Rechnitz — appearing in the bribery trial of former city corrections-union chief Norman Seabrook — first dealt with questions about pay-to-play allegationsinvolving him and Mayor de Blasio, the NYPD and Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino.
He said he and businessman pal Jeremy Reichberg targeted the cops in the beginning, doling out gifts and cash in lieu of favors.
Soon, “We had the police going for us — and now it was time to get into politics,” Rechnitz said.
In his first meeting with de Blasio fundraiser Ross Offinger after de Blasio won the Democratic primary in 2013, Rechnitz and his pals — including Brooklyn businessman Jeremy Reichberg and Fernando Mateo, president of the New York State Federation of Taxi Drivers — made the rules clear, Rechnitz said.
“We’re going to be significant contributors, but we want access,” Rechnitz, 34, said the group told Offinger. “When we call, we want answers.
“We’re one group, and we expect a lot of access and influence.”
And they got it, Rechnitz said.
De Blasio soon visited Rechnitz at his office and handed the real-estate investor his personal cell-phone number and e-mail address.
“He said, ‘Keep in touch’ and [that] he really appreciated my friendship,” Rechnitz said.
Next thing you know, Rechnitz was talking with the mayor once a week, and Rechnitz was calling Offinger every time he had a problem that needed to be fixed, including a massive water bill for a friend, violations over a renter’s subletting one of his residences on Airbnb and a request to delay his wife’s school’s closing by a month.
Prosecutor Martin Bell asked Rechnitz whether Offinger did “in fact have the sort of pull” that Rechnitz and his friends were expecting in exchange for their contributions.
“Yes,” Rechnitz replied.
Bell asked, “How did you come to realize that?”
Rechnitz said, “Whenever we would call him for access or for a favor, we were getting the response that we expected and the results we were expecting.”
Rechnitz said he secured a spot on de Blasio’s inauguration committee thanks to his efforts to raise $100,000 for his mayoral campaign.
Rechnitz was also offered a spot on the mayor’s transition committee, but he turned it down after de Blasio rejected Reichberg for a vacancy due to diversity issues, he said.
In just one hour of testimony, Rechnitz painted a picture of a city — and beyond — completely ruled by money.
Rechnitz said Astorino gave him and Reichberg positions as police chaplains in exchange for their financial contributions — even though neither of them are rabbis or priests.
This landed them parking placards, among other perks.
Rechnitz also told a story about the time Astorino approached him with a picture of a Rolex watch and asked for helping procuring it.
“I told him I’d be happy to give it to him,” Rechnitz said, prompting Astorino to agree to pay for between $1,000 and $2,000 of the watch, with Rechnitz paying for the rest.
The government witness estimated the watch was worth as much as $10,000.
When it came to the cops, Rechnitz said, he and Reichberg were running the show — doling out gifts and cash to cops in exchange for favors, including ticket-fixing and police escorts to funerals.
He named a slew of cops — everyone from Phil Banks to James Grant to Eric Rodriguez — and talked about the time the cops, together with the Port Authority, shut down large portions of the Lincoln Tunnel so Rechnitz’s boss — an Israeli billionaire known as the “King of Diamonds” — could get to his Manhattan hotel faster.
Mayoral spokesman Eric Phillips denied the felon’s claims.
“These are nothing but re-heated, re-packaged accusations that have been extensively reviewed and passed on by authorities at multiple levels,” Phillips said. “The administration has never and will never make government decisions based on campaign contributions.”
A rep for Astorino called Rechnitz’s testimony “total contrived nonsense.
“Rob Astorino went shopping in the city for a second-hand watch several years ago. Mr. Rechnitz, who was in no trouble at the time, offered to help and took him to a store near his office,” said Astorino’s re-election campaign spokesman, William O’Reilly.
“Mr. Astorino was then offered the used watch for free. Mr. Astorino promptly declined and insisted on paying for it, which he did. He has the credit-card receipt to prove it, which he provided to the authorities prosecuting Mr. Rechnitz.
“Although this transaction occurred almost 18 months ago, Rob Astorino has never been accused of any wrongdoing by any federal or state prosecutor for any reason – he did nothing wrong,” O’Reilly said.
“Furthermore, Mr. Rechnitz never spoke with Rob Astorino about a volunteer chaplaincy for himself or anyone else.
The NYPD declined comment.
