Still 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 with no verdict Nov. 15, however for the first time targeted on the testimony of the man who succeeded him as the top of the union, Elias Husamudeen.
Not long after they started efforts to break what they described a day earlier as a deadlock among them, they despatched a be aware to U.S. District Decide Andrew L. Carter Jr. requesting a transcript of Mr. Husamudeen’s testimony, in addition to a replica of a Feb. 10, 2014 letter written by a lawyer for COBA, Howard Wien, regarding the board’s plan to speculate $10 million of members’ annuity cash in a hedge fund run by Mr. Seabrook’s co-defendant, Murray Huberfeld. Mr. Wien had outlined several issues linked with such an funding, amongst them the truth that on the time, no other municipal union had positioned investments with a hedge fund, which tends to offer doubtlessly higher returns but also comes with higher risks.
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 also stated that after the annuity-fund board members agreed to an preliminary $10-million investment with Platinum Companions, he grew to become conscious that Mr. Seabrook subsequently invested one other $5 million with the agency, using the union’s working account, only as a result of COBA’s treasurer, Mike Maiello, was contacted by somebody at its financial institution regarding the verify.
Mr. Husamudeen said that when he confronted Mr. Seabrook about why he made that funding without consulting other union officials, the only response he got was, “It’s creating wealth.”
Until Wednesday’s court docket session, jurors had seemed centered totally on the government’s key witness, Jona Rechnitz, who had testified that he delivered $60,000 in cash to Mr. Seabrook on behalf of Mr. Huberfeld in December 2014. Mr. Rechnitz’s credibility had been badly damaged, however, by powerful cross-examination by Mr. Seabrook’s attorney—who in his summation to the jury Nov. 7 questioned whether the $60,000 bribe had even taken place.
That declare by Paul Shechtman was consistent with his strategy from the very starting of the case: to attack the credibility of Mr. Rechnitz, who was also implicated in a sequence of questionable ventures that included allegedly bribing two police commanders who’re 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 entry to him to achieve favorable treatment in his dealings with the town.
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 mendacity to virtually everyone with whom he had enterprise dealings and deceiving mates and family members 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 high 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 become Ponzi schemes. He additionally acknowledged mendacity to Mr. Seabrook about having once 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 known as him “a consummate con man” throughout his summation to the jury and described him as “a fella who can’t even tell the truth about his lies.”
Prosecutors emphasized to the jury of their closing statements that Mr. Rechnitz, who was hoping to avoid a jail sentence through his cooperation with the government after admitting to fraudulent activities that would 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 different sources.
“If this were a morality contest, he wouldn’t be allowed to participate,” Assistant U.S. Legal professional Russell Capone told the jurors regarding his key witness in ferragamo bermuda usa a summation following Mr. Shechtman’s scathing dissertation on Mr. Rechnitz’s character.
Cites COBA’s Issues
But, he reminded them, they had heard testimony concerning a letter despatched by a union lawyer, Howard Wien, laying out a number of considerations 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 considering the proposal by Platinum Companions. He noted that Elias Husamudeen, who labored carefully with Mr. Seabrook in the course of the latter gentleman’s 21-yr 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 stay in that place, had described Mr. Seabrook as being secretive throughout much of the investment course of.
Mr. Husamudeen as the leadoff witness within the trial had described finding out whereas at the Puerto Rican Day Parade that June that Mr. Seabrook—after the board accepted an initial $10-million funding in Platinum Partners—had subsequently invested $5 million from the union’s operating account. That discovery, he instructed jurors, occurred solely as a result of COBA Treasurer Mike Maiello received 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 downside,” and being told in response, “It’s creating wealth,” with no further clarification.
‘Why So Keen ’
Mr. Capone requested the jurors to contemplate, “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 short vacation in the Dominican Republic in December 2013, where the 2 males had been also accompanied by Chief Banks, the COBA president while drinking heavily had said that it was “time that Norman Seabrook obtained paid.”
