Sunday, June 27, 2010

Federal corruption investigation reportedly involves Senator Carl Kruger, whose attorney says he's "not a target"

Southern Brooklyn State Senator Carl Kruger, he of the big political war chest and questionable allegiances (e.g., the "Three Amigos" insurrection in Albany), has long carried Forest City Ratner's water on Atlantic Yards.

And while a reported federal corruption investigation of Kruger does not apparently touch on Atlantic Yards, it suggests some more dubious behavior on the part of the Senator--though parties involved say that's not so.

In an article yesterday headline Brooklyn Senator a Focus of Federal Corruption Inquiry, the Times reported:
Federal investigators are examining whether Senator Carl Kruger, one of the State Legislature’s most powerful members, sought campaign contributions in exchange for political favors, according to court filings and people briefed on the case.

Mr. Kruger, a Democrat from Brooklyn who has amassed the Senate’s largest campaign account, declined to comment on the investigation.

But a Senate Democratic spokesman confirmed Friday that the F.B.I. and the United States attorney’s office in Brooklyn were reviewing allegations that Mr. Kruger helped businessmen with bureaucratic hurdles, with the expectation that they would hold fund-raisers for him.

One of Mr. Kruger’s campaign donors, Michael Levitis, who is suspected of serving as an intermediary between the senator and those seeking favors, has been arrested in the case and accused of lying to investigators.

In court filings, Mr. Levitis is described as soliciting payments from a confidential informant who posed as a businessman looking for help with an inspection.
The Daily News reported yesterday:
Levitis' lawyer Jeffrey Lichtman insisted there was no quid pro quo when his client agreed to host a fund-raiser for the senator at his Brighton Beach restaurant.

"Like any constituent across the country, Mr. Levitis contacted his local politician when he had a problem which affected his business," Lichtman said yesterday.

"Sen. Kruger assisted him because that is what politicians are supposed to do," Lichtman added. "At no time did Kruger demand money or a fund-raiser in exchange for his help."
"Not a target"

Kruger's attorney said the magic words associated with Forest City Ratner and the Ridge Hill investigation:
Attorney Benjamin Brafman said he was told by the U.S. Attorney in Brooklyn that Kruger is no longer a target of an inquiry that began in 2008.

“There was never any proof whatsoever that Kruger ever took anything from anybody to do anything,” Brafman said. “I’ve been told by the U.S. Attorney of the Eastern District of New York that he is not a target, and I do not expect him to face charges.”
Kruger and AY

Who can forget how, at a 5/29/09 oversight hearing, he criticized the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) for "foot-dragging in developing a dialogue” that could advance the project and also cited the MTA's “apparent refusal to move forward on a project that is critical to New York City’s economic future.”

Kruger represents another district tied to the Thomas Jefferson Democratic Club, , part of the southern Brooklyn zone from which Forest City Ratner executive Bruce Bender sprung (as noted by Matthew Schuerman in the Observer).

Kruger endorsed the $6 billion lie; he received $4000 from Bruce Ratner's brother and sister-in-law; and, though a Democrat, he campaigned for Republican Martin Golden in return for new district boundaries that protected his seat, as recounted by Seymour Lachman in Three Men in a Room.

And, lest we forget, Kruger has emerged as a dubious player in the debate over Coney Island, using that considerable campaign war chest to gin up public opposition to the city plan and support for Joe Sitt. (DDDB called it The Unbearable Lightness of Kruger's NIMBYism.)

As I wrote 4/10/08, the Village Voice's Tom Robbins described Kruger as a poster child countering "good-government types." The piece was headlined Living the Political Life Fantastic, with the subtitle "Surf, turf, and doughnuts: A state senator dines out on his campaign war chest."

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