PREET BHARARA, FOLLOW THE DIAMONDS…
April 13, 2016
Preet Bharara says de Blasio, Cuomo should ‘stay tuned’ as executive offices are ‘far from immune’ to his corruption cleanup
New York Daily News, April 13, 2016
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara issued an executive warning Tuesday, making clear that his push to clean up corruption isn’t limited to the state Legislature.
“We will keep looking hard at corruption in our legislative branch, as we have been,” Bharara said during a keynote speech at Common Cause New York’s annual gala at the University Club in Midtown. “But not just there: in the executive branch, too, both in city and in state government.
JEFF BACHNER/FOR NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Upper Manhattan City Councilman Mark Levine said he was returning $5,500 in donations that he received from one of the men at the center of the NYPD-focused probe by Bharara.
“Executive offices in government are far from immune from the creeping show-me-the-money culture that has been pervading New York for some time now.”
The comments come as Bharara’s office is reportedly looking into the mayor’s campaign fund-raising in connection with a probe of two businessmen ensnared with police brass in a gifts-for-favors probe. Bharara is also reportedly looking into economic development spending in Buffalo under Cuomo.
Earlier Tuesday, Upper Manhattan City Councilman Mark Levine said he was returning $5,500 in donations that he received from Jona Rechnitz, one of the men at the center of the NYPD-focused probe. Mayor de Blasio said Friday he would return money from Rechnitz as well.
The mayor has said he’s unaware of any federal investigation.
Levine received a $2,750 donation from Joan Rechnitz, who is being investigated by US Attorney Preet Bharara’s office, and another $2,750 from his wife.
New York Post, April 13, 2016
“The sums are staggering. In addition to the $4.36 million he reported raising through three nonprofits he created for no conceivable purpose other than to avoid campaign-finance-law limits, there is a fourth organization that has raked in far more — at least $30 million. That entity, the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City, existed before de Blasio took office, with previous mayors raising private money mostly for experimental programs that, if they succeeded, would be put into the city budget.
I’m told de Blasio, after putting wife Chirlane McCray in charge, is using this organization just like the other three he created — as a virtual slush fund where people with business before the city can make unlimited contributions for use at his discretion. I also hear that some people believe they were promised certain government actions in exchange for their contributions.
If that’s true, de Blasio is toast. US Attorney Preet Bharara is zealous about rooting out pay-to-play rot, as he proved with his Albany-shattering convictions of Sheldon Silver and Dean Skelos.
Silver and Skelos, both headed to federal prison, at least tried to keep their scams secret. But many of de Blasio’s public actions certainly look to be part of a quid pro quo. That’s the only way to explain behavior that otherwise looks insane.”
Answer this, Mr. Mayor, on the Campaign for One New York
New York Daily News, April 13, 2016
“What, if anything, did benefactors Jeremy Reichberg and Jona Rechnitz expect in return for their sizeable fundraising?
What exactly did the mayor’s aides discuss with Reichberg and Rechnitz before and after their money came through?
What did de Blasio say as he rattled the tin cup at a dinner in Reichberg’s Brooklyn home? Did he declare that donors would receive no special access to city officials or preferential treatment — as city conflicts rules say he must?
Did the mayor or anyone from his administration solicit Campaign for One New York funding from the taxi industry, animal rights activists or the teachers union, knowing each had business before the city — a big conflicts no-no?”
The Jewish Voice, April 13, 2016
“The friendship between the former head of the 72nd precinct in Sunset Park, Deputy Inspector James Grant and businessmen Jeremy Reichberg and Jona Rechnitz, dates back several years. The men have been allowed to park in his Grant’s private spot at the police precinct.
It was at the 19th Precinct on the Upper East Side, that Grant was recently penalized by the NYPD and placed on modified duty. The discipline is a result of accepting gifts from Reichberg and Rechnitz for returned favors.
Just how sly can one be? Grant, who is not Jewish, had a mezuza placed on his doorpost at the 72nd Precinct, Reichberg was once allowed to partake in a roll call at the precinct and when Grant’s office and gym had undergone renovations, it is believed to have been paid for by Reichberg and Rechnitz.