Ben Brafman, lawyer for former NYPD Chief of Department Banks, said, “I don’t have any interest in commenting about Mr. Rechnitz, but I do point out that Chief Banks has never been prosecuted for any wrongdoing.”
John Meringolo, lawyer for James Grant, whose own corruption trial is set for April 30, said, “It’s just all made up against Grant, it really is. Grant’s done nothing wrong. After Jona’s testimony today, we’re certainly going to call Mayor de Blasio to testify and prove that Jona’s lying about having the mayor’s office on speed dial. He’s lying about the mayor the same way he’s lying about Grant.”
Andrew Weinstein, lawyer for another officer tainted by Rechnitz, Michael Harrington, added, “Jona Rechnitz’s entire existence is built upon lies and deception. Any suggestion by Mr. Rechnitz that Mike Harrington was in any way complicit in his [Rechnitz’s] life of crime is but one more lie from a pathetic wannabe who is desperate to implicate others in an effort to save his own skin.”
Major de Blasio donor brags about closeness with mayor, says he expected influence for funds at Seabrook trial
One of Mayor de Blasio’s biggest donors took the witness stand Thursday to boast about his closeness to the mayor and make clear he had expected “lots of access” to Hizzoner.
The embarrassing testimony came from Jona Rechnitz, who’s pleaded guilty to corruption charges and is the star witness in the trial of disgraced jail union boss Norman Seabrook.
“I was giving money `to the Mayor of New York in exchange for favors,” he said to describe one element of the criminal offense to which he pleaded guilty.
Rechnitz described a meeting he and another donor, Jeremy Reichberg, had with de Blasio’s key fund-raiser, Ross Offinger.
“We expect a lot of access and influence,” Rechnitz said the group told Offinger. “We’re going to become significant contributors.
He said Offinger, a longtime de Blasio aide and the chief rainmaker for the mayor’s non-profit, Campaign for One New York, replied, “Okay. How much do you think you guys can get together?”
Rechnitz, who is cooperating with prosecutors in the hopes of winning lighter jail time, raised $41,000 for the mayor before his 2013 election, donated $50,000 to Campaign for One New York, and wrote a $102,300 check as part of the mayor’s 2014 failed effort to flip the state Senate to Democratic control.
Offinger, Rechnitz testified, returned with his hand out after de Blasio was elected mayor.
“He would call when they needed money,” he said. In return, “I would call whenever I had an issue.”
“I would be a ‘yes’ man,” he added. “I always gave money.”
In court he revealed that de Blasio — who has strained to distance himself from Rechnitz — even came to his office before the election.
The then-candidate “told me to call if there’s anything I need. Always be in touch.”
Rechnitz was one of several donors who got tremendous access to the mayor. De Blasio routinely ordered his minions to intervene on donors’ behalf.
Emails show de Blasio responding, “I’m all ears” when Rechnitz suggested a candidate for buildings commissioner, and City Hall intervened when he was cited for running an illegal hotel.
In response late Thursday, de Blasio’s press secretary, Eric Phillips, mocked the credibility of the mayor’s major donor.
“These are nothing but re-heated, re-packaged accusations that have been extensively reviewed and passed on by authorities at multiple levels,” he said. “The administration has never and will never make government decisions based on campaign contributions.”
Rechnitz was cooperating with the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s probe of de Blasio that result in no charges but the finding that the mayor had intervened on behalf of big donors.
Rechnitz also admitted he “straw donors” — an illegal scheme to avoid laws limiting how much contributors can give to politicians.
The law prohibits donors from masking their identity by giving to campaigns through other donors. Rechnitz said he did just that by having people in his office write checks for which he would reimburse them.
He described Offinger as a kind of bag man, dropping by his office to pick up checks.
“I told him to hold on and I’d walk out, get a few checks from people and then bring them in,” he said.
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On December 19, 2016, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York announced the indictments of seven individuals who were then or were previously associated with Platinum Partners. The same day, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filed a civil complaint in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York against the same individuals, along with certain Platinum corporate entities. Together with its complaint, the SEC asked the Court to appoint a Receiver over several Platinum entities affiliated with Platinum Partners Credit Opportunities Master Fund LP and Platinum Partners Liquid Opportunity Master Fund LP. The Court appointed Bart M. Schwartz as Receiver. Important filings in these cases are linked below. This page will be updated regularly.
