Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Times says judge questions Ridge Hill conspiracy allegations, still hasn't covered Libous episode

The New York Times's sporadic coverage of the Yonkers corruption trial resumes today with Judge in Case From Yonkers Raises Doubts on Evidence, an article that should hardly displease Forest City Ratner:
Prosecutors contend that the councilwoman, Sandy Annabi, dropped her opposition to the mall complex, known as Ridge Hill, and a second smaller project, as part of a conspiracy in which she received payments of nearly $175,000 from a co-defendant, Zehy Jereis, and another man. The payments, which began as early as 2002, were made to “influence and control her official conduct, so that he could in turn sell his control over Annabi to the highest bidder,” a prosecutor said during the opening statement.

The judge, Colleen McMahon of Federal District Court, did not dispute that the evidence showed Mr. Jereis had conferred money and gifts on Ms. Annabi. But after sending the jury home, the judge made it clear that she was troubled by what she suggested was a lack of evidence of a criminal conspiracy, and asked for an unusual preliminary argument by prosecutors.
I wasn't there yesterday, so I'm not saying it's not newsworthy--after all, there hasn't been testimony about any plan hatched by Annabi and Jereis.

And the Journal News covered the episode too, in Annabi judge skeptical of prosecution theory:
“We do not allege, we do not have to prove, there was any express agreement to flip the vote,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Perry Carbone said.
He said it was enough for the government to show that there were payments, that there were efforts to conceal them, and that Annabi took official action as a result.
Indeed, a jury might infer that Annabi's acceptance of money and gifts from Jereis involved an expectation of cooperation.

What's missing

But the Yonkers trial raises questions well beyond the charges, and the Times previously described only part of Forest City's questionable behavior, which has been detailed in the Journal News.

Also, the trial has cast a spotlight on a top state Republican, Binghamtom Sen. Tom Libous, who, according to testimony, got his son a job at the law firm of Anthony Mangone, the protege of top Republican Nick Spano.

And that newsworthy story, which just provoked a New York Post editorial, hasn't made the Times.

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