District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein Got It Right, Those Who Think Otherwise Are Missing the Point
Murray Huberfeld in November 2017 outside federal court in lower Manhattan. Photo Credit: Charles Eckert
We believe, in no uncertain terms, that District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein, got it very right to the extent of his available sentencing capacity when he sentenced Platinum founder Murray Huberfeld to 30 months and $19M.
Judge Hellerstein understood the magnitude of the crime that Huberfeld perpetrated on the COBA members. He was clearly aligned with he notion that you cannot punish the bribed without punishing the person or people who orchestrated the scheme underlying that bribe. And Platinum Partners in all its glory was a scheme. Hellerstein recognized that Huberfeld’s “conduct was not only corrupt and criminal, but led to the loss of millions of dollars of union retirement benefits,” Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said.
According to the article in the Daily News “
Prosecutors considered Huberfeld, who was the briber, less culpable than Seabrook, the bribe-taker. Assistant U.S. Attorney Martin Bell noted that Seabrook had deceived the correction officers he represented.
“(Huberfeld) didn’t know the correction officers. They didn’t know him. He had no responsibility to them,” Bell said.
Huberfeld attorney Henry Mazurek insisted that his client had not known that Platinum was doomed at the time he paid the bribe. Rather, Huberfeld had sought out COBA — using crooked Mayor de Blasio donor Jona Rechnitz as an intermediary — to boost his own status within the hedge fund.
For Assistant US Attorney, Martin Bell, to agree with Huberfeld’s attorneys is ridiculous. With all due respect it shows a fundamental lack of understanding of our financial system, a lack of clarity with regard to Huberfeld’s long history of trampling on our legal and financial system and a lack of disregard for the victims of Platinum’s fraud. US Attorney Martin Bell should be celebrating the work he did that led to Judge Hellerstein’s rulings, rather than giving impetus for a litany of appeals on the part of Marty Huberfeld.
We applaud Judge Hellerstein’s comments with regard both to Huberfeld’s attorneys’ statements and if in agreement the statements of Bell when, as the Daily News states:
But Hellerstein called that argument “nonsense.” He held Seabrook, Rechnitz and Huberfeld jointly liable for the loss of the investment.
Hellerstein’s assessment of the absurdity of this argument speaks volumes.
Under legal regulatory guidelines a person who pedals an investment has a fiduciary duty to the investor, whether they know that investor or not. For a contrary argument to have even been raised highlights a lack of understanding of the SEC and the protections put in place to safeguard investments.
Were COBA to have been an ERISA fund, the fiduciary duty would have been greater. These were the livelihoods of people at stake, their futures and those of their children and grandchildren we placed at risk. And Murray Huberfeld knew it the moment he solicited the investment and bribed Norman Seabrook to transfer funds. The COBA investments and the fiduciary duty of Platinum’s partners and Norman Seabrook are the very foundation of investment policy. And they are no less legally bound.
The bribery and fraud underlying the loss of those investments was criminal. It lacked moral boundaries, put the foundation of the US financial system at risk and raises questions regarding the safeguards in place for investors.
Assistant US Attorney Martin Bell’s comments, if not taken out of context in the various new articles, increases the magnitude of the risks that Huberfeld and those like him pose to investors, if appropriate punishments are not levied.
A hedge fund founder from Lawrence who was part of a scheme to bribe the leader of New York City’s correction officers union to invest $20 million in his firm was sentenced to 30 months in prison Tuesday, officials said. His attorney vowed to appeal the term.
Murray Huberfeld, 57, who founded Platinum Partners hedge fund, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein in connection with the transfer of $60,000 that prosecutors said was used to bribe Norman Seabrook, the former president of the Correction Officers Benevolent Association, to invest tens of millions in Platinum.
In all, the union lost $19 million of its $20 million investment with Platinum. As much as $15 million was from a retirement benefits program funded by the City of New York that invests money for correction officers’ retirements.
Huberfeld pleaded guilty in May to wire fraud conspiracy. Specifically, he pleaded to conspiring with Jona Rechnitz, a real estate businessman and star government witness in several federal corruption trials, to cause Huberfeld’s hedge fund to pay $60,000 to Rechnitz’s company by falsely representing that the money was payment for courtside tickets to eight New York Knicks basketball games.
Prosecutors said that money was really intended for Seabrook, a payment for making the investment of the union’s funds. Rechnitz had testified in Seabrook’s trial that he delivered $60,000 in cash to Seabrook in a Salvatore Ferragamo bag in 2014 after the union’s funds were invested with Platinum.
