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Trial Of Ex-NYC Union Head, Platinum Partners Co-founder Winds Down

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The federal corruption trial of Norman Seabrook, the former head of new York City’s correction officers’ union, and Murray Huberfeld, a co-founder of defunct hedge fund Platinum Partners, came to a detailed on Tuesday, with arguments focusing on the credibility of prosecutors’ star witness.

That witness, Jona Rechnitz, had informed jurors in Manhattan federal court that he handed $60,000 in money stuffed in a Salvatore Ferragamo bag to Seabrook, who once led the Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association.

Rechnitz said the December 2014 fee was a part of a bribery scheme in 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 property executive and one-time fundraiser for new York Metropolis Mayor Bill de Blasio, has pleaded responsible to a corruption charge, and is cooperating with prosecutors.

Assistant U.S. Lawyer Kan Nawaday conceded that Rechnitz, by his personal admission, had not been trustworthy prior to now.

“He’s a criminal, and he’s completed horrible things,” he said.
Nevertheless, Nawaday stated, Rechnitz’s testimony match with other evidence, together with travel information, tens of hundreds of dollars in money present in Seabrook’s home, and the Ferragamo bag itself, on display in the salvatore ferragamo iphone 5 case courtroom.

Seabrook’s lawyer, Paul Shechtman, started his argument with a litany of Rechnitz’s admitted misdeeds, which included looking for a position as police chaplain in Westchester County solely in order to gain government privileges and falsifying a gun permit application.

He said Rechnitz was mendacity to avoid wasting himself, and that without his testimony, the rest of the proof was not sufficient to convict Seabrook.

“Jona is the government’s one actual witness in this case,” Shechtman said.
Henry Mazurek, Huberfeld’s lawyer, similarly targeted on Rechnitz.

“You can’t convict an innocent man on the premise of that man’s phrase,” Mazurek said of Rechnitz.
Rechnitz’s most explosive testimony throughout the trial was not about Seabrook or Huberfeld, but about de Blasio. He instructed jurors that he routinely called de Blasio on his private cellphone 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 without bringing any prices.

U.S. District Judge Andrew Carter is expected to instruct the jury on Wednesday. The jurors will then start deliberating.