Lower than every week later, prosecutor Kan Nawaday reminded the jurors, Mr. Seabrook met with Mr. Huberfeld, and inside two weeks a pitch was made by Platinum Partners for the union to invest an preliminary $10 million in the hedge fund.
At the time, prosecutors told the jury, the agency was struggling, citing an electronic mail from its chief investment officer in mid-2013 stating that investors had been withdrawing considerably more cash from the fund than it was receiving in new capital and describing the scenario as “code purple.”
Returns Have been Lagging
While 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 noted that two of its weakest years had are available 2012 and 2013, when the typical return was 9.5 percent. The fund last 12 months filed for bankruptcy safety, and final December its remaining principals, after Mr. Huberfeld was criminally charged, have been 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 funding, he might count on to receive $one hundred,000 from Mr. Huberfeld by the end of 2014. However when he met with the union leader on Dec. Eleven that 12 months, he said he gave him a Ferragamo bag containing just $60,000. When Mr. Seabrook complained that it was less than he had been anticipating, Mr. Rechnitz advised the jury he responded that starting in 2015 he could be guaranteed $100,000 a 12 months so long as COBA maintained the investment, and that payments could be unfold out on a monthly foundation.
In his summation, Mr. Shechtman pointed out that by the start of that year, Mr. Rechnitz’s telephone was being wiretapped by the FBI, but no conversations were recorded in which Mr. Seabrook was asking about further funds. And when he visited Mr. Huberfeld’s workplace to give him a $1,000 cash present for his first grandchild, the lawyer noted, 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 actually been a bribe. He claimed that the Ferragamo bag Mr. Rechnitz testified had contained the payoff was really stuffed with cigars, displaying video of the witness leaving his workplace with the bag that raised questions as to whether it was large sufficient to contain $60,000 in money and be carried as loosely because it was.
He noted that Mr. Rechnitz instructed jurors that when he gave Mr. Seabrook the bag, the union leader placed it on the flooring of his automobile on the driver’s aspect while they went to dinner. “You don’t put it in the glove compartment, you don’t put it within the trunk ” Mr. Shechtman asked, his voice rising to counsel that had it actually been a large money cost, his consumer would have been careful not to depart it where a passerby would possibly spot the costly designer bag.
“This story makes no sense,” he informed the jury. “This is not a crime and this is not a criminal case that ought to have been brought on this courtroom.”
Following a break for lunch, Mr. Shechtman laid out an alternative 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 funding to his firm. He cited a $60,000 examine Mr. Huberfeld made payable to Mr. Rechnitz’s enterprise, JSR Capital, and three smaller checks written as charitable donations in Mr. Rechnitz’s title that added as much as $39,600. He stated they represented a payment equal to a half-p.c of the $20-million investment, which he called an affordable finder’s payment given that Mr. Rechnitz was not an authorized placement agent who might have legally commanded a higher payment.
Calls Ruse a Tax Dodge
As to an bill 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 option to shield Mr. Huberfeld’s cost to Mr. Rechnitz from tax obligations.
By the time the summations started, the blistering cross-examination of Mr. Rechnitz had given jurors causes to dislike him that went past the lies and thievery to which he confessed whereas balking at Mr. Shechtman’s claim that he “defrauded” someone he had stated was one in every of his closest associates, insisting that lying repeatedly was not the same as fraud.
Mr. Rechnitz acknowledged that for a 2013 Purim social gathering, he made himself up in blackface, but denied figuring out that this was insulting to African-People, who made up six or seven members of the jury. When Mr. Shechtman asked him about an ferragamo bermuda usa electronic mail during which he referred to an acquaintance as performing like “a schmuck,” then asked, “Is he schvartze ”, Mr. Rechnitz insisted that he was just utilizing the Yiddish phrase for “black,” and had not meant it in a pejorative method.
In their requests for exhibits over the primary two days of deliberations, the jurors targeted 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. Not one of the requests involved testimony given by Mr. Husamudeen and the 2 other union officials apart from Mr. Seabrook who had been on the board of the COBA annuity fund.
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