U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Filings
- 07.05.17 SEC Reply in Further Support of OSC
- 06.30.17 Notice and Standing Order — A number of “interested parties,” consisting of purported creditors or victims of the defendants as a result of the securities and wire fraud alleged in this case, through their attorneys, have added themselves to the docket of this case, without seeking leave of the Court to do so. In some cases, the attorneys are admitted to practice in this Court, in others, the attorneys have sought leave to appear pro hac vice and those applications have been denied by order entered today. ANY PERSON, PERSONS, OR ENTITIES WHO ALLEGE TO BE CREDITORS OR VICTIMS ARE HEREBY PROHIBITED FROM ADDING THEMSELVES TO THE DOCKET OF THIS CASE. SUCH PERSONS SHOULD COMMUNICATE EITHER WITH THE SEC OR THE U.S. ATTORNEY’S OFFICE OF THIS DISTRICT AS THEY REPRESENT THE AGGRIEVED IN THIS CASE. None of these parties have been given leave by the Court to intervene in this action. Indeed, some never sought leave to do so. Moreover, by inappropriately adding themselves to the docket, they have created problems with the ECF system in this case. Finally, other individuals have faxed letters to chambers without first seeking permission to do so. FAXING TO CHAMBERS IS BY PERMISSION OF THE COURT ONLY. While the Court is mindful that there are victims in this case, the Court will not tolerate any violations of Court rules or procedures. NO FILINGS OR APPEARANCES WILL BE PERMITTED, UNLESS THEY ARE PERSONS WHO ARE NAMED IN THE COMPLAINT AND WHO HAVE BEEN GIVEN EXPLICIT PERMISSION OF THE COURT TO APPEAR. THE COURT WILL NOT ENTERTAIN ANY MOTION TO INTERVENE BASED SOLELY ON THE FACT THAT THE PROPOSED INTERVENOR IS A VICTIM OR CREDITOR. AGGRIEVED PERSONS SHALL CONTACT THE SEC AND THE U.S. ATTORNEY’S OFFICE FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF NY AND THOSE ENTITIES ARE DIRECTED TO PRESENT THOSE POSITIONS TO THE COURT AND DEFENDANTS. SO ORDERED by Chief Judge Dora Lizette Irizarry on 6/30/2017.
- 06.30.17 Letter seeking an Order Authorizing the Receiver to Retain and Pay Reed Smith by Bart M. Schwartz
- 06.30.17 Motion for Leave to File Reply in Further Support of Motion for Entry of Second Amended Order Appointing Receiver and Appointing Substitute Receiver by United States Securities and Exchange Commission
- 06.30.17 Letter seeking retention of Deloitte Tax LLP by Bart M. Schwartz
- 06.30.17 Letter MOTION for Leave to File Statement of Position Concerning the SEC’s Application to Appoint a New Receiver by Beechwood Re Limited, Beechwood Bermuda International Ltd.
- 06.30.17 Letter to the The Honorable Dora L. Irizarry regarding the Receiver’s Proposed Order, by Mark Nordlicht, Platinum Management (NY) LLC
- 06.30.17 Letter in response to the Letter for Approval of Resignation of Receiver by Bart M. Schwartz, the Application for an Order to Show Cause for Entry of a Second Amended Order Appointing Receiver
- 06.30.17 Letter to Honorable Dora L. Irizarry in accordance with the Court’s June 27, 2017 Order by Schafer and Weiner, PLLC
- 06.30.17 Letter Regarding Information Sharing Agreement from Levy
- 06.30.17 Independent Investor Letter Regarding OSC
- 06.30.17 Letter from Walla Regarding Arabella
- 06.29.17 Individual Defendants Response Regarding Bart M. Schwartz Resignation
- 06.29.17 Heartland Bank Response Regarding Bart M. Schwartz Resignation
- 06.28.17 Letter to The Honorable Dora L. Irizarry respectfully responding to the SEC’s motion in accordance with the Court’s Order dated June 27, 2017 by David Levy
- 06.28.17 Independent Investor letter Regarding Resignation
- 06.28.17 Letter Application for an Order Authorizing the Retention and Payment of Limited Scope Legal Professionals by Bart M. Schwartz
- Exhibit 1 – Declaration of Daniel M. Burstein, executed June 28, 2017
- Exhibit 2 – Fee Application of Hoover Slovacek, LLP
- Exhibit 3 – Fee Application of Cooper & Scully, P.C.
