Wednesday, February 01, 2012

February 14: a day of reckoning for Forest City Ratner? Cases involving Atlantic Yards timetable and Ridge Hill corruption charges go to court

Tuesday, February 14, may be a day of reckoning for developer Forest City Ratner, as two key court cases proceed in Manhattan.

Sometime after 2 pm, there will be oral argument in the appeal filed by FCR and Empire State Development in the case challenging the state's finding that there was no need for a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS)  to analyze the impacts of a 25-year buildout.

In a victory for community petitioners, a judge ruled that such an SEIS was needed.

The case will be heard in the Appellate Division of New York State Supreme Court, 27 Madison Avenue. I've already written about the first two legal exchanges: the appeal brief from ESDC/FCR and the reply from the petitioners. The appellants get the last word, so I will write shortly about their reply.

The Ridge Hill case in Yonkers

On February 14, jury selection begins in federal court regarding the Ridge Hill corruption case, which touches on Forest City Ratner, though the developer was not charged. The case, which could take a month to try, will be heard by U.S. District Judge Colleen McMahon in courtroom 14C of the federal courthouse at 500 Pearl Street.

It involves two defendants. Former City Council Member Sandy Annabi, who changed her vote to approve the project and was indicted for accepting bribes. Her cousin, Zehy Jereis, was indicted for giving them.

A third defendant, Anthony Mangone, in November 2010 pleaded guilty to participating in a conspiracy to bribe Annabi regarding another project (the Longfellow project), aiding Annabi's receipt of corrupt payments, extortion under color of official right, and travel act bribery.

Forest City, which hired Jereis for an apparent no-show job, was not charged and issued a statement indicating that it had been told by federal prosecutors that neither it nor its employees was a "target" of the investigation. Will Forest City staffers or lobbyists be called to testify?

I'll have a preview article about the case in the next week or so.

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