Pedro Perez, Acting Top Trooper After Harry Corbitt Quit Under Cloud, Quits Himself

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Last week the New York State Police superintendent, Harry Corbitt, after defending his department's conduct in the Paterson-David Johnson scandal -- he said troopers visited Johnson's abuse accuser just to "give her options" -- suddenly retired, citing "media showing up in my driveway." Stepping up as acting superintendent since then has been his second-in-command, First Deputy Superintendent Pedro Perez, a 28-year veteran of the force.

Now Perez is retiring. Deputy Superintendent John Melville will take over the department until Paterson appoints an actual superintendent, barring another resignation.

Perez filed a letter explaining up front that "my retirement is not premised on the current investigation by the Attorney General [of the Johnson case], as I know my decisions were honest and rightly motivated." He also said he worried that "continuing in my position as Acting Superintendent may be an obstacle to progress of the New York State Police, an agency I love." His last day is Friday.

But the Albany Times-Union was asking right after his appointment, "Will scandal hit new top state cop?" as Perez had been identified as the guy who authorized the head of Paterson's security detail to contact the Johnson accuser, Sherr-una Booker. The state troopers' PBA president, Thomas Mungeer, told the Times-Union, "From what I'm reading, he's up to his elbows in this."

The new supe, Melville, is Mungeer's former commanding officer, but Mungeer said before Perez quit that though "I think the world of John Melville... I think that at this time, we need somebody from the outside." Mungeer also darkly alluded to the Knapp Commission, which investigated city cops in the 1970s.

Corbitt succeeded Preston Felton, who was investigated in the Spitzer-era "Troopergate" scandal and admitted to the State Commission on Public Integrity that he snooped into Joe Bruno's comings and goings on the state's dime. (Bruno was convicted of other offenses in December.)

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