White marshal claims harassment He says as whistle-blower on racism, he was penalized

October 05, 1997|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

NEW YORK -- As a police officer and investigator, Stephen M. Zanowic Jr. spent 10 years on the streets, mainly chasing muggers and corrupt officers. In 1988, he thought he had found a prestigious law-enforcement niche when he was appointed a U.S. deputy marshal in Manhattan.

But Zanowic says that his career is in shambles because he, a white man, complained to federal officials that white deputies were discriminating against black employees in the Marshals Service's Manhattan office.

Zanowic claims that supervisors and other deputy marshals labeled him "a white rat" after he disclosed that about a dozen of them used a picture of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. for target practice and openly voiced racial slurs and threats against a black deputy marshal.

In a federal lawsuit and in an interview, Zanowic asserted that officials in the Manhattan office responded to his whistle-blowing by blocking him from promotions and by assigning him to the least desirable marshal's job.

He said the hostility against him led to incidents in which his case files and his marshal's badge were stolen from his locker, a photograph of his wife that was on his desk was defaced, pornographic pictures of blacks were left on his desk and the word rat was scratched on his locker in 6-inch-high letters.

"I found out the hard way what happens when you speak out against inherent racism in the Marshals Service," Zanowic said. "They don't investigate the charges. Instead they ostracize you as a weird malcontent, and you become the target of harassment and internal investigations."

William T. Licatovich, a spokesman for the service, said that previous racism grievances filed by Zanowic were determined by the Justice Department to be unfounded. He said federal rules prohibited him from commenting further on Zanowic's charges until the suit is resolved.

Zanowic, who filed the federal lawsuit in July, is seeking back pay for promotions he contends were unfairly denied him and an unspecified amount for alleged reprisals and abuses.

A spokeswoman for the Black Congressional Caucus, Marcella Howell, said that the caucus would review Zanowic's allegations Nov. 5 at a hearing in Washington concerning charges of racial discrimination in the Marshals Service and in other federal law-enforcement agencies.

Pub Date: 10/05/97

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