- Exhibit 4 – Fee Application of Ahmad, Zavitsanos, Anaipakos, Alavi & Mensing P.C.
- Exhibit 5 – Fee Application of Barrasso Usdin Kupperman Freeman & Sarver, LLC
- Exhibit 6 – Fee Application of Benesch, Friedlander, Coplan & Aronoff LLP
- Exhibit 7 – Fee Application of Ganfer & Shore, LLP
- Exhibit 8 – Fee Application of Bryan Cave LLP
- Exhibit 9 – Fee Application of Maslon LLP
- Exhibit 10 – Fee Application of Morrison Cohen, LLP
- Exhibit 11 – Certification of Paneth & O’Mahony, PLLC
- Exhibit 12 – Fee Application of Virtus Law LLP
- Exhibit 13 – Certification of Stikeman Elliot LLP
- Exhibit 14 – Fee Application of Walkers
- Exhibit 15 – Fee Application of Chediak Advogados
- Exhibit 16 – Fee Application of Leite, Tosto E Barros Advogados Associados
- Exhibit 17 – Certification of Allen & Overy LLP
- Exhibit 18 – Certification of Demarest Advogados
- Exhibit 19 – Fee Application of Kessler Collins, P.C.
- Exhibit 20 – Fee Application of O’Connell Law, PLLC
- Exhibit 21 – Proposed Order
- 06.27.17 Order Response to Motion, filed by Heartland Bank, Letter filed by David Levy, Joseph Mann, Uri Landesman, Jeffrey Shulse, Daniel Small, Joseph Sanfilippo, Mark Nordlicht — The Individual Defendants’ and Heartland Bank’s request to be heard in connection with the application by the SEC for the appointment of a new receiver is granted. The Court already has entered a scheduling order and will hear the parties further on July 7, 2017. Said parties are to file their written responses to the SEC’s motion NO LATER THAN JUNE 30, 2017 BY 3:00 PM AND PROVIDE HARD COPIES TO CHAMBERS BY THEN AS WELL. The Individual Defendants in their letter seem to make a number of arguments in opposition to the SEC’s request; any additional arguments shall be presented to the Court in the filing due on June 30, 2017. The parties should also indicate whether they would approve of Melanie Cyganowski as the new receiver should the Court grant the SEC’s application. NO EXTENSIONS WILL BE GRANTED. With respect to the conference to be held on July 7, 2017, the parties should be prepared to address whether decision on any pending motions made by the Receiver for various authorizations should be stayed pending the Court’s decision on the motion to appoint a new receiver. SO ORDERED by Chief Judge Dora Lizette Irizarry on 6/27/2017.
- 06.27.17 Letter in response to the SEC’s letter dated 6/21/17 by Bart Schwartz
- 06.27.17 Letter by United States Securities and Exchange Commission
- 06.27.17 Order denying Motion for Hearing — As an initial matter, the letter requesting a hearing concerning the payment of compensation for past employment to two employees was addressed to the Hon. Kiyo A. Matsumoto, U.S.D.J., who is not assigned to this case. It should have been addressed to the undersigned. For the reasons set forth in the letter filed by the current Receiver opposing the disbursement, which is joined in by the SEC, the request to lift the stay imposed in December 2016 Order appointing the Receiver, and amended in January 2017, is denied. The employees stand in the same position as other creditors and victims in this case. Moreover, given that a new receiver likely will be appointed, it is inappropriate to grant any such request at this time. SO ORDERED by Chief Judge Dora Lizette Irizarry on 6/27/2017.
