Friday, January 8, 2010
Did Bruce Ratner bribe Yonkers council member?
From the Daily News:
Developer Bruce Ratner's company agreed to hire the cousin of a former Yonkers councilwoman if the pol dropped her opposition to one of his major projects, prosecutors and other sources say.
The stunning conflict emerged in the indictment Wednesday of Yonkers Councilwoman Sandy Annabi and her cousin Zehy Jereis, a former Yonkers official.
Annabi, Jereis and a local lawyer were hit with multiple charges, brought by Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, in a bribery and extortion scheme.
Ratner confirmed that his firm, Forest City Ratner, was the "Developer No. 2" named in the indictment. The project at issue was a huge residential/commercial project in Yonkers called Ridge Hill.
Annabi opposed Ratner's project. Then, in June 2006, Jereis was introduced to unnamed reps of Developer No. 2 who promised to arrange a meeting with Annabi, the indictment states.
After Jereis and Annabi met with Forest City reps at a Brooklyn restaurant, Jereis asked Forest City to give him a job, the indictment and sources state.
The potential quid pro quo emerged in a June 28, 2006, "agreement in principle" in which Developer No. 2 "agreed to give Jereis a job sometime after Annabi formally voted in favor of the Ridge Hill project," the indictment alleged.
Two weeks later, Annabi switched her vote. In October 2006, Developer No. 2 signed a contract hiring Jereis as a "real estate consultant" for $60,000 at $5,000 a month.
At no time during these meetings and agreements with Jereis did Ratner go to the FBI, according to two sources familiar with the investigation.
Ratner is the developer of the Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn and The New York Times office building in Manhattan. Neither he nor his employees were charged in the indictment.