A member of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s transition team who had two outstanding warrants avoided jail Monday night after the mayor put in call to a senior law enforcement official, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Bishop Orlando Findlayter was pulled over Monday by two police officers after he failed to signal on a left turn. The officers then discovered the bishop’s warrants after running his name through a database.

Findlayter’s warrants should have resulted in him spending a night in jail, but the mayor’s inquiries may have spared the “local clergyman” the experience.

“The mayor’s press office is in routine contact with its communications counterparts at the NYPD, as with every agency,” de Blasio spokesman Phil Walzak said, adding the mayor contacted senior police officials to “get clarification on word that there had been an arrest of a respected local clergyman.”

 

Bishop Findlayter was arrested at around 11:21 p.m. Monday evening, according to an arrest report. The officers discovered that the two warrants for the bishop’s arrest had been issued on Jan. 16 after he failed to appear in court.

“The bishop had been arrested at an immigration reform protest in Manhattan on Oct. 16 but the report said he allegedly didn’t pay his fine or go to court after being released with a summons, instead of spending the night in a holding cell,” the Journal reported.

Officers are ordinarily required to hold suspects until all warrants can be cleared up in court, a court official said.

But the arraignment court in Brooklyn was set to close at 1:00 a.m. and the officers wouldn’t have made it in time.

“There is some discretion there, but the police patrol guide says they have to be returned to the court” before being let go, Bob Cassidy, deputy chief clerk of citywide summons operations with the Office of Court Administration told the Journal.

It looked like the bishop was going to spend some time in jail and wait for the court to re-open.

That didn’t happen.

“A local clergy council called the NYPD and Mr. de Blasio early on Tuesday morning,” the report notes. “The mayor’s office sent emails to the NYPD officials and Mr. de Blasio called Deputy Chief Royster to inquire about the arrest, Deputy Chief Royster said. He didn’t ask that the bishop be released, she said.”

Deputy Chief Royster explained: “We always get inquiries from the mayor’s office, and the inquiry we received is if this individual was arrested or taken into custody. When I inquired about it, the commanding officer said he was taken into custody, arrested and was going to be given a desk appearance ticket.”

NYPD spokesman Stephen Davis added that officers are given some discretion to release suspects if they consider them harmless to the community.

 

Deputy Inspector Kenneth Lehr, the commanding officer of 67th precinct, personally reviewed the bishop’s arrest, Davis said.

Lehr made the call to release Findlayter with the assurance that the bishop would return the next morning to clear up his warrants with the court.

“You can try to get the guy to court and the arraignment part closes at 1 and you get lodged until the next morning,” Davis said. “He personally knows the bishop and interacts with him. The commanding took the option to give him a [desk appearance ticket.]”

The bishop said he thought his warrants had been taken care of by lawyers he had hired to handle the situation.

Findlayter, who works out of Queens, endorsed de Blasio’s campaign in June when the candidate’s polling numbers were in a slump. Findlayter’s endorsement helped “solidify” de Blasio’s standing in the African American community, carrying him to election day victory, the Journal reported.

The bishop was later named to the mayor’s inaugural committee and transition team.

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This post has been updated.

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