Nonetheless No Verdict In Seabrook’s Trial After Jury’s fifth Day Of Deliberation
Jurors in the bribery case towards former Correction Officers Benevolent Association President Norman Seabrook accomplished their fifth day of deliberations without a verdict Nov. 15, but for the primary time focused on the testimony of the man who succeeded him as the pinnacle 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 despatched a notice to U.S. District Choose Andrew L. Carter Jr. requesting a transcript of Mr. Husamudeen’s testimony, as well as a duplicate of a Feb. 10, 2014 letter written by a lawyer for COBA, Howard Wien, concerning the board’s plan to take a position $10 million of members’ annuity cash in a hedge fund run by Mr. Seabrook’s co-defendant, Murray Huberfeld. Mr. Wien had outlined several considerations linked with such an funding, among them the fact that on the time, no other municipal union had placed investments with a hedge fund, which tends to offer doubtlessly higher returns but additionally comes with better risks.
Unaware of $5M Add-On
As the first witness in a trial that began Oct. 24, Mr. Husamudeen testified that he had by no means seen the letter. He also mentioned that after the annuity-fund board members agreed to an initial $10-million investment with Platinum Partners, he grew to become conscious that Mr. Seabrook subsequently invested one other $5 million with the firm, using the union’s working account, only because COBA’s treasurer, Mike Maiello, was contacted by somebody at its financial institution regarding the test.
Mr. Husamudeen said that when he confronted Mr. Seabrook about why he made that funding without consulting different union officials, the only response he acquired was, “It’s making money.”
Till Wednesday’s court 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, nonetheless, by robust 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 together with his technique from the very starting of the case: to attack the credibility of Mr. Rechnitz, who was also implicated in a series of questionable ventures that included allegedly bribing two police commanders who are scheduled to go on trial subsequent 12 months and raising near $200,000 to additional Mayor de Blasio’s political pursuits in return for access to him to achieve favorable remedy in his dealings with 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 lying to just about everybody with whom he had business dealings and deceiving friends and relatives that they opted not to name 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 Department Philip Banks III, was not criminally charged—and the Mayor, Mr. Rechnitz admitted being involved in two ventures that changed into Ponzi schemes. He additionally acknowledged lying 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 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 tell the truth about his lies.”
Prosecutors emphasized to the jury of their closing statements that Mr. Rechnitz, who hoped to keep away from 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 had been a morality contest, he wouldn’t be allowed to participate,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Russell Capone instructed the jurors concerning his key witness in a summation following Mr. Shechtman’s scathing dissertation on Mr. Rechnitz’s character.
Cites COBA’s Concerns
But, he reminded them, they’d heard testimony regarding a letter sent by a union lawyer, Howard Wien, laying out several considerations he had about investing money in a hedge fund—among them that no different union annuity fund had accomplished so at the time in early 2014 when COBA was considering the proposal by Platinum Companions. He noted that Elias Husamudeen, who labored closely with Mr. Seabrook through the latter gentleman’s 21-year 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 during a lot of the investment process.
Mr. Husamudeen because the leadoff witness in the trial had described finding out while on the Puerto Rican Day Parade that June that Mr. Seabrook—after the board authorised an preliminary $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 acquired 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 problem,” and being told in response, “It’s earning money,” with no additional explanation.
‘Why So Eager ’
Mr. Capone asked the jurors to think about, “Why was this union boss so keen, so reckless about this investment Why was he so secretive with other board members ”
Mr. Rechnitz had testified that during a brief trip within the Dominican Republic in December 2013, the place the two men have been additionally accompanied by Chief Banks, the COBA president whereas drinking closely had stated that it was “time that Norman Seabrook got paid.”
Less than per 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 speculate an initial $10 million in the hedge fund.
At the time, prosecutors advised the jury, the agency was struggling, citing an e-mail from its chief investment officer in mid-2013 stating that investors have been withdrawing significantly more cash from the fund than it was receiving in new capital and describing the scenario as “code pink.”
Returns Have been Lagging
Whereas Mr. Shechtman noted that Platinum Companions had been performing nicely, with an 18-percent annual price of return within the decade earlier than COBA made its investments, prosecutors famous that two of its weakest years had are available 2012 and 2013, when the common return was 9.5 p.c. The fund last 12 months filed for bankruptcy safety, and last December its remaining principals, after Mr. Huberfeld was criminally charged, were indicted for allegedly operating it like a Ponzi scheme.
Mr. Rechnitz testified that he initially informed Mr. Seabrook that in return for the $20-million COBA investment, he might count on to receive $one hundred,000 from Mr. Huberfeld by the end of 2014. However when he met with the union chief on Dec. 11 that 12 months, he stated he gave him a Ferragamo bag containing simply $60,000. When Mr. Seabrook complained that it was less than he had been anticipating, Mr. Rechnitz told the jury he responded that beginning in 2015 he could be guaranteed $100,000 a 12 months as long as COBA maintained the funding, and that payments would be spread out on a monthly foundation.
In his summation, Mr. Shechtman identified that by the start of that yr, Mr. Rechnitz’s telephone was being wiretapped by the FBI, but no conversations were recorded wherein Mr. Seabrook was asking about additional payments. And when he visited Mr. Huberfeld’s office to provide him a $1,000 cash reward 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 explanation for the lack of damning proof that emerged from those conversations, Mr. Shechtman argued, was that there hadn’t really 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 workplace with the bag that raised questions as to whether it was giant sufficient to include $60,000 in cash and be carried as loosely as it was.
He famous that Mr. Rechnitz informed jurors that when he gave Mr. Seabrook the bag, the union chief positioned it on the ground of his vehicle 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 suggest that had it actually been a large money payment, his shopper would have been careful not to go away it where a passerby would possibly spot the expensive designer bag.
“This story is senseless,” he advised the jury. “This will not be against the law and this isn’t a criminal case that ought to have been brought on this courtroom.”
Following a break for lunch, Mr. Shechtman laid out an alternate principle of the case wherein a $60,000 payment was made, however to Mr. Rechnitz from Mr. Huberfeld as partial compensation for bringing the COBA investment to his agency. He cited a $60,000 examine 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 up to $39,600. He mentioned they represented a cost equal to a half-% of the $20-million investment, which he referred to as a reasonable finder’s charge provided that Mr. Rechnitz was not an authorized placement agent who may have legally commanded the next payment.
Calls Ruse a Tax Dodge
As to an invoice for $60,000 for Knick tickets that Mr. Rechnitz had testified was actually reimbursement to him for laying out the bribe money to Mr. Seabrook, Mr. salvatore ferragamo hotel tuscany Shechtman informed jurors that this was created as a solution 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 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” somebody he had mentioned was one in all his closest mates, insisting that lying repeatedly was not the same as fraud.
Mr. Rechnitz acknowledged that for a 2013 Purim party, he made himself up in blackface, however denied knowing that this was insulting to African-Individuals, 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 performing like “a schmuck,” then asked, “Is he schvartze ”, Mr. Rechnitz insisted that he was simply using the Yiddish phrase for “black,” and had not meant it in a pejorative method.
In their salvatore ferragamo hotel tuscany requests for exhibits over the first two days of deliberations, the jurors focused heavily on Mr. Rechnitz, asking for the complete transcript of his testimony, whereas also looking for emails involving Platinum Partners 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 different union officials apart from Mr. Seabrook who were on the board of the COBA annuity fund.
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