Rechnitz, Rivington, JCOPE, Care One, Podolsky and Democratic Kingmakers – De Blasio’s Sordid Campaign Finances

Dear Reader:

In our view, when someone donates to a campaign, to the legal limits of that campaign, the politician is beholden.

Politicians, lobbyists and the kingmakers of New York know how the system works. A person can legally donate to the Democratic Committee, to de Blasio’s campaign bids as mayor and now as a potential Presidential candidate, to the not-for-profits associated with the Mayor and to other small organization associated with the mayor. None of those donations is illegal. To the best of our knowledge, even if all roads lead back to de Blasio, even if each penny somehow washes through de Blasio’s hands like sands in an hourglass, the donations are still quite legal, but are they really?

If when grossed-up the donations are all legal, in our view when taken as a whole, the gross-up of the aggregated proceeds of those donations may amount to a form of legal bribery. It should be stopped. We assert further that the aggregated proceeds of the donations could amount to a form of money laundering and conspiracy and while it may be legal (or not) we are most certainly not sure it is ethical.  

As a political matter, De Blasio’s loyalties, and those of each of the organizations from which he obtains financial assistance, must naturally rest with the person who has a shekel here, a dollar there, even if each was given legally. And, we don’t see how it is not a conflict of interest when there is a person within the entire structure that sits on multiple boards or within the rank and file of multiple organizations with which de Blasio works and from which he gains his political clout (and perhaps his legal or campaign advice).  A contract here, a faulty appraisal there, the closing of an entire hospital center for luxury redevelopment, leaving people on the streets, all legal – “ish?”

We posit that if the people involved in the multiple organizations are also those chosen to make kings out of Judicial hopefuls, to destroy careers when necessary, to allocate money to political hopefuls and the list goes on, there can be nothing but a conflict of interest.

Someone should be paying attention lest New York, more specifically Brooklyn, sink into the abyss of corrupt G-dfather like politics.   

Following the money…. will keep you posted.


De Blasio’s history of campaign finance scandals

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is no stranger to fundraising scandals, even if the allegations never fully stick. Just last week, The City reported on a previously undisclosed investigation by the city Department of Investigation into potential conflict of interest violations in relation to de Blasio’s fundraising. Earlier this month, the mayor received scrutiny for receiving donations from the lawyer at the heart of a controversial real estate deal between the city and shady landlords.

Here are the other times de Blasio’s fundraising tactics have gotten him into hot water:

Federal campaign finance investigation

In 2013, de Blasio set up a nonprofit called the Campaign for One New York to support his agenda. The now-defunct organization came under federal investigation for possible campaign finance violations in 2016. Federal prosecutors from the Southern District of New York subpoenaed thousands of emails and documents from the mayor, his aides, donors to both his 2013 mayoral campaign and the Campaign for One New York to see if donors received favorable treatment from the de Blasio administration. The investigation led to the indictment of two de Blasio donors who became cooperating witnesses – restaurateur Harendra Singh, who admitted to attempting to bribe the mayor through straw donations made to his actual campaign account, and real estate developer Jona Rechnitz, who pled guilty to conspiracy charges and later testified about his close relationship to de Blasio and other benefits as a result of his donations and fundraising. At the investigation’s conclusion in 2017, federal prosecutors did not press charges against de Blasio, but did say that he acted on behalf of donors who sought favors.

Rivington House lobbying

De Blasio and his administration received extensive scrutiny from both New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer and the city Department of Investigation for how the city handled the sale of Rivington House, a former nonprofit health care facility, which is now being developed for residential purposes. A for-profit nursing home company, Allure Group, bought the property in 2015 and paid the city $16 million to lift a deed restriction that required the property to remain a nonprofit health care facility, with the expectation that the company would instead build a for-profit nursing home. Instead, Allure sold the property to Slate in 2016, which plans to convert the building to residential use and build condos. The city admitted that it had been “misled” by Allure. Prominent lobbyist and frequent de Blasio donor James Capalino represented both the original owner and Slate. Capalino steered $40,000 to de Blasio 2017 reelection campaign and cut a check for $10,000 to Campaign for One New York after pressuring the city to change the deed.

Around the same time, de Blasio also made headlines for a questionable fundraiser hosted by Suffolk Construction in Boston, a company that is currently looking to expand its business in New York City and recently hired de Blasio’s former public housing commissioner Shola Olatoye. De Blasio did not publicize the fundraiser and did not disclose the host when asked by reporters – but everything was still above board, he later argued, even if the lack of transparency made it seem like de Blasio was “violating the spirit” of his own promise not to accept campaign cash from donors with business before the city, as WNYC’s Brian Lehrer saidwhile interviewing the mayor.