- 06.27.17 Order denying Motion for Leave to Electronically File Document under Seal ; denying Motion for Leave to Electronically File Document under Seal — The SEC’s request to file under seal its letter regarding the termination of the Receivership of Mr. Bart M. Schwartz (“Receiver”) is denied. The SEC set forth no factual basis warranting the filing under seal other than representing that it contained certain “sensitive matters bearing on the Receivership.” Particularly disturbing is that counsel for Defendants Nordlicht and Platinum Management (NY), LLC (PMNY), in opposing the sealing, notes that, in effect the motion was made ex parte, as the SEC refused to provide the document it seeks to seal, but advised counsel that, if the court granted the motion to seal, the SEC would not oppose any motion to unseal it. The Court agrees with counsel that, by its conduct, the SEC improperly filed a document ex parte without leave of the Court and without proper notice to the parties. Moreover, the SEC’s representation clearly indicates that sealing is not necessary, but rather a sheer waste of the Court’s time and resources and perhaps gamesmanship, which this Court previously advised the parties it would not tolerate. The Receiver’s request to file its document under seal also is rejected, because his request is made solely on the basis that the SEC filed its papers under seal. ALL PARTIES ARE HEREBY ADMONISHED THAT UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES IS ANY PARTY TO MAKE AN APPLICATION FOR THE SEALING OF ANY DOCUMENT VIA ECF ON ITS OWN. NOR IS ANY PARTY TO FILE ANY DOCUMENT UNDER SEAL. IF A PARTY WISHES TO FILE A DOCUMENT UNDER SEAL, A PDF OF THE DOCUMENT SHALL BE EMAILED TO MY CASE MANAGER, CHRISTY CAROSELLA, AND TWO HARD COURTESY COPIES ARE TO BE FORWARDED TO HER ATTENTION FORTHWITH. IF THE SEALING IS GRANTED, THEN THE COURT WILL HAVE THE DOCUMENT FILED UNDER SEAL. ANY PARTY VIOLATING THIS PROCEDURE WILL BE SANCTIONED AND ANY DOCUMENT FILED UNDER SEAL IN CONTRAVENTION OF THIS ORDER SHALL BE STRICKEN SUMMARILY. Finally, despite previous admonitions to the parties to provide 2 hard courtesy copies of all filings to chambers immediately upon filing, the Court is not receiving hard courtesy copies of filings by all parties. The parties are reminded again to provide 2 hard courtesy copies to chambers IMMEDIATELY upon filing, such that they are received NO LATER THAN THE NEXT BUSINESS DAY BY 4:00 PM. SO ORDERED by Chief Judge Dora Lizette Irizarry on 6/27/2017.
- 06.27.17 Scheduling Order regarding the Unsigned Order to Show Cause filed by United States Securities and Exchange Commission — A Show Cause Hearing will be held on July 7, 2017 at 10:30 AM in Courtroom 4 A South. So Ordered by Chief Judge Dora Lizette Irizarry on 06/27/2017.
- 06.26.17 Heartland Bank Letter Regarding New Receiver
- 06.26.17 Individual Defendants Letter Regarding New Receiver
- 06.26.17 SEC Unsigned OSC Regarding New Receiver
- 06.26.17 Declaration of Neal Jacobson In Support of OSC
- 06.26.17 Declaration of Melanie Cyganowski
- 06.26.17 SEC Second Amended New Receiver Order Redlined
- 06.26.17 SEC Second Amended New Receiver Order
- 06.26.17 SEC MOL in Support of OSC Regarding New Receiver
- 06.26.17 Proposed Order Regarding New Receiver
- 06.26.17 SEC Application for an Order to Show Cause for Entry of a Second Amended Order Appointing Receiver and Appointment of a Substitute Receiver
- 06.23.17 Stipulation Regarding Information Sharing
- 06.23.17 Monitor Resignation Letter
- 06.08.17 Letter regarding First Joint Interim Application of Receiver and Guidepost Solutions, LLC for Allowance of Compensation and Reimbursement of Expenses by Bart Schwartz
- 06.08.17 Letter Regarding Fee Applications by United States Securities and Exchange Commission
- 06.08.17 Letter regarding the First Application of Cooley LLP for Allowance of Compensation and Reimbursement of Expenses by Bart Schwartz
- 06.02.17 SEC Response to Novak Employee Letter
- 05.31.17 Status Letter Regarding Fee Applications by United States SEC
- 05.31.17 Receiver Response to Novak Employee Letter
- 05.30.17 First Motion for Hearing to Lift Stay so Employees Can Sue to Obtain Payment for Past Services
- 05.30.17 Letter Responding to Plaintiff’s 05.19.17 Letter by David Levy
- 05.26.17 Letter Responding to Plaintiff’s 05.19.17 Letter by Mark Nordlicht, Platinum Management (NY) LLC
- 05.24.17 Letter Submitting Cooley’s First Fee Application by Bart Schwartz
- 05.24.17 Letter Submitting Receiver and Guidepost’s First Fee Application by Bart Schwartz
- 05.19.17 Status Letter to Court
- 05.17.17 Settlement Agreement – Platinum Partners and Black Elk
- 04.27.17 First Quarterly Report
- 04.18. 17 Letter in Further Response to Receiver Request
- 04.14.17 Letter Providing Additional Information to Aid the Court’s Consideration of the Receiver’s 03.23.2017 Letter
- 04.04.17 Letter in Further Response to Receiver Request
- 03.31.17 Letter for Chief Judge Dora L. Irizarry
- 03.30.17 Letter In Response to the Receiver’s Request to Expand the Scope of the Current Receivership
- 03.29.17 Letter in Response to Receiver Request
- 03.23.17 Letter on Behalf of the Receiver Respectfully Requesting that this Court Expand the Scope of the Current Recivership
- 03.23.17 Letter on Behalf of the Receiver Requesting the Court’s Approval to Retain and Pay Houlihan Lokey
- 03.22.17 Letter On Behalf of the Receiver Seeking the Court’s Permission to Retain PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP
- 03.08.17 Order Authorizing Receiver to Provide DIP Financing for Northstar Offshore Group LLC.