“Not content with being a successful businessman, Murray Huberfeld sought to grow his fund through fraud and deception, playing a critical role in a pernicious kickback scheme,” said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman in a statement. “His conduct was not only corrupt and criminal, but led to the loss of millions of dollars of union retirement benefits. The sentence imposed today reflects the magnitude of his crimes and untold pain his conduct caused to others.”
Shocking video has surfaced, documenting the easy access achieved by a pair of donors to Mayor Bill de Blasio who reportedly used gifts and bribes to weasel their way into the very heart of the New York Police Department.
A photo taken at a dinner showing donors Jeremy Reichberg and Jona Rechnitz bracketing then-NYPD Chief of Department Philip Banks takes on a new whole new meaning in light of the astonishing dash cam video played out at Reichberg’s trial on charges of bribing police officers.
The video shows Reichberg and Rechnitz, who has already pleaded guilty and is testifying as a government witness, somehow gain access to the heavily protected underground garage at the department’s headquarters in lower Manhattan.
“We’re passing the frozen zone, about to get to the garage,” Rechnitz can be heard saying on video.
He then boasted about their ties to Banks, at the time the top uniformed cop in the city.
“We’re going to go park in the chief of department’s extra spot,” Rechnitz said.
The pair’s brazen belief in how much access their money has given them was on full display as they approached a cop standing guard in the cold.
“Please salute us, officer, if you want to keep your job,” Rechnitz boasted.
Then, they can be heard barking orders as they entered the garage — a place that’s even off-limits to rank and file cops.
“I would expect that the chief, the PC, sent us a representative to walk us up to the private elevator,” Rechnitz said. “I expect nothing less.”
Banks, who has not been charged with any wrongdoing, did in fact send an escort who can be seen greeting the pair effusively. Jurors were also shown pictures and video of the pair wearing Santa Claus hats and driving a black Aston Martin to deliver Christmas presents to officers, but it was the unfettered access to police headquarters that’s riled police experts.
“This is totally outrageous to give people who aren’t members of the service this kind of access,” expert Joe Giacalone said. “When you do something like this, you corrupt the entire organization.”
Banks’ lawyer, Ben Brafman, told CBS2 his client would not comment on any evidence in the trial which resumes on Friday.
A video released Tuesday shows accused NYPD bribers, Jeremy Reichberg and Jona Rechnitz, riding around in an Aston Martin while wearing Santa hats to allegedly deliver bribes to cops. Reichberg, a Bill de Blasion campaign donor, and Rechnitz, filmed themselves driving on Staten Island and hand-delivering Christmas gifts to officers, according to videos released by the Department of Justice. Those items were delivered to former NYPD Deputy Inspector James Grant, retired officer Eric Rodriguez and convicted ex-Deputy Chief Michael Harrington, Rechnitz, who testified against Reichberg on Tuesday, said. In the video, the men are seen driving up to 1 Police Plaza in 2014.
Original Article: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6415323/Donors-Bill-Blasio-filmed-wearing-Santa-hats-delivered-bribes-cops.html
Original Video: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/video/news/video-1808842/Video-Accused-cop-bribers-insult-rival-brag-NYPD-connections.html
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Charges brought against four men arrested Monday in a widening city corruption probe include lurid claims that a top police official roomed with a prostitute during a Las Vegas trip as businessmen spent over $100,000 to ensure unformed officers were available as their private security force.
Two high-ranking New York Police Department officials and a police sergeant who oversaw gun license applications were among the latest arrests in a case that has cast a cloud over the nation’s largest municipal police force.
Deputy Chief Michael Harrington, Deputy Inspector James Grant and a third defendant, Brooklyn businessman Jeremy Reichberg, were charged with conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud — the latest development in a series of overlapping public corruption investigations coordinated by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. David Villanueva, an NYPD sergeant assigned to the gun license bureau, was arrested on charges of conspiring to commit bribery.
In announcing the arrests, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said Reichberg exchanged bribes for “cops on call.”
Harrington was second in command at police headquarters in an office responsible for all uniformed operations.
The complaint said Harrington and an unidentified police chief let a businessman buy dinner once or twice a week for 18 months at expensive Manhattan restaurants, where bills ran $400 to $500.
Andrew Weinstein, Harrington’s lawyer, said the charges against his client were politically motivated.
