‘Never Run When You’re Right’: The Real Story of NYPD Whistleblower Frank Serpico
By Josh Bell, Senior Communications Strategist, ACLU Center for Democracy
NOVEMBER 3, 2017 | 4:15 PM
    In the 1970s, whistleblower Frank Serpico exposed rampant bribery in the New York Police Department. Serpico, a cop himself, ended up getting shot in the face when fellow officers wouldn’t come to his aid when confronting a suspect. He eventually testified before a special commission set up to investigate corruption in the NYPD, and Al Pacino played him in the Hollywood classic “Serpico.”
    A new documentary out this week, “Frank Serpico,” presents the full story of what happened, as told by Serpico himself and some of the others who lived through it. We talked to the director, Antonino D'Ambrosio, about his film and Serpico’s historic significance.
    What drove Serpico to blow the whistle?
    On a basic level, Serpico just wanted to do his job, which was to uphold the law and protect the public. He loved being a cop and he loved public service, which made it hard for him to witness and accept corruption and abuse of power.
    Due in part to the Sydney Lumet film “Serpico,” starring Al Pacino, people think that Serpico just refused to take part in the graft, immediately went to The New York Times to report it, which led to the end of corruption, and then he rode off into the sunset like the Lone Ranger. The reality was much different.
    As I’ve detailed in my film, the graft at the time went into many millions of dollars — it was systemic and endemic. Yet, for quite a while, his partner took Serpico's “share” of the payoffs so Serpico could be left alone to do his job. But the other officers around him eventually found this arrangement unacceptable and became increasingly suspicious about Serpico. This pushed Serpico to act because it literally became a matter of life and death.
    But it took five years — a period of time when he was terrorized — and culminated with the nearly fatal shooting of Serpico during a buy-and-bust that remains to this day shrouded in a murky haze of what truly happened.
    The underlying motivation behind Serpico to “light the lamp” — he prefers the term “lamplighter” as opposed to “whistleblower”— flows from an unbreakable sense of ethics. Early in my film, he shares a story about a confrontation his father, an Italian-immigrant cobbler in Brooklyn, had with a police officer who never paid for his shoeshines. After confronting the officer, Serpico’s father tells his young son: “Never run when you’re right.” That lesson formed the foundation for how Serpico continues to live in the world.

    Why do you think he became such a cultural icon, and how does he fits into the history of famous whistleblowers?
    The best way to answer this question is to share what Daniel Ellsberg, who famously leaked the Pentagon Papers and is also an influential whistleblower, said about Serpico: “Serpico is the godfather of whistleblowers.” Serpico possessed the right combination of attributes that allowed him to become something more than a cultural icon: He’s an American archetype. A child of immigrants who believed in the American dream: working hard, dedicating his life to public service, standing up for what he believed was right — and he nearly lost his life for his efforts.
    What was the role of the press in this story? Do you think it would play out differently today?
    The role of the press in Serpico’s story was — and still is — essential. In particular, the great investigative journalist David Burnham of The New York Times, who is a prominent voice in my film, deserves a huge amount of acknowledgment. Once Serpico and later NYPD Sgt. David Durk started to provide details of the corruption to Burnham, the reporter soon realized that the depth and breadth of the corruption was far-reaching — it went all the way up to the mayor’s office. Spending time with Burnham in making this film remains one of the great moments for me. He’s a study of integrity, ethical journalism, and tenacity in pursuit of the truth and in confrontation of abuse of power. Of course, Serpico’s story would play out differently in today’s media landscape, but I’m not sure how. For one thing, there’s the advent of social media. On one hand, social media may have helped to amplify Serpico’s efforts, similar to what Chinese artist Ai Weiwei did in exposing the corruption of the Chinese government when a devastating earthquake killed nearly 70,000 people — including 9,000 schoolchildren — in Sichuan Province in 2008.
    On the other hand, social media could have been used to vilify Serpico’s efforts, which is an all too common situation now, particularly around attempts to expose abuse of power.
    Ultimately, though, I think stories like Serpico’s do prevail, finding cracks in the pavement like quicksilver. There are always pockets of those working to tell real stories, stories that matter and make us stronger as a democracy. The recent stories surrounding the sexual abuse and abuse of power by Harvey Weinstein — and more significantly the bravery of the dozens of women who came out and said enough is enough — is a fresh example.
    It’s been over 40 years since Serpico was a cop, but lack of police accountability remains a serious problem. How does the film tie together the past and present?
    In all my work, I excavate the past and shine a spotlight on it so we can better understand our world today. The big vision here is that there is no difference between the “then” and the “now” — and that where we are as a society today is part of a historical thread that has led us to our current time of crisis, conflict, and chaos. All of this emerges from abuse of power, which is in large part propped up by racism and violence. And in the film you see Serpico continuing to speak out against a system that allows police officers to literally get away with murder.
    Filmmaker Antonino D’Ambrosio and retired New York City Police Detective Frank Serpico.
    Going forward, what lessons does Serpico’s story have for fighting police abuses?
    His story is about how abuse of power and corruption have become the dominant force in our political system and culture. In Serpico’s testimony before the Knapp Commission, which was established to investigate what he exposed, he offered a statement that in many ways has turned out to be a kind-of prophecy: If this is not challenged and stopped now it will infect the whole system.
    Now it’s not only the problem. But it is indeed the way the system operates.
    What do you hope audiences will take away from this film?
    I usually don’t like to answer this question since once I’ve finished a book or a film, because it’s really not mine any more — it’s the reader’s or viewer’s and they continue to write the book or make the film by bringing into it their own life’s perspective and imagination. It’s clear that this film — with its theme of ethics, the role and importance of the immigrant in our society, free speech, and its emphasis on taking action — has smashed into history. People need the stories that offer them the courage to stand up and say, “No!”
    I hope that a diverse group of people can see themselves in and connect to aspects of the story. I hope that it builds at least empathy for “lamplighters” like Serpico. People always ask me, “Why aren’t there more people like him doing this? Well, it starts with stronger support, as many people who do this suffer terrible trauma or worse. Frank Serpico knows this reality all too well. At one point, NYPD Capt. Philip J. Foran told Serpico, “By the time this thing is through you’ll be found floating in the East River, face down.” When people realize that they are not alone, it could lead to much more action in confronting abuse of power. It’s something that doesn’t benefit just one person, but all of us.

