Monday, April 11, 2016

FBI probe finds NYPD traded services for Super Bowl tickets, luxe trips

 Rechnitz, Banks & Reichberg
 UPDATE: NY Times   Jona S. Rechnitz, the scion of a wealthy Los Angeles family, came to New York City about a decade ago to make his mark in real estate and philanthropy. A brash young man eager to fund philanthropic causes, he cultivated connections with the Police Department — posing with top officials, and once arranging for police bagpipes at a party — and became a fixture at fund-raising events for Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Jeremiah Reichberg came from the more cloistered world of Borough Park, Brooklyn, an Orthodox Jewish enclave where he was a familiar presence, even if his private life and business dealings were not well known. He ran a consulting firm, and hosted Mr. de Blasio to great fanfare at his home in 2014 for a fund-raising event.

Mr. Rechnitz and Mr. Reichberg became close, appearing together at public and private events, and serving on Mr. de Blasio’s inauguration committee — an honor bestowed on the famous, like the writer Junot Díaz and the actor Steve Buscemi, and on lavish givers. In recent weeks, they have become the fulcrum of a sprawling federal corruption investigation into the mayor’s fund-raising activities and the actions of police commanders.

The federal inquiry, which began in 2013, has laid bare the city’s nexus of political influence and campaign donations, dormant for a decade during the administration of the billionaire Michael R. Bloomberg, as well as the world of those men, like Mr. Rechnitz and Mr. Reichberg, who sidle up to police officials as a kind of informal currency. The two men — neither of whom has been charged with a crime — appeared to take great pride in the closeness with which they spoke to senior commanders, including Philip Banks III, formerly the third-highest ranking chief, who has come under scrutiny as part of the federal inquiry.

So far, four top police officials have been censured, and the inquiry has derailed what had been a high point for the mayor after the passage of his affordable housing plan last month.

On Monday, Mr. de Blasio faced repeated questions over his connections to Mr. Rechnitz and Mr. Reichberg and what they might have gained from funneling tens of thousands of dollars into the mayor’s advocacy efforts and campaign coffers. He said it would be the last time he answered questions about the men. [...]

NY Post  The gifts were lavish — Super Bowl tickets and vacations to China and London.

The favors were troubling — using NYPD cops to provide security for private cash and jewelry deliveries and police escorts for funerals and airport trips to transfer bodies to Israel.

New details emerged Tuesday in the FBI’s corruption investigation into the police department, including how deep-pocketed businessmen who were the original targets of the probe sought out high-ranking members who they knew could “get things done for them,” sources told The Post.

“They don’t go to police officers or detectives. They’re too far down the food chain,’’ a law enforcement source said of the politically connected businessmen.

“They go straight to the top: the [commanding officer], lieutenants and other top officials at the precinct,” the source added. “They get things done for them. All they need to do is make a call.”

The favors ranged from getting police escorts for their own business deliveries, to crowd control during Hasidic weddings, and even receiving special security when Torahs are moved, according to sources. [...]

The suspected corruption surfaced during a separate financial investigation into Mayor Bill de Blasio cronies Jona Rechnitz, an Upper West Side real estate powerhouse, and Jeremy Reichberg, a prominent figure in Borough Park, Brooklyn, the sources said.

Wiretaps on the two men raised red flags because there were so many phone calls to and from cops, sources said.

“When it’s replayed, it might not sound good,’’ a source said of the wiretaps, explaining that they involve one of the businessmen making requests and the cops saying they’ll take care of it, although it’s unclear if any criminal conduct occurred.[...]

Ben Brafman, Banks’ lawyer, said Tuesday, “It does not appear that Mr. Banks, either while employed by the New York City Police Department or after he retired, was involved in any intentional criminal conduct.”[...]


  1. Two rich "machers", one a Modern Orthodox Manhattan dweller and the other a Chareidi Brooklyn dweller, who wanted photo-ops and bragging rights to being "best friends" with top police brass in the NYPD. The extent of the "favors" they got were hanging out with them and calling them to give extra police protection at hachnossos sefer Torahs, when an admor visited, or when they were transporting stuff from the airport.

  2. to crowd control during Hasidic weddings, and even receiving special security when Torahs are moved, according to sources.

    I'll probably be jumped upon for this, but I actually do not thing the businessmen were wrong about this. (Don't know what else they did.) The NYPD should be providing proper protection and crowd control when there are large, legal and peaceful public gatherings by any group of NYC residents. If the only way to ensure proper NYPD protection was through giving some gifts, then, what else were they expected to do? Should they allow more Yankel Rosenbaum situations? Or the preventable accident leading up to it? Or the Meshulach situation from last week in the subway? In life and death situations, you do what you can to save lives.