While police did not state who funded the renovations, they are supposed to be done by the NYPD’s Building Maintenance Unit.
The close ties between the three men went beyond the precinct. Both men were present for Grant’s daughter’s communion party and he took frequent trips in the US with them.
Now investigators are seeking information about an off-the-books dinner that was thrown for Midwood, cops.
It was in 2014 that Community Board 12 hosted a banquet in honor of police of Brooklyn’s 66th Precinct. It was an elaborate, event that was nothing short of fine dining. The tremendous, buffet could have served almost 400 people.
The event was catered by Basset Caterers on Avenue X and was held at a location on Mc Donald Avenue in Midwood, Brooklyn. It cost close to $3,000 of taxpayer’s money.
A previous member of the board, Aaron Tyk, told the FBI that the expense of the event did not get approval from the board and it was kept a secret by District Manager, Barry Spitzer.
Tyk wrote to the Department of Investigation and the Controller’s office stating that he was unjustly removed from the board as a result of talking about the feast. A lawsuit based on the allegations has been dismissed.
“Something like this, a private party, is unprecedented and problematic,” Tyk said.
Spitzer, the board’s district manager, said the party was properly paid for and held on June 11, 2014, to honor the precinct’s cops on Medal Day, as well as other public workers.
“I signed off on the expenses the same way I do on all of the board’s expenses. Our board’s normal procedure does not include a requirement of documentation of approval by the board on any expense,” Spitzer said.
The FBI investigation leads back to the businessmen who had received favors from the former Chief of Department, James Grant.
FBI wiretaps on the two businessmen’s phones revealed relationships with many cops and among the many was NYPD Chief of Department Philip Banks and his close friend Corrections Union President, Norman Seabrook.
The businessmen formed friendships with Banks and Seabrook that included traveling together to the Caribbean and to Israel in 2014.
“I’m trying to give Banks the benefit of the doubt, but his association with Seabrook doesn’t make me feel warm and fuzzy,” a police source said.
Reichberg and Rechnitz are being investigated on allegations of attracting high-ranking cops with gifts and trips in exchange for police favors, sources say.
Both businessmen have raised money for Mayor de Blasio, who said he first met them in 2013.
“We will see what the investigation yields. But I have no intention of accepting any donations from them while they are still being investigated,” de Blasio said regarding the inquiry, which also has yielded the ensnared Norman Seabrook, the powerful head of the correction officers’ union.
The FBI is also questioning cops about a third businessman, Hamlet Peralta. They’re investigating if police invested money with Peralta to strike a deal with the wholesale food service supplier Restaurant Depot.
The FBI asked cops if they did any favors for Perlata, owner of the Hudson River Cafe. Peralta, who once owned a liquor store had connections with high-ranking people through his establishment.”
De Blasio Donor Lost $1.9M in Ponzi Scheme Linked to Corruption Probe
DAInfo.com, April 13, 2016
“A landlord who donated to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s transition team was one of the biggest losers in an alleged Ponzi scheme that’s connected to a federal probe of the NYPD and the mayor’s campaign fundraising practices, records show.
Gerald Leibman, 74, who has owned Bronx properties that have landed on the public advocate’s bad landlord list, lost $1.9 million to accused fraudster Hamlet Peralta, according to court documents.
City records also show that Leibman made the maximum contribution — $4,500— to de Blasio’s transition team on Dec. 10, 2013.
Leibman, who has a $5 million home in the Hamptons, declined to comment when reached by phone on Monday.
“I was advised not to speak to anybody,” he said.
Leibman also denied ever making a contribution to de Blasio’s transition team.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said.
Property records show that Leibman has owned buildings in the Bronx and Washington Heights.
Last summer Leibman sold two buildings in the Bronx, at 1098 Gerard Ave. and at 1112 Gerard Ave., each for $7 million. Both buildings are currently on the Public Advocate Letitia James’ worst landlords list.
Another Bronx building at 306 East 180th St., which Leibman still owns, is on the public advocate’s watch list for having 172 violations with the Department of Housing Preservation and Development.”