Thursday, January 07, 2010

From the U.S. Attorney on the Yonkers case: "the developer enlisted the [now-indicted] Jereis," but he "demanded" a consulting contract from FCR

Forest City Ratner says it's not a target in the Yonkers corruption case involving former Council Member Sandy Annabi and former Republican Party Chair Zehy Jereis, but the U.S. Attorney wouldn't confirm that.

According to the prepared remarks for U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, which I received today, the clues regarding FCR's role are contradictory; one sentence suggests FCR was a mover behind the alleged dirty deal, while another suggests that "Developer No. 2" might have been extorted:
In June, the developer enlisted Jereis, who had been providing Annabi with tens of thousands of dollars in secret payments, to get Councilwoman Annabi’s vote.

...And for his part, Jereis demanded, and received, a so-called consulting contract worth $60,000 a year from the Ridge Hill developer immediately after Councilwoman Annabi switched her vote.
Did FCR blow the whistle?

According to unnamed sources talking to the Daily News (as noted by DDDB), it looks like FCR was playing along:
At no time during these meetings and agreements with Jereis did Ratner go to the FBI, according to two sources familiar with the investigation.
The remarks about Ridge Hill, verbatim

The Indictment also lays out the facts surrounding Councilwoman Annabi’s sudden about-face on the “Ridge Hill Development Project.”

That was a project proposed by another developer to transform an 81-acre tract of land into retail shopping, restaurants, office space, and other uses. As with the Longfellow project, the Councilwoman was an outspoken critic of the Ridge Hill Project as well.

She voted against the project; she filed a civil lawsuit to block it; and she repeatedly rejected efforts by the Ridge Hill developer to persuade her.

That all changed over just a few days in June 2006. In June, the developer enlisted Jereis, who had been providing Annabi with tens of thousands of dollars in secret payments, to get Councilwoman Annabi’s vote. And that is what he did. Within days of Jereis’s involvement, Councilwoman Annabi did an about-face on the Ridge Hill project. What’s more, that reversal was announced in a press release – drafted by Jereis and representatives of the developer.

And for his part, Jereis demanded, and received, a so-called consulting contract worth $60,000 a year from the Ridge Hill developer immediately after Councilwoman Annabi switched her vote.

Beyond these allegations, the Indictment also charges that – on three separate occasions for three different properties – Councilwoman Annabi engaged in mortgage fraud. She made a series of false statements in order to obtain favorable mortgages and home equity loans. Among other things, we allege that she:
1. misled banks about her liabilities;
2. lied about the source of her down payments;
3. and submitted fake pay stubs, doctored W-2s, and bogus bank statements.

Finally, the Indictment charges Councilwoman Annabi with filing false tax returns for tax years 2005 and 2006.

2 comments:

  1. I see no ambiguity in where this is heading for FCRC. Note the report in the Daily News that the consulting agreement with FCRC was entered into after the change of Annabi's position/vote, but that the consulting agreement was backdated two months. This fasification suggests that FCRC believed that its own conduct was improper.

    Nor do I see a shakedown of FCRC. What was Jereis' threat? That Annabi would vote against the project? That was always her position.

    Assuming the facts of the Daily News article to be true, it leads to one conclusion: Annabi was selling, and FCRC was buying.

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  2. Right. Jereis "extorted" Ratner? Seems to me that Jereis had nothing to hurt Ratner with, but Ratner certainly had plenty to hurt Jereis with.

    If Ratner says no to Jereis' entreaties, what does Jereis do to Ratner?

    Put it this way. A development approval is at the center of a corruption indictment, including conspiracy and bribery--who has something to gain from conspiring? The developer, of course. Who would initiate or propel a plan? The developer of course.

    Allegedly for all, of course.

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