State campaign finance investigation

The state also investigated the Campaign for One New York, although it took a more narrow purview and focused specifically on de Blasio’s fundraising efforts on behalf of state Senate Democrats in 2014, which was only one part of the federal inquiry. State prosecutors, in conjunction with federal prosecutors, sought to determine if de Blasio attempted to circumvent campaign contribution limits by giving donations solicited by de Blasio to smaller county committees, which have no contribution limits. Rechnitz testified that both Ross Offinger, a former campaign fundraiser for de Blasio, and the mayor personally asked him to donate over $100,000 to bolster those efforts. Like in the federal investigation, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. did not press charges against the mayor in 2017, but did say that while there was not enough evidence to indict de Blasio, his actions “appeared contrary to the intent and spirit of the laws that impose candidate contribution limits.”


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Philip Esformes, Allegations of Medicare and Medicaid Fraud, Bribery, Patient Churning, and Pocketing Money

From Law360 – Subscription

Esformes Was Obsessed With Facilities’ Census, Feds Say

Law360, Miami (March 11, 2019, 9:48 PM EDT) — The government on Monday painted a picture of nursing home owner Philip Esformes as a micromanager obsessed with patient counts at his facilities, showing jurors in the blockbuster health care fraud trial the daily predawn text messages he’d sent requesting census numbers and venting his concern when they dipped below capacity.

With expert witness Michael Petron, a forensic accounting consultant, on the stand, the prosecution showed jurors daily 5 a.m. texts from Esformes’ cellphone to a “Frank” at Oceanside, his skilled nursing facility on Miami Beach, asking for the census number at the facility, which Petron said maxed out at 196 patients.

The responses from Frank — generally 195 or 196 — backed up what Petron says he found after analyzing the Medicare claims data for Oceanside: that the facility was generally at or very close to capacity at all times.


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ADDITIONAL READING FROM LAW360 (kindly subscribe for full articles):

Ex-Hospital Director Says Nursing Home Owner Offered Bribes

Nursing Home Mogul Churned Patients For Profit, Jury Told

Witness Details Kickback Deals At Nursing Home Mogul’s Trial



Esformes, University of Pennsylvania, Basketball, Bribes and Lawsuits

From Law 360 – Must be subscribed:

Esformes’ Attys Take On Ex-Penn Coach Over Bribery Claims


Law360, Miami (March 12, 2019, 10:58 PM EDT) — Miami nursing home owner Philip Esformes’ attorneys tried Tuesday to poke holes in former University of Pennsylvania men’s basketball coach Jerome Allen’s story that he accepted bribes to get Esformes’ son into Penn, saying the two men’s relationship was not merely transactional and pointing to Allen’s mentoring of Esformes’ son.

With Allen back on the stand after testifying Friday, defense attorney Brad Horenstein displayed dozens of friendly text messages between Esformes and the former collegiate coach, who described last week how he received about $300,000 in bribes from Esformes to get his son Morris on the Penn basketball team and into the Wharton School of Business.


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Orthodox Jews Should Be Speaking Out Against the Shomrim Patrol – Another Argument for Dismantling Shomrim

It’s Time Orthodox Jews Speak Out Against Shomrim Patrol

The Brooklyn Hasidim accused of beating a young, gay black man named Taj Patterson back in 2013 are reportedly about to get a plea deal so sweet, they won’t serve a single day in prison. Patterson, who was beaten so badly that he was left blind in one eye, and who had homophobic slurs hurled at him throughout the ordeal, is surely having a hard time understanding the aftermath.

Why did local police quickly drop the investigation into his attack, despite available eyewitnesses, until his mother’s persistence shamed them into action? Why didn’t the membership of several of the alleged attackers in a Hasidic security patrol prompt the cops to widen their search to probe the discriminatory history of the Shomrim, as the patrol is called — instead of writing “CLOSED” over the case within 24 hours of the first report and listing the charge as a misdemeanor, not a hate crime? And why are the three alleged assailants who still await trial (two have already walked) apparently going to get off so easy, instead of facing prison terms?

Prosecutors haven’t told reporters why Patterson’s brutal beating isn’t worth jail time. Maybe, as anonymous sources told The Daily News, witnesses who originally implicated the defendants are suddenly getting cold feet. But in that case, Patterson must be wondering why the Brooklyn district attorney can’t charge someone among the insular, “informer”-blaming Williamsburg Hasidim with intimidating those witnesses, instead of folding his cards and letting the alleged attackers walk free.

But Orthodox Jews like me — we know why, don’t we?

For too long we’ve allowed a system of Jewish-run patrols to dominate the heavily Orthodox Jewish enclaves of Brooklyn, usurping the role of the official police force (with key support from vote-hungry politicians), despite their record of violence toward non-Jews. And for years we’ve held our tongues as the patrols’ unchecked behavior carried on.


