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July 29, 2016
Nonetheless No Verdict In Seabrook’s Trial After Jury’s 5th Day Of Deliberation
Jurors in the bribery case against former Correction Officers Benevolent Association President Norman Seabrook accomplished their fifth day of deliberations without a verdict Nov. 15, however for the primary time centered on the testimony of the man who succeeded him as the top of the union, Elias Husamudeen.
Not lengthy after they started efforts to interrupt what they described a day earlier as a deadlock among them, they despatched a word to U.S. District Decide Andrew L. Carter Jr. requesting a transcript of Mr. Husamudeen’s testimony, as well as a copy of a Feb. 10, 2014 letter written by a lawyer for COBA, Howard Wien, concerning the board’s plan to invest $10 million of members’ annuity cash 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 funding, among them the fact that at the time, no different municipal union had placed investments with a hedge fund, which tends to offer probably increased returns but additionally comes with higher dangers.
Unaware of $5M Add-On
As the first witness in a trial that started Oct. 24, Mr. Husamudeen testified that he had by no means seen the letter. He additionally stated that after the annuity-fund board members agreed to an preliminary $10-million investment with Platinum Companions, he became conscious that Mr. Seabrook subsequently invested another $5 million with the firm, utilizing the union’s working account, only because COBA’s treasurer, Mike Maiello, was contacted by somebody 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 one response he got was, “It’s making money.”
Till Wednesday’s court docket session, jurors had appeared focused 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, nonetheless, 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 claim by Paul Shechtman was constant together with his technique from the very beginning of the case: to assault the credibility of Mr. Rechnitz, who was additionally implicated in a sequence of questionable ventures that included allegedly bribing two police commanders who are scheduled to go on trial subsequent yr and raising close to $200,000 to further Mayor de Blasio’s political interests in return for entry to him to realize favorable remedy in his dealings with the city.
No Protection 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 mens ferragamo polo to virtually everybody with whom he had enterprise dealings and deceiving mates and kin that they opted not to call any witnesses after prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s Office rested their case Nov. 6.
In addition to his dealings with high police commanders—the most-outstanding of whom, former Chief of Division Philip Banks III, was not criminally charged—and the Mayor, Mr. Rechnitz admitted being involved in two ventures that turned into Ponzi schemes. He also acknowledged mendacity to Mr. Seabrook about having as soon as owned two landmark buildings near COBA’s Broad St. headquarters and pretending that he owned a yacht he rented to go sailing with him. Mr. Shechtman known as him “a consummate con man” throughout his summation to the jury and described him as “a fella who can’t even inform the reality about his lies.”
Prosecutors emphasized to the jury in their closing statements that Mr. Rechnitz, who hoped to keep away from a jail sentence by means of his cooperation with the federal government after admitting to fraudulent activities that could earn him 20 years in Federal prison, had a few of his testimony regarding the $60,000 bribe to Mr. Seabrook in return for the union chief investing $20 million in COBA monies with Platinum Partners—the hedge fund run by Mr. Huberfeld—corroborated by other sources.
“If this were a morality contest, he wouldn’t be allowed to take part,” Assistant U.S. Legal professional Russell Capone told the jurors concerning his key witness in a summation following Mr. Shechtman’s scathing dissertation on Mr. Rechnitz’s character.
Cites COBA’s Considerations
However, he reminded them, they had heard testimony concerning a letter despatched by a union lawyer, Howard Wien, laying out a number of issues he had about investing money in a hedge fund—among them that no different union annuity fund had achieved so at the time in early 2014 when COBA was contemplating the proposal by Platinum Partners. He noted that Elias Husamudeen, who labored closely with Mr. Seabrook throughout the latter gentleman’s 21-yr tenure as COBA president and stepped into that job after the indictment that led the Correction Division to suspend the union leader, rendering him ineligible to stay in that position, had described Mr. Seabrook as being secretive throughout a lot of the investment course of.
Mr. Husamudeen because the leadoff witness in the trial had described finding out whereas on the Puerto Rican Day Parade that June that Mr. Seabrook—after the board accepted an initial $10-million investment in Platinum Partners—had subsequently invested $5 million from the union’s working account. That discovery, he told jurors, occurred only as a result of COBA Treasurer Mike Maiello got a call from the union’s bank informing him of the transaction.
Mr. Husamudeen recalled angrily confronting Mr. Seabrook, demanding, “What the [bleep] is your drawback,” and being advised in response, “It’s earning profits,” with no additional rationalization.
