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July 28, 2016
Nonetheless No Verdict In Seabrook’s Trial After Jury’s 5th Day Of Deliberation
Jurors within the bribery case against former Correction Officers Benevolent Association President Norman Seabrook completed their fifth day of deliberations with no verdict Nov. 15, but for the first time focused on the testimony of the man who succeeded him as the top of the union, Elias Husamudeen.
Not long after they started efforts to interrupt what they described a day earlier as a deadlock amongst them, they sent a notice to U.S. District Choose Andrew L. Carter Jr. requesting a transcript of Mr. Husamudeen’s testimony, in addition to a copy of a Feb. 10, 2014 letter written by a lawyer for COBA, Howard Wien, regarding the board’s plan to invest $10 million of members’ annuity money in a hedge fund run by Mr. Seabrook’s co-defendant, Murray Huberfeld. Mr. Wien had outlined a number of concerns connected with such an investment, amongst them the fact that at the time, no different municipal union had placed investments with a hedge fund, which tends to offer doubtlessly higher returns but additionally comes with greater dangers.
Unaware of $5M Add-On
As the first witness in a trial that started Oct. 24, Mr. Husamudeen testified that he had never seen the letter. He additionally stated that after the annuity-fund board members agreed to an preliminary $10-million investment with Platinum Partners, he became conscious that Mr. Seabrook subsequently invested one other $5 million with the agency, using the union’s working account, solely as a result of COBA’s treasurer, Mike Maiello, was contacted by someone at its financial institution regarding the examine.
Mr. Husamudeen stated that when he confronted Mr. Seabrook about why he made that funding with out consulting different union officials, the only response he acquired was, “It’s earning profits.”
Until Wednesday’s courtroom session, jurors had appeared targeted totally on the government’s key witness, Jona Rechnitz, who had testified that he delivered $60,000 in money to Mr. Seabrook on behalf of Mr. Huberfeld in December 2014. Mr. Rechnitz’s credibility had been badly broken, nevertheless, by powerful cross-examination by Mr. Seabrook’s attorney—who in his summation to the jury Nov. 7 questioned whether or not the $60,000 bribe had even taken place.
That declare by Paul Shechtman was constant with his strategy from the very starting of the case: to attack the credibility of Mr. Rechnitz, who was also implicated in a collection of questionable ventures that included allegedly bribing two police commanders who are scheduled to go on trial next 12 months and raising close to $200,000 to additional Mayor de Blasio’s political pursuits in return for access to him to achieve favorable remedy in his dealings with the city.
No Defense Witnesses
It was a measure of the success that Mr. Shechtman and Henry Mazurek, the lawyer for Mr. Seabrook’s co-defendant, Murray Huberfeld, had in exposing Mr. Rechnitz’s proclivity for lying to nearly everyone with whom he had business dealings and deceiving associates and kin that they opted not to call any witnesses after prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s Workplace rested their case Nov. 6.
Apart from his dealings with top police commanders—the most-distinguished of whom, former Chief of Division Philip Banks III, was not criminally charged—and the Mayor, Mr. Rechnitz admitted being concerned in two ventures that turned into Ponzi schemes. He additionally acknowledged mendacity to Mr. Seabrook about having as soon as owned two landmark buildings close to COBA’s Broad St. headquarters and pretending that he owned a yacht he rented to go crusing with him. Mr. Shechtman referred to as him “a consummate con man” during his summation to the jury and described him as “a fella who can’t even tell the reality about his lies.”
Prosecutors emphasised to the jury of their closing statements that Mr. Rechnitz, who was hoping to avoid a jail sentence by means of his cooperation with the federal government after admitting to fraudulent actions that could earn him 20 years in Federal prison, had some of his testimony concerning the $60,000 bribe to Mr. Seabrook in return for the union leader investing $20 million in COBA monies with Platinum Partners—the hedge fund run by Mr. Huberfeld—corroborated by different sources.
“If this had been a morality contest, he wouldn’t be allowed to take part,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Russell Capone instructed the jurors relating to his key witness in a summation following Mr. Shechtman’s scathing dissertation on Mr. Rechnitz’s character.
Cites COBA’s Considerations
But, he reminded them, they’d heard testimony regarding a letter despatched by a union lawyer, Howard Wien, laying out several concerns he had about investing cash in a hedge fund—among them that no different union annuity fund had carried out so on the time in early 2014 when COBA was contemplating the proposal by Platinum Companions. He famous that Elias Husamudeen, who worked carefully with Mr. Seabrook throughout the latter gentleman’s 21-year tenure as COBA president and stepped into that job after the indictment that led the Correction Department to suspend the union chief, rendering him ineligible to remain in that place, had described Mr. Seabrook as being secretive during much of the investment process.
Mr. Husamudeen because the leadoff witness within the trial had described discovering out whereas on the Puerto Rican Day Parade that June that Mr. Seabrook—after the board accredited an preliminary $10-million investment in Platinum Partners—had subsequently invested $5 million from the union’s operating account. That discovery, he advised jurors, occurred solely as a result of COBA Treasurer Mike Maiello bought a name from the union’s bank informing him of the transaction.
Mr. Husamudeen recalled angrily confronting Mr. Seabrook, demanding, “What the [bleep] is your downside,” and being instructed in response, “It’s making a living,” with no further explanation.