- 03.08.17 Order on Consent Imposing Preliminary Injunction and Other Relief
- 03.03.17 Letter Requesting Entry of Proposed Order on Consent Imposing Preliminary Injunction
- 02.17.17 Letter in Response to the Receiver’s Request to Expend Funds
- 02.17.17 Letter Respectfully Requesting that this Court Issue an Order Authorizing the Receiver to Expend Funds
- 02.17.17 Exhibit: Proposed Order Authorizing Receiver to Provide DIP Financing for Northstar Offshore Group LLC.
- 02.16.17 Letter In Response to Orders of 02.14.2017 and 02.16.2017
- 01.31.17 Affidavit / Declaration in Support of Motion for More Definite Statement Application for Order Approving the Retention of Cooley LLP
- 01.31.17 Motion for Definite Statement Application for Order Approving the Retention of Cooley LLP.
- 01.31.17 Affidavit/ Declaration In Support for Motion for Definite Statement
- 01.31.17 Motion for More Definite Statement
- 01.30.17 Letter advising the Court of Recent Developments in Advance of the Order to Show Cause Hearing
- 01.27.17 Affidavit / Declaration in Support: Motion for Order to Show Cause filed by Bart Schwartz
- 01.26.17 Letter on behalf of the Receiver Bart Schwartz advising the Court of recent developments in advance of the Order to Show Cause hearing
- 01.24.17 Letter from Celia Goldwag Barenholtz on behalf of Bart Schwartz
- 01.24.17 Affidavit / Declaration in Support: Joint Motion for Order to Show Cause Reply Declaration of Receiver Bart M. Schwartz
- 01.24.17 Affidavit / Declaration in Support: Joint Motion for Order to Show Cause Declaration of Christopher D. Lindstrom
- 01.24.17 Reply in Support: Joint Motion for Order to Show Cause
- 01.19.17 Affidavit / Declaration in Opposition: Joint Motion for Order to Show Cause by Craig Smyser
- 01.19.17 Response in Opposition: Joint Motion for Order to Show Cause filed by Richard Schmidt
- 01.13.17 Affidavit / Declaration in Support: Consent Motion for More Definite Statement Motion for an Order Lifting the Litigation Stay
- 01.12.17 Consent Motion for More Definite Statement Motion for an Order Lifting the Litigation Stay
- 01.09.17 Memorandum in Support: Joint Motion for Order to Show Cause
- 01.09.17 Affidavit / Declaration in Support of Joint Motion for Order to Show Cause Declaration of Neal Jacobson
- 01.09.17 Affidavit / Declaration in Support of Joint Motion for Order to Show Cause
- 01.09.17 Joint Motion for Order to Show Cause by Bart Schwartz, United States Securities and Exchange Commission
- 12.19.16 Complaint
- 12.19.16 Notice
- 12.19.16 Order Appointing Receiver
- 12.19.16 Proposed Order to show cause, temp restraining order, order appointing receiver, and granting other relief
- 12.19.16 Proposed Order
- 12.19.16 SummonsJoint Motion for Order to Show Cause by Bart Schwartz, United States Securities and Exchange Commission
- 12.19.16 Minute Entry For Proceedings Held Before Magistrate Judge Lois Bloom – Arraignment as to Mark Nordlicht
- 12.19.16 Minute Entry For Proceedings Held Before Magistrate Judge Lois Bloom – Arraignment as to Joseph Sanfilippo
- 12.19.16 Minute Entry For Proceedings Held Before Magistrate Judge Lois Bloom – Arraignment as to Daniel Small
- 12.19.16 Minute Entry For Proceedings Held Before Chief Judge Dora Lizette Irizarry – Arraignment as to David Levy
- 12.19.16 Minute Entry For Proceedings Held Before Magistrate Judge Lois Bloom – Arraignment to Uri Landsman
- 12.19.16 Minute Entry for Proceedings Held Before Magistrate Judge Lois Bloom – Arraignment As To Joseph Mann
- 12.19.16 Order for Acceptance of Cash Bail
- 12.19.16 Arrest Warrant
- 12.14.16 Indictment
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.