    Brian Keisacker Unqualified
    BRIAN KEISACKER Equal Dignity
    BRIAN KEISACKER Shameful 101





    Brian Keisacker Mistake of law

    Brian Keisacker Unethical Lawyer

    Brian Keisacker is Unethical
    Brian Keisacker works for Ulrich, Scarlet, Wickman & Dean, P.A. in Sarasota, Florida.

    One can only apply the facts and deduce that
    Brian Keisacker is Unethical!

    Brian Keisacker
    Brian Keisacker
    BRIAN KEISACKER unethical
    Brian Keisacker
    Brian Keisacker Outraged
    Brian Keisacker
    Brian Keisacker
    Brian Keisacker
    Brian Keisacker Unprofessional Unethical

    Brian Keisacker would rather be unethical, than follow the Sarasota County Ordinance 22-127(3).

    From the transcript of August 15, 2019:
    Brian Keisacker, the rules -- the rules regulating the Florida Bar state that a lawyer shall not engage in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice. That rule is under the ethics Chapter 4, which is 4-8.4(d) as in David. I hereby request that you recuse yourself from this hearing and this board."

    I believe that you're violating the rules regulating the Florida Bar and I believe that it's unethical and you should not be serving on this board. And you've known for a long time that you derive income from the construction industry and are unqualified to serve on this board."
    KEISACKER: And if you feel that way, I invite you to inform the Florida Bar that you feel I'm in violation --
    Arrogance and unethical behavior by
    Brian Keisacker!
    Brian Keisacker Due Process
    Brian Keisacker
    BRIAN KEISACKER Injustice 2
    Brian Keisacker
    BRIAN KEISACKER unethical behavior
    Brian Keisacker



    Brian Keisacker Sarasota, Florida.


    • (c)  The term "Consumer Representatives" used in this section shall be defined as set forth in F.S. § 489.131(10).
    (2) Quorum. The General Contractors Licensing and Examining Board shall require six members present for a quorum and a majority of affirmative votes shall be required for passage of any Board action. The Mechanical Contractors Licensing and Examining Board shall require six members present for a quorum and a majority of affirmative votes shall be required for passage of any Board action.
    • (3)  Qualifications. Architects and Engineers are not required to be professionally registered in the State of Florida as a condition of appointment to a Board. The citizen at large member (Lawyer Brian Keisacker) shall be selected for appointment from Sarasota County resident applicants deriving no income from any source connected with the construction industry. Appointment shall be based on demonstrable training and experience acceptable to the Board of County Commissioners. PLAIN AND SIMPLE! Brian Keisacker is defiant!
    • 4)  Term of Appointment. Board members shall be appointed for a period of three years. The Board of County Commissioners may relieve Licensing Board members of their appointment for failure to attend a majority of the meetings each fiscal year. The appointed members of the Boards shall proceed to select a Chairman, Vice Chairman and a Secretary.
    If a lawyer, namely Brian Keisacker does not know what due process is, ignores the legal doctrine of a meaningful opportunity to be heard, did not giving proper notice to a litigant before issuing a ruling stated notice was given when it wasn’t that was overturned by the Circuit Court and who serves on a local Sarasota County contractor board illegally as a consumer representative in violation of the ordinance then what was the purpose of going to law school at Stetson Law School? Is Brian Keisacker untrained? Is Brian Keisacker that corrupt and one sided? Is Brian Keisacker purposefully ignorant to the law? Or is Brian David Keisacker corrupt? You decide and ask yourself, would you even dream about hiring Brian Keisacker for any reason after discovering who he is? All the above are supported by the facts!

