Jury selection in the bribery case against ex-correction union boss Norman Seabrook is set to begin Monday.
Seabrook, 57, is accused of pocketing a $60,000 bribe in exchange for pushing $20 million in union pension money to Platinum Partners, a now-defunct hedge fund run by Murray Huberfeld, who will also be on trial.
The Manhattan Federal Court case against Seabrook and Huberfeld, 57, will involve more than cut-and-dry accusations of a kickback scheme between the former Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association prez and an allegedly fishy financier.
A key part of the prosecutors’ case will hinge on testimony from Jona Rechnitz – the big-time Mayor de Blasio donor who secretly copped a plea to doling out campaign contributions for favors. Rechnitz allegedly delivered the money to Seabrook in an $820 Ferragamo bag.
Defense lawyers for Seabrook and Huberfeld will try to discredit the alleged bagman, who has also been accused of hiding the extent of his dirty dealings from the feds.
“This is a trial about a government star witness – Jona Rechnitz,” said Paul Shechtman, Seabrook’s lawyer. “My hope is that the jury will come to appreciate that Jona and the truth have never occupied the same room.”
Rechnitz’s lawyers declined to comment on the allegations against him.
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Seabrook – who a onetime COBA exec said “has been a steady drain on the union for many years now” and “stopped promoting correction officers, and switched to promoting himself” – might have his own perception issues with the jury.
Prosecutors will likely weave a narrative of arrogance and greed.
They have claimed Seabrook complained to Rechnitz about not getting anything for investing the union’s money, saying it’s time “Norman Seabrook got paid.”
And after the alleged kickback, he was “angry” that it wasn’t enough, the feds have charged.
When the feds raided Seabrook’s home in June 2016, they not only claimed to have found a Ferragamo bag matching the one used in the payoff – agents said they happened upon 10 pairs of Ferragamo shoes.
One of the pairs Seabrook has been seen sporting in public cost $2,700.
Despite these allegations, Seabrook has continued to flaunt his wealth.
Hours after Seabrook’s arrest, he was photographed outside his Bronx home, casually smoking a cigar and enjoying coffee in his backyard.
Two months after Seabrook was collared, he asked Manhattan Federal Judge Andrew Carter to let him go on a lavish Disney vacation.
Seabrook, who made $300,000 per year as COBA’s lead honcho, recently claimed some $20,000 seized by the feds was from gambling wins at the Mohegan Sun, not bribes.