    There have unfortunately been fatal accidents at "Torah moving" ceremonies. There have unfortunately been fatal accidents when there is a procession of cars without proper police supervision, protection and direction. Gifts for illegal activities would an entirely different thing.

  3. Not sure exactly what the Limud is from this story. Rich people offer bribes all the time as a means to get what they want. That's not much of an issue. They weren't looking to cover up any illegal or criminal activity, rather the bribes were to get extra privileges and special treatment. It's the police who fell prey to greed and allegedly violated their internal regulations. Total non story. The fact it made it to the NY Post only magnifies how potentially corrupt the NYPD may be, not much noteworthy of the two wealthy Yidden who wanted favors. If there's a מוסר השכל here, someone please enlighten me.

  4. These supposed "favors" are very small potatoes.

  5. Consider yourself enlightened.

  6. I don't understand your point. If it's a 'small' amount of corruption, is that acceptable?

    If cops - with all the power they wield in our society - can do 'small potatoes' things, why can't we assume that big potatoes will follow?

  7. I'm not going to jump you, but I'm a bit uncomfortable with your laissez-faire attitude about communities 'needing' to pay for proper police protection.

    I don't think a quid pro quo is at all appropriate. Good relationships with police officials is one thing, but if you can't educate cops about the need for proper levels of enforcement without shmearing them, then we are all in trouble.

  8. The "favors" seem to be stuff like providing extra police protection at hachnossos Sefer Torahs and at major chasunahs and the like. Extra police protection doesn't rise to the level of typical prosecutions.

  9. I'm not seeing your point, Moe.

    The NYPD has already gone on record as having disciplined four high ranking officials, two of them by stripping them of their guns and badges.

    But more importantly, I think you said on this thread that this is somehow related to a bigger corruption issue surrounding the mayor. I wouldn't run to downplay the seriousness of what these officers may have done. I'm sure there's more coming down the pike. The Feds don't wake NYPD chiefs up at 5 in the morning to watch the sun come up over Coney Island.

  10. Are there 'legal' gratuities?

    Was it on company time?

    Did they use their private car?

    (NY police must have their guns with them at all times; unofficially, they are allowed to keep them at home when they go bar hopping, which NY police have a tendency to do pretty often.)

  11. Their right. Boro park is a chassidishe town. Litvaks not allowed.

    Chassidim are now taking over lakewood.

    Daas Torah's brother told me he is the only litvak left in his neighborhood in monsey, or most of monsey, for that matter.

    Sign me MO hungarian 'grew up in old boro park'.

    He said half in jest.

  12. Thanks. If the NY Daily News article is accurate then there's more to this story and a possibility of a major Chillul Hashem here. (Disclaimer: the NY Daily News has a long standing reputation of far leftist ideologies and views, including but not limited to - racism, discrimination, and antisemitism. That is well documented. So there's a high probability of biased opinions in their reporting.) I was commenting on the NY Post article that was originally posted on this blog.

  13. 1) Not for public officials (in NYS and many other localities)

    2) , 3) and 4) I don't know, and I don't know how it's relevant. If this was only about violating department policy, the last thing the police commissioner needed to do was publicly flog high ranking Chiefs. The embarrassment factor to the agency alone was unnecessary; it's fair to say he needed to act fast and that there's more bad news to come.

    5) If that is the going retainer rate, that NYPD bigwig is sure lucky to be able to hire Brafman, even on his retirement pension. Then again, more news today indicates that bigwig may have pocketed up to 500g, courtesy of his good friend, Rechnitz. That already points to a good reason for your 'why'.

  14. he reported a $250,000 income on his financial disclosure forms whilestill employed on a rechnitz affiliated real estate investment.

  15. Small or not, nobody can pay the police for extra protection. As tax payers, we have the right to ask and hopefully receive extra police services (protecting private events, for example), but paying for it is against the law.

    For those who want extra services the public police can't provide, there are private security companies.

  16. My point exactly. Small potatoes.

  17. De Blasio owes all NYC citizens good police protection, whether or not he or his people are paid off.

  18. But it might be the tip of a huge iceberg. Big or small, a crime is a crime.

  19. True. But once we realize the reality that the Sanitation Dept chose Boro Park as a place to not plow the snow and keep it locked down for 3+ days; once a child has unfortunately died at a Torah moving cerwmnony (hachnasas sefer Torah); once there have been fatal accident at a procession of cars which did not have police protection and direction, a sensible person will go out and buy friendship to ensure adequate protection is provided.

  20. Have gun will travel, and they shoot real bullets, not small potatoes. Time to call the mashtik kol, array of stom piyot, the machers and the hush hushers. Blackmail anyone that dares to disclose the Emperor has no clothes. You haven't seen anything yet, much more to come.


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