The government’s star witness in public corruption cases involving two NYPD cops and a city union official may have been involved in criminal activity — including extortion — while he was cooperating with the feds, The Post has learned.
Explosive new court documents accuse Jona Rechnitz — a Bill de Blasio donor and the fed’s key witness against two NYPD cops and ex-union official Norman Seabrook — of threatening “to go to the feds” over a scheme he was wrapped up in unless one of his wealthy friends got paid.
If proven true, “the game is over,” said a lawyer involved in one of Rechnitz’s bribery probes.
“Even if it’s legitimate monies owed — if you make a threat then that’s extortion,” this person said.
It could also force the government to rip up Rechnitz’s cooperation agreement, putting their cases in jeopardy, sources said.
According to recently unsealed NY state court documents, Rechnitz was a recruiter for a $70 million Ponzi scheme involving Jason Nissen, a former math teacher busted last week and charged by Manhattan federal prosecutors with duping investors of his wholesale ticket business.
It’s unclear whether Rechnitz knew Nissen’s ticket selling business was an alleged sham. But the court documents, filed by Diamond wholesaler Taly USA Holdings, show that he may have kept his concerns hidden from the government in hopes that one of his pals would get paid.
“Jona’s the one who told me he would go to the Feds if Weinberger doesn’t get paid,” Nissen told Taly executive Yaron Turgeman in a secretly recorded conversation from May 7th, referring to hedge fund manager Michael Weinberger.
Nissen doesn’t say when the threat was made, but sources said Nissen only started having trouble paying Rechnitz’s investor pals after Rechnitz pleaded guilty last June to conspiring to bribe public officials.
A spokeswoman for the Manhattan US Attorney’s Office declined to comment.
A lawyer for Rechnitz also declined to comment.
Meanwhile, lawyers for defendants in the bribery probes — who include ex-NYPD cops James Grant and Michael Harrington — are gearing up to demand evidence from the Nissen case be turned to help them vet whether Rechnitz broke any laws or violated the terms of his cooperation agreement.
According to Nissen, Rechnitz was a paid recruiter for the alleged scheme, earning him up to $8 million in recent years, including payments of roughly $80,000 a month on Rechnitz’s credit card bills.
“We are confident that most, if not all of the misappropriated monies will be recovered,” said Christopher Milito, lawyer for Taly USA Holdings.
To see the article in its entirety click here.