Former N.Y. attorney general Eric Schneiderman won’t face charges after four women claim he abused them
THE DAILY NEWS
THE DAILY NEWS
A de Blasio donor on trial for allegedly bribing cops was profiting off his powerful connections, including charging a family money to facilitate getting a relative out of jail, a witness testified Wednesday.
Jeremy Reichberg charged the family of Brooklyn cabinetmaker Avi Zangi $2,500 to intervene after Zangi was arrested in 2015 for rear-ending someone while driving with a suspended license, it was claimed at the Manhattan federal- court trial.
The witness, contractor Boaz Gazit, said he reached out to Reichberg on behalf of Zangi’s family because they understood the Borough Park businessman was “connected” to the NYPD.
“Yeah, they know he [Reichberg] is connected and he can get him [Zangi] out somehow,” Gazit said.
“[Reichberg] says he’s going to call someone for $2,500 and, ‘I can get him out in two hours.’ ”
Reichberg got paid despite failing to spring Zangi that night, according to earlier testimony from the Brooklyn highway patrol officer who arrested Zangi.
Officer Theresa Haley told the jury earlier that Reichberg’s pal and co-defendant James Grant called her precinct while she was processing Zangi and asked her why he wasn’t getting off with a “desk ticket,” which would have sent Zangi home that night instead of being sent on to Central Booking.
Haley said she refused the request, despite Grant’s high rank as an NYPD deputy inspector, which is an appointed position.
Reichberg stands accused of a years-long scheme to bribe cops, including Grant, along with real-estate investor Jona Rechnitz, who has pleaded guilty and is cooperating with the feds.
The four-week trial is expected to smear several cops who the feds say also did favors for Reichberg and Rechnitz in exchange for meals and vacations — but who were never charged.
Gazit also told the jury on Wednesday that he installed new windows in Grant’s home in 2013 at the behest of Reichberg.
The windows together with the construction cost roughly $8,000, but he was only paid $2,000 — by Reichberg, he said.
Lawyers for the defense argued that Gazit wasn’t paid for the windows because he did a bad job.
They also claimed that the $2,500 that Reichberg was paid to help following Zangi’s arrest was for actual work, including hiring a lawyer.
Hispanic man allegedly roughed up in his doorway by Jewish neighborhood security patrol raises questions about group’s tactics
TIMES OF ISRAEL 28.March.2018
Five former chiefs of the Mossad spy agency leveled harsh criticism at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this week, with one saying that Israel was “dangerously sick” under his leadership.
“I feel so bad about what is happening in the country, the corruption is so deep, so pervasive,” Shabtai Shavit told the Yedioth Ahronoth daily in an excerpt of a joint sit down interview ahead of Independence Day. “There are no red lines, no taboos and add to that the deepening rift among the people.”
Shavit was joined by Zvi Zamir, Nahum Admoni, Danny Yatom, Efraim Halevy and Tamir Pardo in expressing serious concerns about Israel’s future.
“As intelligence people, our most important skill is being able to anticipate the future,” Shavit added. “So I ask myself what kind of country will my grandchildren inherit, and I cannot give an answer to that.”
“It’s a problem of values, of divisions,” Pardo said. “We need leadership that is able to navigate between crises at the right places, but unfortunately, that does not exist today.”
Zamir, the oldest of the group at age 93, fired off the sharpest criticism of Netanyahu, saying the prime minister and his powerful cronies were only serving their own interests.
“I’m not sure that for the prime minister and the senior officials surrounding him that public interests prevail over their personal interests of more money and more power,” he said.
“We are dangerously sick,” he said. “Netanyahu may have inherited a country with symptoms, but he has ushered it into a state of malignant disease.”
Yatom echoed Zamir’s sentiment, saying it was unsurprising that Netanyahu and a growing number of his associates are under investigation for corruption, because they put their own interests ahead of the country’s.
Israel, he warned, was “on a downward spiral,” and called on the prime minister to resign.
In his interview, Halevy criticized Netanyahu, saying his “need for headlines and obsession with his public image verses running the country and managing its security matters is problematic.”
“I think something very bad has happened to leadership in Israel,” he added. “There is a major flaw in the political system that everything that isn’t illegal is kosher.”
88-year-old Admoni said his main concern with Israel today is the growing rift between Israelis, asserting the divide between religious and secular populations was “worse than its ever been.”
“The divide just keeps growing,” Admoni lamented.
Nearly all of the former intelligence officials have publicly censured Netanyahu in the past, though the extensive criticism leveled against him in Yedioth on Tuesday was unprecedented.
The full interview with the six former Mossad chiefs will run in Yedioth’s weekend magazine, 7 Days, on Friday.
Netanyahu is embroiled in several corruption scandals and was questioned again by police on Monday in connection with the Bezeq scandal, known as case 4000.
The probe involves suspicions that Netanyahu, who has served as communications minister for several years over his past two terms as premier, advanced regulatory decisions benefiting Bezeq controlling shareholder Shaul Elovitch in exchange for flattering coverage of the Netanyahus from the Elovitch-owned Walla news site.
In addition to Case 4000, Netanyahu is also suspected of wrongdoing in so-called cases 1000 and 2000, in which police have recommended he be indicted for bribery, breach of trust and fraud.
In Case 1000, Netanyahu and his wife are suspected of receiving illicit gifts from billionaire benefactors, amounting to some NIS 1 million ($282,000) worth of cigars and champagne from the Israeli-born Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan and Australian resort owner James Packer, allegedly in return for certain benefits.
Case 2000 involves a suspected illicit quid-pro-quo deal between Netanyahu and Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper publisher Arnon Mozes that would have seen the prime minister weaken a rival daily, the Sheldon Adelson-backed Israel Hayom, in return for more favorable coverage from Yedioth.