‘Why So Eager ’
Mr. Capone asked the jurors to think about, “Why was this union boss so keen, so reckless about this funding Why was he so secretive with different board members ”
Mr. Rechnitz had testified that during a quick vacation in the Dominican Republic in December 2013, the place the 2 males were also accompanied by Chief Banks, the COBA president whereas drinking heavily had acknowledged that it was “time that Norman Seabrook received paid.”
Less than a week later, prosecutor Kan Nawaday reminded the jurors, Mr. Seabrook met with Mr. Huberfeld, and inside two weeks a pitch was made by Platinum Companions for the union to speculate an preliminary $10 million within the hedge fund.
At the time, prosecutors informed the jury, the firm was struggling, citing an e mail from its chief investment officer in mid-2013 stating that investors had been withdrawing considerably extra money from the fund than it was receiving in new capital and describing the scenario as “code red.”
Returns Have been Lagging
While Mr. Shechtman noted that Platinum Partners had been performing properly, with an 18-p.c annual charge of return within the decade before COBA made its investments, prosecutors noted that two of its weakest years had come in 2012 and 2013, when the average return was 9.5 percent. The fund last yr filed for bankruptcy safety, and last December its remaining principals, after Mr. Huberfeld was criminally charged, were indicted for allegedly running it like a Ponzi scheme.
Mr. Rechnitz testified that he originally instructed Mr. Seabrook that in return for the $20-million COBA investment, he might count on to obtain $one hundred,000 from Mr. Huberfeld by the end of 2014. But when he met with the union chief on Dec. Eleven that year, he said he gave him a Ferragamo bag containing just $60,000. When Mr. Seabrook complained that it was lower than he had been expecting, Mr. Rechnitz instructed the jury he responded that beginning in 2015 he would be assured $100,000 a year as long as COBA maintained the funding, and that funds would be unfold out on a month-to-month basis.
In his summation, Mr. Shechtman pointed out that by the start of that yr, Mr. Rechnitz’s phone was being wiretapped by the FBI, but no conversations had been recorded wherein Mr. Seabrook was asking about additional payments. And when he visited Mr. Huberfeld’s office to give him a $1,000 money gift for his first grandchild, the lawyer famous, he made no inquiries about why he had been shortchanged in the purported payoff.
Bag Filled with Cigars
The rationale for the lack of damning proof that emerged from these conversations, Mr. Shechtman argued, was that there hadn’t truly been a bribe. He claimed that the Ferragamo bag Mr. Rechnitz testified had contained the payoff was really filled with cigars, displaying video of the witness leaving his office with the bag that raised questions as to whether it was large enough to contain $60,000 in cash and be carried as loosely as it was.
He noted that Mr. Rechnitz advised jurors that when he gave Mr. Seabrook the bag, the union leader placed it on the floor of his vehicle on the driver’s aspect whereas they went to dinner. “You don’t put it within the glove compartment, you don’t put it within the trunk ” Mr. Shechtman asked, his voice rising to suggest that had it really been a large cash cost, his shopper would have been cautious not to leave it where a passerby would possibly spot the expensive designer bag.
“This story is senseless,” he told the jury. “This is not against the law and this is not a criminal case that should have been brought on this courtroom.”
Following a break for lunch, Mr. Shechtman laid out an alternate theory of the case during which a $60,000 cost was made, however to Mr. Rechnitz from Mr. Huberfeld as partial compensation for bringing the COBA investment to his firm. He cited a $60,000 test Mr. Huberfeld made payable to Mr. Rechnitz’s business, JSR Capital, and three smaller checks written as charitable donations in Mr. Rechnitz’s name that added up to $39,600. He stated they represented a cost equal to a half-% of the $20-million investment, which he referred to as an affordable finder’s fee provided that Mr. Rechnitz was not an authorized placement agent who could have legally commanded a higher payment.
Calls Ruse a Tax Dodge
As to an invoice for $60,000 for Knick tickets that Mr. Rechnitz had testified was truly reimbursement to him for laying out the bribe money to Mr. Seabrook, ferragamo sale womens Mr. Shechtman advised jurors that this was created as a method to shield Mr. Huberfeld’s payment to Mr. Rechnitz from tax obligations.
By the point the summations started, the blistering cross-examination of Mr. Rechnitz had given jurors reasons to dislike him that went beyond the lies and thievery to which he confessed whereas balking at Mr. Shechtman’s claim that he “defrauded” somebody he had stated was one of his closest pals, insisting that lying repeatedly was not the identical as fraud.
Mr. Rechnitz acknowledged that for a 2013 Purim celebration, he made himself up in blackface, however denied figuring out that this was insulting to African-People, who made up six or seven members of the jury. When Mr. Shechtman requested him about an e mail during which he referred to an acquaintance as appearing like “a schmuck,” then requested, “Is he schvartze ”, Mr. Rechnitz insisted that he was just using the Yiddish phrase for “black,” and had not meant it in a pejorative way.
In their requests for exhibits over the primary two days of deliberations, the jurors centered closely on Mr. Rechnitz, asking for the entire transcript of his testimony, while also seeking emails involving Platinum Companions and its communications with COBA and wiretapped recordings of conversations the prime witness had. None of the requests involved testimony given by Mr. Husamudeen and the two different union officials moreover Mr. Seabrook who had been on the board of the COBA annuity fund.
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