The cover-up of the assault on Patterson isn’t the first such outrage in Brooklyn. When Orthodox patrol members in Crown Heights allegedly beat and maced Andrew Charles, another young black man, back in 2008, the key suspect was ignored by Brooklyn authorities after he fled to Israel. Prosecutors eventually did get him extradited, but while they were trying, the alleged attacker still got vigorous support from a group of “top rabbis, community heads, and [Orthodox] Assemblyman Dov Hikind,” as the Daily News reported in November 2011. Those heavy hitters even had the chutzpah to accuse the Brooklyn DA of anti-Semitism!

Read more:

Lichtenstein, Villanueva, Ochetal, Soohoo, Espinel, Velastro, Dean – The Gun License List Gets Longer and Longer

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of New York

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Former New York City Police Department Official Sentenced To 18 Months For Conspiring To Bribe Fellow Officers In Connection With Gun License Bribery Scheme

Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that PAUL DEAN was sentenced to 18 months in prison by the U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos today in connection with a bribery scheme involving the approval of gun licenses by the New York City Police Department (“NYPD”) License Division.  Specifically, DEAN, who as second-in-command of the License Division had accepted gifts and favors in connection with his approval of gun licenses, conspired upon his retirement from the NYPD to open his own “expediting” business in which he would pay bribes to his fellow NYPD officers, once his subordinates in the License Division, to issue gun licenses to DEAN’s clients.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said:  “As a high-ranking officer and supervisor in the NYPD’s License Division, Paul Dean was entrusted with ensuring the integrity of the process for issuing gun licenses in New York City.  Instead of embracing that trust and focusing on the safety of New Yorkers, he monetized it for his own benefit, and enabled officers under his command to do the same.  Together with our partners in law enforcement, my office has worked tirelessly to make sure those efforts by Dean and others involved ended not with dollar signs, but in prison cells.  We will continue to root out corrupt law enforcement officers where we find them, while commending the vast majority of officers who, unlike Dean, serve the City of New York honestly and honorably.”

According to the Indictment and Complaint filed in this case, other public filings, and statements made during the plea proceeding:

DEAN was a member of the NYPD from 1994 through 2016, and was assigned to the License Division from 2008 through 2016.  DEAN, a lieutenant, was one of the highest-ranking members of the License Division and, from approximately November 2014 through November 2015, regularly ran its day-to-day operations.  Co-defendant Robert Espinel was a member of the NYPD from 1995 through his retirement in 2016, and was assigned to the License Division from 2011 through 2016.

From at least 2013 through 2016, multiple NYPD officers in the License Division serving under DEAN’s command, including David Villanueva and Richard Ochetal, solicited and accepted bribes from gun license expediters – including Frank Soohoo, Alex Lichtenstein, a/k/a “Shaya,” and co-defendant Gaetano Valastro, a former NYPD detective – in exchange for providing assistance to the expediters’ clients in obtaining gun licenses quickly and often with little to no diligence.  DEAN, aware of this bribery arrangement, approved many of the gun license applications submitted by these expediters, despite the fact that no substantial due diligence had been performed on them.  As part of the scheme, licenses were issued for individuals with substantial criminal histories, including arrests and convictions for crimes involving weapons or violence, and for individuals with histories of domestic violence.

DEAN accepted things of value from the expediters whose applications he approved, including $1,000 cash from Lichtenstein, catered meals and alcohol from Soohoo, and gun equipment from Valastro.  DEAN also accepted gifts and favors directly from applicants whose licenses he approved, including free meals at restaurants, free liquor from a liquor distributor, free beer and soda from a beverage distributor, free car repairs from car shops, and free entertainment.

In 2015, dissatisfied with the fact that private gun expediters were profiting thousands of dollars per gun license applicant when DEAN and others did the work to approve those applications, DEAN and Espinel decided to retire and go into the expediting business themselves.  In order to ensure the success of their business, DEAN and Espinel planned to bribe Villanueva and Ochetal, who were still in the License Division, to enable their clients to get special treatment.  They also agreed with Valastro to run their expediting and bribery scheme out of Valastro’s gun store.  According to the plan, Valastro would benefit from the scheme because DEAN and Espinel would steer successful applicants to Valastro’s store to buy guns.  They also tried to corner the expediting market by forcing other expediters to work through them.  Specifically, DEAN and Espinel attempted to coerce Frank Soohoo, another gun license expediter, into sharing his expediting clients with them by threatening to use their influence in the License Division to shut down Soohoo’s expediting business if Soohoo refused to work with, and make payments to, DEAN and Espinel.

Espinel and Valastro have previously pled guilty and are awaiting sentence.  Villanueva, Ochetal, Lichtenstein, and Soohoo have also pled guilty in case number 16 Cr. 342 (SHS).  Lichtenstein was sentenced by the U.S. District Judge Sidney H. Stein to 32 months in prison, and the remaining defendants are awaiting sentence.