The government’s key witness in multiple corruption probes was a part-time “loan shark” who made money doling out predatory loans, court documents alleged on Tuesday.
Jona Rechnitz — the government’s witness against two NYPD cops accused of taking bribes — “was nothing more than a loan shark” when it came to his business dealings with Hamlet Peralta, the former owner of a Harlem eatery that was popular with cops, Peralta’s lawyer said.
Peralta, the former owner of the Hudson River Cafe, stands accused of running a $12 million Ponzi scheme tied to an allegedly fictitious wholesale liquor business.
Peralta’s lawyer, Cesar de Castro, made the allegations against Rechnitz as part of a legal tug-of-war with feds about what evidence can be introduced at Peralta’s upcoming May trial.
The government wants to call as witnesses victims of Peralta’s alleged scheme who were recruited by Rechnitz — and who learned of the scheme through Rechnitz.
De Castro has objected, arguing that statements made by Rechnitz cannot be offered as the truth because he was engaged in his own loan-sharking scheme.
“Evidence at trial will show that (Rechnitz) was not Mr. Peralta’s agent but the architect of his own scheme in order to bleed Mr. Peralta dry,” de Castro said.
Rechnitz’s lawyer, Alan Levine, declined to comment.
Rechnitz, a real estate investor, is also the government’s key witness in the upcoming bribery trial of Norman Seabrook, former head of NYC’s correction officers’ union.
De Blasio won’t face federal, state charges in fundraising probe
Mayor Bill de Blasio won’t be facing federal or state criminal charges for fundraising activities tied to his now defunct Campaign for One New York, officials announced on Thursday.
“After careful deliberation, given the totality of the circumstances here and absent additional evidence, we do not intend to bring federal criminal charges against the Mayor or those acting on his behalf relating to the fundraising efforts in question,” acting U.S. Attorney Joon Kim announced on Thursday.
The investigations hinged on whether de Blasio solicited donations from developers and others who had business before the city in exchange for political favors. In October, the New York Time’s reported that Jona Rechnitz, the real estate developer at the center of the NYPD corruption scandal, was cooperating with authorities. The mayor was accused of giving a retired police official a high-level position in his administration after Rechnitz called him and requested the appointment as a “personal favor.” The federal investigation was conducted by the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI. The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office led the state probe.
In his announcement, District Attorney Cyrus Vance stated that there wasn’t enough evidence to prove that the mayor violated state election laws in his efforts to help Democrats take over the Republican-controlled state Senate. The investigation focused on whether he wrongfully sidestepped contribution limits to individual candidates by directing donations to upstate county committees. Vance said, however, that the actions “appear contrary to the intent and spirit of the laws that impose candidate contribution limits.”
Kim noted the unusual nature of announcing that his office wouldn’t pursue criminal charges, saying that, in this case, it was appropriate to not “unduly influence the upcoming campaign and Mayoral election.” The announcement comes just a few days after President Donald Trump fired Preet Bharara from his post as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.
The decision not to prosecute clears what was a black cloud over the mayor’s re-election campaign. It remains to be seen if potential Democratic challengers who were waiting on the sidelines as the investigation dragged on will now step aside. Meanwhile, Republican mayoral candidate and Cushman & Wakefield executive Paul Massey announced Wednesday that he raised twice as much as de Blasio since Jan. 12.
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