NEW YORK (Reuters) – The federal corruption trial of Norman Seabrook, the former head of recent York City’s correction officers union, and Murray Huberfeld, a co-founder of defunct hedge fund Platinum Companions, came to a close on Tuesday, with arguments focusing on the credibility of prosecutors’ star witness.
That witness, Jona Rechnitz, had informed jurors in Manhattan federal courtroom that he handed $60,000 in cash stuffed in a Salvatore Ferragamo bag to Seabrook, who as soon as led the Correction Officers Benevolent Affiliation.
Rechnitz said the December 2014 payment was part of a bribery scheme through which Seabrook steered $20 million of union funds into Platinum, while Huberfeld had Platinum reimburse Rechnitz. Seabrook and Huberfeld are charged with conspiracy and fraud.
Rechnitz, a former actual estate government and one-time fundraiser for new York Metropolis Mayor Invoice de Blasio, has pleaded responsible to a corruption cost, and is cooperating with prosecutors.
Assistant U.S. Lawyer Kan Nawaday conceded that Rechnitz, by his own admission, had not been reliable prior to now.
“He is a criminal, and he’s completed horrible issues,” he mentioned.
Nonetheless, Nawaday said, Rechnitz’s testimony match with different proof, together with travel records, tens of thousands of dollars in money found in Seabrook’s residence, and the Ferragamo bag itself, on display in the courtroom.
Seabrook’s lawyer, Paul Shechtman, started his argument with a litany of Rechnitz’s admitted misdeeds, which included searching for a position as police chaplain in Westchester County only in order to achieve authorities privileges and falsifying a gun permit software.
He stated Rechnitz was lying to avoid wasting himself, and that without his testimony, the remainder of the evidence was not sufficient to convict Seabrook.
“Jona is the government’s one real witness in this case,” Shechtman said.
Henry Mazurek, Huberfeld’s lawyer, equally targeted on Rechnitz.
“You can’t convict an innocent man on the premise of that man’s phrase,” Mazurek mentioned of Rechnitz.
Rechnitz’s most explosive testimony during the trial was not about Seabrook or Huberfeld, however about de Blasio. He told jurors that he routinely called de Blasio on his private telephone to ask for favors and that he obtained “results.”
De Blasio spokesman Eric Phillips on the time dismissed Rechnitz’s testimony as “reheated, repackaged accusations” and noted that state and federal prosecutors closed an investigation into de Blasio’s fundraising practices in March with out bringing any costs.
U.S. District Choose Andrew Carter is expected to instruct the jury on Wednesday. The jurors will then start deliberating.