‘Why So Eager ’
Mr. Capone asked the jurors to think about, “Why was this union boss so eager, so reckless about this investment Why was he so secretive with different board members ”
Mr. Rechnitz had testified that throughout a brief vacation in the Dominican Republic in December 2013, where the two males had been additionally accompanied by Chief Banks, the COBA president whereas drinking heavily had acknowledged that it was “time that Norman Seabrook got paid.”
Lower than a week later, prosecutor Kan Nawaday reminded the jurors, Mr. Seabrook met with Mr. Huberfeld, and within two weeks a pitch was made by Platinum Partners for the union to invest an initial $10 million within the hedge fund.
On the time, prosecutors advised the jury, the firm was struggling, citing an e mail from its chief funding officer in mid-2013 stating that investors had been withdrawing significantly extra money from the fund than it was receiving in new capital and describing the situation as “code red.”
Returns Had been Lagging
Whereas Mr. Shechtman noted that Platinum Companions had been performing properly, with an 18-% annual rate of return in the decade before COBA made its investments, prosecutors famous that two of its weakest years had are available in 2012 and 2013, when the common 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 initially informed Mr. Seabrook that in return for the $20-million COBA funding, he might anticipate to receive $a hundred,000 from Mr. Huberfeld by the end of 2014. However when he met with the union leader 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 anticipating, Mr. Rechnitz advised the jury he responded that starting in 2015 he could be assured $a hundred,000 a yr as long as COBA maintained the investment, and that funds can be spread out on a month-to-month foundation.
In his summation, Mr. Shechtman pointed out that by the beginning of that year, Mr. Rechnitz’s phone was being wiretapped by the FBI, yet no conversations had been recorded through which Mr. Seabrook was asking about additional funds. And when he visited Mr. Huberfeld’s office to give him a $1,000 cash present for his first grandchild, the lawyer famous, he made no inquiries about why he had been shortchanged within the purported payoff.
Bag Filled with Cigars
The reason for the lack of damning evidence that emerged from those 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 full of cigars, displaying video of the witness leaving his office with the bag that raised questions as to whether it was giant enough to include $60,000 in money and be carried as loosely because it was.
He famous that Mr. Rechnitz advised jurors that when he gave Mr. Seabrook the bag, the union leader positioned it on the ground of his automobile on the driver’s side while they went to dinner. “You don’t put it in the glove compartment, you don’t put it in the trunk ” Mr. Shechtman requested, his voice rising to counsel that had it actually been a big money payment, his consumer would have been cautious not to depart it the place a passerby would possibly spot the costly designer bag.
“This story is unnecessary,” he told the jury. “This is just not a crime and this is not a criminal case that should have been brought on this courtroom.”
Following a break for lunch, Mr. Shechtman laid out another principle of the case through which a $60,000 fee was made, but to Mr. Rechnitz from Mr. Huberfeld as partial compensation for bringing the COBA funding to his agency. He cited a $60,000 verify Mr. Huberfeld made payable to Mr. Rechnitz’s business, JSR Capital, and three smaller checks written as charitable donations in Mr. Rechnitz’s identify that added as much as $39,600. He said they represented a fee equal to a half-p.c of the $20-million investment, which he called an inexpensive finder’s price on condition that Mr. Rechnitz was not an authorized placement agent who could have legally commanded the next charge.
Calls Ruse a Tax Dodge
As to an invoice for $60,000 for Knick tickets that Mr. Rechnitz had testified was really reimbursement to him for laying out the bribe cash to Mr. Seabrook, Mr. Shechtman instructed jurors that this was created as a technique to shield Mr. Huberfeld’s payment to Mr. Rechnitz from tax obligations.
By the time the summations began, the blistering cross-examination of Mr. Rechnitz had given jurors reasons to dislike him that went past the lies and thievery to which he confessed while balking at Mr. Shechtman’s declare that he “defrauded” someone he had stated was one in all his closest buddies, insisting that mendacity repeatedly was not the identical as fraud.
Mr. Rechnitz acknowledged that for a 2013 Purim social gathering, he made himself up in blackface, however denied understanding that this was insulting to African-People, who made up six or seven members mens ferragamo polo of the jury. When Mr. Shechtman asked him about an electronic mail during which he referred to an acquaintance as acting like “a schmuck,” then requested, “Is he schvartze ”, Mr. Rechnitz insisted that he was simply utilizing the Yiddish word for “black,” and had not meant it in a pejorative means.
Of their requests for exhibits over the primary two days of deliberations, the jurors focused heavily on Mr. Rechnitz, asking for your complete transcript of his testimony, while additionally in search of 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 other union officials apart from Mr. Seabrook who had been on the board of the COBA annuity fund.
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