exercise some authority over IAB and the 121st Precinct, and others, informing Reznick that Rodriguez had sent him two harassing emails that day and that when he called to make a complaint, the responding officers from the 121st precinct refused to take his report. Reznick responded forty minutes later stating: “Billy, I have forwarded your last message to both the Commanding Officer of your Pct. And the Investigative Commander for Staten Island with instructions to follow up with your issues. If no one contacts you by next week, email me a message. Chief R.”

On January 19, 2018, Captain Scott Weisberg, the Executive Officer of the Staten Island detective Bureau, called Nolan to arrange a meeting to discuss Nolan’s complaints. On January 24, 2018, Nolan emailed Reznick, copying Spinella and others, letting Reznick know about the scheduled meeting with Weisberg. Nolan ended his email stating, “I will advise as needed. Thank you for your help. Respectfully, William Nolan.”

Reznick replied later that day saying, “Bill. You need not keep me informed of any future dealings that you have with Staten Island personnel regarding your current issues. The Capt. Will seek my advice and/or counseling if needed. I thank you for your cooperation. Chief R.” Nolan immediately stopped including Reznick on his email correspondence to the NYPD and IAB reading his then current issues. Nolan also stopped including Spinella on his emails at this time because the issues with his complaints seemed to be getting addressed.

On March 2, 2018, Nolan spoke with Weisberg about the status of the investigation into his complaints against the 121st Precinct. Weisberg told Nolan that James Butler, the detective who had conducted the investigation into Nolan’s complaints, had concluded that there was probable cause to arrest and charge Rodriguez for multiple counts of harassment, aggravated harassment, stalking, and threats against Nolan. Nolan was also told that the Richmond County District Attorney’s Office had proposed having Nolan and Rodriguez engage in mediation in lieu of prosecuting Rodriguez.

Immediately after their conversation ended, Nolan summarized the substance of what he had been told, as detailed immediately above, in an email to Weisberg and Butler, as well as to Reznick, Spinella and others. Nolan also expressly stated that he wanted to proceed with prosecution and that he was not interested in mediating issues with Rodriguez. Nolan also repeated that he and his wife continued to live in fear of Rodriguez and his associates and asked that he be notified once an arrest was made.

Neither Weisberg nor Butler, nor anyone else included on the email, responded to Nolan to contradict or qualify anything that Nolan had stated in his email.

Notwithstanding Nolan’s express desire to pursue prosecution, still on or about March 2, 2018, Weisberg contacted Rodriguez and instructed him to stop harassing and threatening Nolan, and also offered to arrange for mediation between Nolan and Rodriguez.

On March 3, 2018, Nolan emailed Weisberg to complain about Weisberg’s overtures to Rodriguez.  Nolan told Weisberg that his actions had “Made an already bad situation worse. As per our last phone conversation, I advised you that it’s in the department’s best interest to properly do their job and stop the ‘shit canning’ of complaints and/or playing the ‘shell game,’ especially in this matter.”

On March 4, 2018 Nolan emailed Weisberg, Reznick, Spinella, and others to complain about the lack of an arrest and about Weisberg’s offer of mediation to Rodriguez. Nolan also informed the recipients that Rodriguez had harassed him again the prior evening by driving up and down his block several times and then parking outside of his apartment, all the while blasting his stereo so loudly that Nolan’s windows shook. Shortly after that incident, Rodriguez’s son and others vandalized his vehicle by throwing sticks, gum, and other debris onto the hood and windshield of the vehicle. Nolan then addressed Reznick and Spinella directly, adding, “I apologize for having to CC you on this again, but as you can see the ‘shit canning’ is still in effect and those who work under, for and with you, have no interest in doing their jobs properly.” Nolan did not receive an immediate response to his March 4, 2018 email.