Netanyahu denies wrongdoing in all the cases.
Outrageous: Shelly Silver, one of the worst abusers of the public trust in recent New York history, just got his 2015 conviction tossed on technical grounds.
Prosecutors promise a new trial, but justice has already been delayed far too long here.
A federal appeals court Thursday tossed the former Assembly speaker’s 2015 corruption conviction because a later Supreme Court ruling tweaked the rules for what counts as political corruption.
Yet the same 2nd Circuit of Appeals had just affirmed the bribery conviction of ex-Assemblyman William Boyland Jr. despite similar issues.
And the evidence against Silver proves corruption under the new rules as well as the old.
- The then-speaker funneled some $500,000 in state grants to a doctor who, in turn, sent patients to Silver’s law firm, Weitz & Luxenberg — which then paid Silver for the referrals.
- In another scheme, Silver voted to OK tax-exempt financing for a real-estate developer, Glenwood Management, and for favorable rent- and tax-abatement laws. In exchange, Glenwood took some work to the firm of another Silver pal, which in turn paid “fees” to the speaker.
Silver pocketed at least $4 million from these kickbacks.
At trial, his defense boiled down to “everybody does it.” But while the Legislature is indeed profoundly corrupt, that doesn’t make any of it legal.
And certainly not these abuses of power by a man who ruled as speaker for more than two decades.
Yes, the Supreme Court last year tossed the corruption conviction of ex-Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell over too-broad instructions to the jury about what defines “official acts.” But Silver’s case involved far more clear-cut bribes — and more clear-cut abuse of power — than McDonnell’s.
Yet somehow the 2nd Circuit thinks a “rational jury” might not have found Silver guilty if it had been “properly instructed.”
Let’s hope prosecutors move quickly to a new trial. The best medicine for New York’s rampant corruption is swift, harsh punishment for the abusers. And Silver, 73, has already been free for far too long.
But one statistic stands out among all other municipalities in the state. There are 10,000 more children in households with married couples in Lakewood receiving food, income or state aid than the next closest town.
Of the 43,600 children under 18 years of age, 18,200 with married parents receive government assistance. Newark, the largest city in the state, is second with 7,800 families receiving aid, according to the Census Bureau’s 2015 5-year average American Community Survey.
That poverty indicator is telling in two ways: Lakewood has a strong family tradition with many of it residents living in a two-parent household with young children, yet most of those families can’t make ends meet without government help.
Following the FBI’s public assistance fraud raids this week that saw the arrest of seven married couples with children, it may be an understatement that many township residents are in a “panic,” as termed by one of the leaders of the majority Orthodox Jewish community.
“It’s absolute panic,” said Rabbi Moshe Weisberg, a member of Lakewood’s Vaad, or Jewish council, about the mood in the town after this week’s arrests. “People are begging us for guidance.”
Rapidly growing Lakewood has more than 100,000 residents, up 15,000 from 2010, according to census records. The average Lakewood resident is 22.4 years old – making it one of the youngest towns in the state – and roughly 31 percent of people in town live under the poverty line, including retirees and single residents, according to the Census Bureau. The median household income in the town is just under $42,000, which is in the bottom 5 percent of N.J. towns, data shows.
Lakewood has a flourishing Jewish population, thanks in no small part to Beth Medrash Govoha, one of the largest yeshivas in the world, which now has about 6,500 students, according to Aaron Kotler, CEO of the yeshiva.
Seven married couples were arrested in Lakewood this week on charges of welfare fraud, including a well-known rabbi of a congregation. He and his wife are accused of taking more than $338,000 in public assistance they weren’t entitled to receive. Five couples face state charges and the other two couples face federal charges. Combined, they are accused of stealing about $2 million in government assistance.
After the arrests, and considering so many Lakewood families receive some form of public assistance, the Vaad on Wednesday announced that it will hold seminars to educate residents about the rules for full financial disclosure when it comes to applying for and collecting public assistance.
“Federal and state social safety-net programs are meant for those in need, even those in need have rules and criteria that must be strictly followed,” the Vaad said in its statement. “To deliberately bend a safety-net eligibility rule is stealing, no different than stealing from your friend or neighbor.”
Weisberg said that many young Jewish families collect public assistance as their families grow.
The men are often studying in yeshivas and have moderate incomes, if any income at all, he said. Census data shows that 3,302 people in Lakewood between the ages of 25 and 34 — 21.8 percent of everyone in that age range — are enrolled in school, most of those likely being yeshiva students.
Meanwhile, there is strong community pressure for men and women to have large families and send the children to private Jewish schools.
“The average family feels it an absolute necessity to send their children to private schools,” Weisberg said, adding that large families are also a part of Jewish culture. “They really want to build a large family with lots of happy children.
“Financial considerations come second,” he said.
To make ends meet, many of these families rely on public assistance, Weisberg said.
Duvi Honig, CEO of the Lakewood-based Orthodox Jewish Chamber of Commerce, said for many Jewish families, collecting public assistance is almost an inevitability.
“People have such overhead that they don’t have a choice,” Honig said.
Honig and Weisberg condemned the alleged assistance fraud but acknowledged that some residents are tempted to take more welfare than they’re entitled to get.
“There are bad actors and bad apples,” Weisberg said. “A lot of this is not, most of this is not.”
Weisberg added that the vast majority of people reaching out to the Vaad after the arrests are concerned about what they termed as minor discretions in their public assistance applications, not people involved in a large-scale welfare fraud scheme.
Some of the minor discretions Weisberg mentioned are not reporting cash gifts or school tuition received from family members.
“These are families under stress,” he said. “Regrettably, people are a little loose with it.
“Until the hammer falls, people are lax about it.”
The hammer is expected to keep falling in Lakewood.
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LostMessiah – 23 June 2017