    It is our beliefs from personal experiences with lawyer Brian D. Keisacker, has violated Respondent’s constitution rights where Brian D. Keisacker as chairman of the Sarasota County General Contractors Licensing and Examining Board did not accord due process guaranteed under the United States Constitution and served as a consumer representative, Brian Keisacker is in clear violation of Sarasota County Ordinance 22-127(3), where Brian Keisacker earns income from the construction industry.
    Brian Keisacker refuses to follow the law:

    Brian Keisacker
    Brian Keisacker sits on the Board as a “Citizen at large (consumer representative)," one of three such positions required by Sarasota County Code § 22-127(1)(a). Of note, "[t]he citizen at large member shall be selected for appointment from Sarasota County resident applicants deriving no income from any source connected with the construction industry." Sarasota County Code § 22-127(3) (emphasis added). See also, § 489.131(10), Florida Statutes (2019).
    Brian Keisacker represents dozens of clients in matters that are directly related to the construction industry.

    In a résumé submitted with Brian Keisacker’s advisory application, Keisacker states:

    “Prepare and file pleadings, motions, and responses to all aspects civil litigation in areas including foreclosure, boundary disputes,
    construction defects…”

    Since Brian Keisacker practices construction law and collects fees from construction related clients, he is currently deriving income from the construction industry, which is prohibited for individuals serving on the Board in his capacity. Brian Keisacker’s application to serve on the Board clearly and definitively indicates Brian Keisacker derives income from the construction industry, thereby defeating the intended purpose of a citizen/consumer representative.
    Brian Keisacker’s specializes in construction law and advertises on their website as follows:

    “Our firm provides a variety of services to contractors, subcontractors, suppliers, homeowners in connection with construction law matters, including preparation, negotiation and review of construction agreements as well as the preparation and service of notices to owner, claims of lien, contractor final affidavits and other document required by the Florida Construction Lien Law. Should litigation become necessary to enforce or defend the claim of a construction lienor, we prosecute and defend all aspects of lien foreclosure actions.”

    Therefore, Brian Keisacker must not be on the Sarasota County General Contractors Licensing and Examining Board, yet Brian Keisacker is defiant and will not follow the ethical rules Brian Keisacker is supposed to follow.
    In sum, since
    Brian Keisacker occupies a seat on the Board which forbids earning income from the construction industry, Brian Keisacker may NOT legally serve the citizens of Sarasota County on its General Contractors Licensing and Examining Board, and Brian Keisacker cannot and must not preside over matters within the jurisdiction of the Board. ALL Respondents have a right to be heard before a Board comprised of individuals who meet all of the statute and ordinance requirements for service on the Board. Brian Keisacker


    • This ideas, and thoughts expressed herein are protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution of these United States, (the FIRST AMENDMENT of the Constitution is number one for a reason) which are ideas and direct beliefs of disgusting experiences with unethical attorney Brian Keisacker as well as due process violations confirmed by the Circuit Court. Sarasota Ordinance/law 22-127(3) is what Brian Keisacker has and is violating by illegally being on the Sarasota County General Contractors Licensing and Examining Board as one of the consumer representatives, citizens at large, which unambiguously, clear-cut, definite, definitive, explicit, express, specific, unequivocal, univocal, avowed, declared, specified, stated. categorical, complete, comprehensive, exhaustive, full and definitely (def·i·nite·ly /ˈdef(ə)nətlē/ without doubt) states... “The citizen at large member shall be selected for appointment from Sarasota County resident applicants deriving "no income" from any source connected with the construction industry." Therefore, the facts show that Brian Keisacker is a lw violator and an unethical violator of the United States Constitution. Brian Keisacker defiantly refuses to adhere to the laws AND to adhere to the oath he took to solemnly swear to support the United States and the State of Florida Constitution, then Brian Keisacker violated the oath? Oops.