Manes Kills Self Two Months After Slashing Wrist and Ankle
NEW YORK (AP) _ Donald Manes, who survived a suicide attempt then resigned as Queens borough president when he was linked to the city’s largest corruption scandal in 15 years, ended his life with a knife wound to the heart.
Manes, 52, died Thursday night, little more than an hour after an ambulance was called to his home, where he was found lying on the kitchen floor with a stab wound to the chest, said Police Commissioner Benjamin Ward.
He had been the highest elected official of the borough of Queens, which has a population of nearly 2 million, larger than all but three U.S. cities.
Thursday night, Manes and his wife, Marlene, had dinner at his sister’s house, Ward said at a news conference. Mrs. Manes described her husband as ″despondent all night,″ Ward said.
After they returned to their Queens home about 9:15 p.m., Manes was in the kitchen, talking to his psychiatrist on the telephone, when his 25-year-old daughter, Lauren, saw him reach into a drawer ″in an erratic manner,″ Ward said.
Lauren Manes went to get her mother, and when they returned they found Manes on the floor, with a knife in his chest, Ward said. The telephone receiver dangled off the hook nearby.
The commissioner said two police officers responded shortly after a call at 9:53 p.m.
Manes stabbed himself with an eight-inch knife, said Deputy Commissioner Alice T. McGillion. The knife was removed by Mrs. Manes, Ward said.
When emergency personnel arrived, said Lou Cafiero, spokesman for the Emergency Medical Service, they found Manes ″in traumatic arrest - he had no vital signs.″
He was taken to Booth Memorial Medical Center, where doctors tried to resuscitate him. Dr. James Turner, the hospital’s assistant director of surgery, said Manes suffered two wounds to his heart.
He was pronounced dead at 11 p.m., Miss McGillion said.
Mayor Edward I. Koch, a friend and political ally of Manes who later called the borough president a crook, said Thursday night, ″This is an enormous tragedy and under these circumstances, and after death, we should also remember the good things Donald Manes did.″
The New York City native was first elected to the City Council in 1965 at age 31. He became the youngest borough president in Queens history in 1971, and consolidated his power in 1974 by becoming Queens Democratic Party chairman.
Known as ″The King of Queens,″ Manes seemed to be at the height of his power when, on Jan. 10, police stopped his car, which was weaving on a highway in Queens, and found him bleeding profusely from wounds in his wrist and ankle.
Manes first told police he had been kidnapped and attacked. On Jan. 21 he admitted his wounds had been self-inflicted.
Shortly after Manes’ first suicide attempt, longtime friend Geoffrey G. Lindenauer, deputy director of the city’s Parking Violations Bureau, was charged with taking a $5,000 bribe from the president of a company hired by the bureau to collect overdue parking fines.
Within a week, the head of another collection company doing business with the bureau, Michael Dowd, told authorities he paid bribes to Lindenauer on instructions from Manes.
On Feb. 11, Manes resigned the borough presidency, as well as the Democratic chairmanship.
On Monday, Lindenauer pleaded guilty to racketeering and mail fraud charges as part of a deal in which he agreed to cooperate with prosecutors.
Although Manes’ attorney, Michael Armstrong, denied his client was cooperating or would cooperate with investigators, federal prosecutors reportedly were considering that possibility.
Armstrong said today that he met with his client for several hours Thursday but would not say what was discussed.
″He was under great stress,″ Armstrong said. ″In recent days that was apparent to everyone close to him.″
U.S. Attorney Rudolph Giuliani, whose office has conducted the major investigation into the PVB, said Manes’ death would not effect other aspects of the investigation.
The burgeoning scandal has been compared to police corruption exposed by the Knapp Commission from 1970 to 1972, which led to charges against 56 police officers. The commission, formed after allegations by police officer Frank Serpico, found evidence that police had accepted $4 million in bribes a year from organized crime to overlook prostitution and narcotics violations.
After Dowd’s allegations became public, Koch called on Manes to resign.
″I would have staked my life on the honesty of Donald Manes,″ the mayor said at the time. ″But ... I am convinced now that he engaged in being a crook.″