*                *                *

In addition to the prison term, DEAN, 46, was sentenced to two years of supervised release, a fine of $7,500, and forfeiture of $1,000.

Mr. Berman thanked the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the New York City Police Department, Internal Affairs Division, for their outstanding investigative work in this matter.

This case is being handled by the Office’s Public Corruption Unit.  Assistant United States Attorney Kimberly Ravener is in charge of the prosecution.

Public Corruption
Press Release Number:
Updated January 31, 2019

Reichberg – It’s a Dog-Eat-Dog, No… a Brother-Eat-Brother World Out There…



NYPD corruption trial gets new twist

Moshe has been granted immunity to testify, the filing said.

On Monday, the defense also played wiretaps It’s brother vs. brother in an NYPD bribe case unfolding in Manhattan federal court.

Mayor Bill de Blasio donor Jeremy Reichberg, who stands accused of bribing NYPD cops, will be facing off against his brother, Moshe Reichberg, according to a new court filing.

Prosecutors plan to call Moshe to testify as early as this week about his Borough Park police-liaison sibling’s alleged efforts to keep evidence from the FBI, the court filing said.

In addition to being charged with bribing cops, Reichberg faces one count of obstruction of justice because feds say he asked Moshe to remove incriminating evidence about his bribery scheme from his house, including business cards of high-ranking officers, documents and electronic devices.showing the government’s key witness, Jona Rechnitz, growing increasingly panicked as city and federal investigators began circling the wagons on his financial shenanigans, which led to their bribery probe.

“I hear a helicopter, I hear an ambulance, I wake up,” Rechnitz told his dad in one call.

Rechnitz and Reichberg and Ho, Ho, Ho… Merry…. Huh?



Video shows de Blasio donors allegedly delivering bribes to cops

You better watch out, you better not bribe …

Accused cop-briber Jeremy Reich­berg and cohort Jona Rechnitz donned Santa hats and cruised around in a black Aston Martin convertible to deliver Christmas grifts to officers on Staten Island, according to videos and photos released Tuesday.

The pricey goodies, including Nintendo games and American Girl dolls, were delivered to Reich­berg’s co-defendant, former NYPD Deputy Inspector James Grant, as well as retired cop Eric Rodriguez and already-convicted ex-Deputy Chief Michael Harrington, Rechnitz testified in Manhattan federal court.

“Ho, ho, ho!” Rechnitz says in the video.

Rechnitz explained that he wasn’t just channeling the jolly fat man — he was mocking one of Reichberg’s “competitors,” a man named “Abe” whom he described as also having high-level connections in the NYPD.

“You little ho,” he said of Abe in the clip.

In another video, the two men are seen driving up to a heavily protected 1 Police Plaza with ease while boasting about their ties to then-Chief of Department Philip Banks.

“We’re going to go park in the chief of department’s extra spot,” Rechnitz boasts in the video.

“Please salute us, officer, if you want to keep your job,” he adds snarkily as the men drive past a cop standing guard in the cold.

“Philip Banks is now chief of department, and we have full access,” Rechnitz explained of the statements on the witness stand.

Another photo showed Reichberg standing next to an underground parking spot for the police brass. Rechnitz says in the video that they “were parking, and then we’re going with the PC [Police Chief Banks] in his car to the ball-dropping,” referring to the New Year’s Eve Times Square crystal-ball-­descent celebration, which the NYPD controls.

Rechnitz has already admitted to bribing cops and public officials, including some in City Hall.

He testified Tuesday against Reichberg, who’s on trial for bribing police officers.

Rechnitz said Reichberg had many city officials in his pocket and used those connections to charge pals who wanted to buy their way out of jury duty and land expedited building permits.

The ex-friend recalled taking advantage of Reichberg’s cozy connections soon after meeting him about a decade ago, realizing his new buddy might be able to help him get a special placard to park wherever he wanted, including in no-parking zones.

“Everybody in the city knows that parking is a hassle,” the real estate investor and jeweler shrugged on the stand.

Rechnitz said he quickly learned that Reichberg was using his city connections, including with ­court-officer union boss Dennis Quirk, to line his own pockets.

The witness claimed that Reich­berg used Quirk to get people out of jury duty and got paid for it. Rechnitz did not say Quirk took any money.

Quirk, president of the New York State Court Officers Association, acknowledged to The Post on Tuesday that he helped Reichberg get people out of jury duty but said it was all based on legitimate adjournments and that no money was exchanged for the favors.

“I never got paid money from anybody,” Quirk said.

“If I can help somebody, I will help somebody.”

Meanwhile, Reichberg also had contacts with the city’s Department of Buildings, which he used to expedite housing permits for buddies, Rechnitz said

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