When world heavyweight champion Mike Tyson suggested two Port Authority police officers take his $150,000 silver Rolls-Royce, they took him up on the offer. But on Thursday, they began suffering the consequences - 10-day suspensions without pay.
Officers Dana Bratton, 34, and Steven Barnes, 37, pleaded guilty this week to charges of accepting a gratuity, conduct unbecoming an officer, being off their posts and failure to file a report, said Lynn Tierney, a spokeswoman for Port Authority police.On May 8, Tyson was involved in a fender-bender near the Manhattan entrance to the Holland Tunnel, which is patrolled by Port Authority police. The officers approached his Rolls and Tyson told them to take the car.
"I've had nothing but bad luck and accidents with this car," Tierney quoted Tyson as saying. "You guys take this car and keep it."
At first Bratton and Barnes refused. But when Tyson insisted, the officers took the car and drove it to a parking garage in Jersey City, N.J., where they left it overnight without notifying their superiors.
The gift might have remained a secret if a freelance photographer had not wandered by and snapped a shot of the scene. A police captain saw the picture and called the two officers in to discuss the matter and ordered them to return the car, Tierney said.
"The car has been returned but since then we've had a number of people call and volunteer to take the car," she said. "We had one woman from Ohio who said she wasn't a city employee and could take it."
Internal investigators also were asked to look into the matter.
Although special prosecutor Charles Hynes and the Hudson County prosecutor declined to press criminal charges, four administrative charges were lodged against both officers, who decided to plead guilty and accept the 10-day suspension without pay.
Bratton has been on the job since 1980 and Barnes was appointed to the force in 1970.
Tyson, who holds the heavyweight boxing title, could not be reached for comment.