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The next fugitive to be exposed on “America’s Most Wanted” is... the villainous computer bug that screwed up the show’s All Star competition and left a Bay Ridge cop’s dreams of winning in a holding pattern.
Despite an 11th−hour rally of on−line votes, it was still unclear just where Police Officer Susan Porcello of the 68th Precinct stands in the field of eight crime fighters from all over the country looking for the lofty honor −− as well as the $10,000 in prize money it comes with −− as this paper went to press.
The All−Star on−line contest was supposed to end at midnight on May 4, but a computer malfunction shut down the contest several hours earlier.
By late Tuesday, a spokesperson for the television show said that the final vote tally hasn’t been completed.
On Monday, Porcello −− the only woman in the contest −− was ranked in the top three, sharing cyber−space with hard as nails crime fighters who had faced down armed felons in a fire storm of bullets.
When contacted, Porcello said that she wasn’t expecting to win. Her trophy, she said, was the “America’s Most Wanted” mug she received as part of a “goody bag” all the finalists received.
“[The other contestants’] stories are so much better than mine,” she said humbly. “But over 600 cops from across the country were nominated and I made it to the final eight. That’s good enough for me.”
Hundreds of her fans would disagree. In fact they would say that her act of compassion deserves something better than an “at−a−girl” from host John Walsh.
Porcello received national attention for befriending an aging World War II veteran Gasper Musso who had overdosed on a mixture of medication.
When she waited for an ambulance, she talked to the plucky Marine Avenue resident and learned that the aging soldier had no family or friends.
“I don’t like to see people alone,” said Porcello who not only befriended Musso, but also made him “her grandpa.”
Porcello continued to visit Musso as he got better and then helped find a residence in a neighborhood senior citizen facility.
She also made sure his wish of being buried next to his mother was honored when he passed away in November, right before the two friends were going to celebrate Thanksgiving together.
Porcello used her own money to pay for a funeral befitting a World War II veteran with a full Marine Corps color guard.
Her story struck a nerve with people across the country, especially veterans.
In fact, two “America’s Most Wanted” viewers from Texas and Tennessee that Porcello never met nominated her for the All Star Contest. She never knew she was nominated until a television producer contacted the 68th Precinct.
“I first thought that they were looking for someone I arrested,” she said. “But then they started talking about this contest and I asked myself, ‘What the hell is that all about?’”
Even if she doesn’t get named an America’s Most Wanted All star, Porcello was declared a winner in the court of public opinion.
Today, nearly a year after she buried her friend Gasper, she’s receiving letters and e−mails from everyday citizens to soldiers fighting in the middle east, honoring her deed.
She actually bought a laptop computer so she could keep up with all the correspondence and make sure that she writes everyone back, she said.
“My dad thinks I’m crazy,” she said. “But these people took their time, so I should take some time to respond.”
Cops at the 68th Precinct said that Porcello doesn’t need a special award to prove she’s an All−Star.
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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