On March 14, 2018, two officers from the NYPD License Division, Sergeants Browne and Soon, showed up at Nolan’s home, without warning or notice, confiscated his handgun license and handguns. Nolan was informed that the reason his handgun license was suspended because of his “failure to notify the License Division of numerous incidents which came to the attention of law enforcement.” The notice did not inform Nolan of what incident, or incidents, it was referring to.

Nolan was handed an envelope that contained the “Cease and Desist” letter dated March 13, 2018, advising Nolan to: “cease and desist from sending nuisance messages or otherwise contacting Deputy Commissioner Reznick and Chief Spinella. Should you choose to continue in your course of conduct, the NYPD will pursue any and all remedies, both criminal and civil. Any nuisance communication will be deemed a violation of this order. Do not respond to this letter. The NYPD considers this matter closed.”

On April 18, 2018. Retired NYPD Detective Vito Palazzo filed a complaint against Rodriguez for aggravated harassment with the 122nd Precinct, also in Staten Island. Palazzo, who was a former partner of Nolan’s in the NYPD, had received seventeen emails from Rodriguez, each of which contained content harassing and mocking Nolan, including jokes about the fact that Nolan’s handguns had been removed by the NYPD. The complaint that Palazzo filed was later closed with no further action.

On that same day, while driving up and down the street outside of Nolan’s apartment, Rodriguez screamed and yelled: “Billy no guns, where are your guns now bitch!” Rodriguez even created an email account with the address: billyhasnoguns@gmail.com, through which he sends harassing emails to Nolan, according to the lawsuit.

According to the lawsuit Complaint, on April 19, 2018, Palazzo was told by Sgt. Brian Herbert of the NYPD License Division that Nolan’s handgun license had been suspended on the order of Deputy Commissioner Reznick, whom Herbert stated that Reznick had done the same thing before.

On June 19, 2018 Nolan filed a complaint with the NYC Department of Investigation requesting that the NYCDOI investigate Reznick and Barreto, along with Licensing division officers Aybar, Herbert, and Browne, and 121st Precinct Commanding Officer Harrington for their roles in regard to his license suspension and seized handguns, as well as the failure of the 121st Precinct to investigate his complaints.

Nolan’s complaint resulted in Senior Investigator John Kim opening two cases. Almost four months later, on or about October 15, 2018, Kim and his supervisor, Brigitte Watson, told Nolan that they had requested records and information from the NYPD nearly four months ago, but that the NYPD was not cooperating with those requests. They also told Nolan that such lack of cooperation was not normal. Kim suggested that Nolan retain a lawyer.

On December 7, 2018, Investigator Marksman of the NYCDOI informed Nolan that his case was still active but currently unassigned to any investigator.

On December 20, 2018, the NYPD executed a search warrant on Nolan’s apartment.

In Part Two of this story, you will hear more of what William Nolan told the Baltimore Post-Examiner during our exclusive interview with him.

Stay tuned.





About the author

Doug Poppa

Doug Poppa is a US Army Military Police Veteran, former law enforcement officer, criminal investigator and private sector security and investigations management professional with 40 years of experience. In 1986 Mr. Poppa was awarded “Criminal Investigator of the Year” by the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office in Virginia for his undercover work in narcotics enforcement. He was also re-assigned to the Northern Virginia Regional Narcotics Enforcement Task Force for 18 months. In 1991 and again in 1992 Mr. Poppa’s testimony under oath in court led to the discovery that exculpatory evidence was withheld from the defense by the prosecutor and sheriff’s office officials during the 1988 trial of a man accused of attempted murder of his wife that led to his conviction. As a result of his testimony the man was ordered released from prison, given a new trial in 1992 and found not guilty. Mr. Poppa became the subject of local and national news media attention as a result of his testimony which led to the demise of his 12-year police career. After losing his job, at the request of the FBI, Mr. Poppa infiltrated in an undercover capacity a group of men who were plotting the kidnapping of a Dupont Chemical fortune heir and his wife in 1992. His stories have been featured on Inside Edition, A Current Affair, and CBS News’ Street Stories with Ed Bradley. Contact the author.
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