Among favors was $59,000 spent on a private jet in February 2013 that took Reichberg, an unidentified detective and James Grant, commander of an Upper East Side precinct, to Las Vegas, the court papers said. The complaint said Reichberg and another businessman arranged for a prostitute to join the flight and spend the weekend with the group, staying in Grant’s luxury hotel room.
The head of Grant’s union declined to comment. His lawyer didn’t immediately return a message seeking comment.
Reichberg, Harrington and Grant were each charged with conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud.
The fourth person arrested Monday was David Villanueva, an NYPD sergeant assigned to the department’s gun license bureau. He was charged with conspiracy to commit bribery. Villanueva and a uniformed officer named Richard Ochetal allegedly took money from Alex Lichtenstein in exchange for gun licenses.
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New York, NY – At an important ceremony at City Hall, Councilman David Greenfield presented Proclamations on behalf of the New York City Council to the four members of the Boro Park Shomrim Safety Patrol who were recently shot while confronting a known criminal.
On September 2nd, the Boro Park Shomrim Safety Patrol’s Abe Kaztow, Abraham “Motty” Brauner, Joel Klein and Motty Perl were shot while apprehending David Flores, a known criminal and suspected child predator who was driving in an area where 200 children had gathered for a celebration. The week before the shooting incident, Flores had allegedly preyed upon groups of children in two separate incidents.
“Every day, Shomrim members put themselves in the line of danger in order to secure our community,” said Councilman Greenfield. “This particular incident could have easily ended badly, we thank Hashem that no one was seriously injured.”
Councilman Greenfield continued, “Community members join the Shomrim because they want to help keep our streets safe. These are the people who are the eyes and ears of our community and they have proven themselves to be invaluable partners with the NYPD. Today’s proclamations are just a small token of New York’s gratitude for Shomrim’s service.”
Shomrim coordinator Simcha Bernath spoke on the group’s behalf and thanked Greenfield for coming to the hospital to show his support of the injured members and thanked all of the gathered elected officials for their incredible outpouring of support. Also present were coordinators Yanky Daskal, Mottie Katz, and Shaya Lichtenstein.
The Proclamation honored Kaztow, Brauner, Klein and Perl’s “outstanding service to the community” and was presented by Councilman Greenfield who was joined by many other grateful members of the City Council including Speaker Christine Quinn, as well as Councilmembers Brad Lander, Lew Fidler, Vincent Gentile, Sara Gonzalez, Letitia James, Karen Koslowitz, Mike Nelson, Domenic M. Recchia Jr., Peter Vallone Jr., Jumaane Williams, and Dan Halloran.
An NYPD officer tangled in the snare of a federal probe has been put on modified duty and stripped of his badge and gun, the Daily News has learned.
Michael Milici, a longtime community affairs detective in the 66th Precinct, was placed on restricted detail after he refused to answer questions from a grand jury, sources said Monday.
The trouble began when the feds launched a financial fraud inquiry within the NYPD. It grew out of an earlier probe by the FBI and the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s Office that involved fraud and possible money laundering, sources said.
Now investigators are also trying to determine if some NYPD officers accepted gifts from Jewish community leaders — including a Borough Park activist with close ties to city officials, sources told The News.
Some officers were suspected of doing favors for at least two prominent local businessmen — including providing police escorts for Jewish funerals.
The cops might have received gifts, like paid vacations, in return, sources said. Under NYPD rules, officers are not permitted to accept free meals, much less vacations.
A number of NYPD brass have been interviewed. Additionally, a former chief appears to be part of the investigation, as well as another retired NYPD supervisor with ties to the 66th Precinct.
Roy Richter, head of the Captains Endowment Association, said he knew of a federal investigation that focused on a member of the Orthodox community.
“A number of my members have been interviewed by federal investigators. All of them fully cooperated and were told they were not the targets or subjects of the investigation,” the union leader said.
The probe into illicit favor trading was sparked by a comment caught on a wiretap by a Jewish businessman, who was under investigation for something entirely different, sources said.
Sources said the feds suspect he gave gifts to cops and bought meals for at least some of them.
Milici’s lawyer said he and his client were in the dark about the feds’ investigation.
“He asserted the Fifth to the grand jury completely,” attorney Patrick Parrotta said of Milici.
“We don’t know exactly what their theory is … we don’t know what’s on their minds, he said.
Asked if his client had taken any gifts, Parrotta had an immediate adamant response.
“No, of course not,” he said.