A campaign donor to Mayor Bill de Blasio secretly pleaded guilty in federal court to bribery, admitting that he used his contributions to the mayor to try to win favorable lease terms for a restaurant he owned on city property, newly unsealed court records show.
While the court papers included no charges against Mr. de Blasio or other city officials, a federal criminal information in the case makes it clear that the donor, Harendra Singh, got something in return.
The court documents said that the mayor took steps to benefit Mr. Singh in exchange for the contributions, and that an unnamed senior aide to Mr. de Blasio arranged a meeting to pressure a city agency to offer more favorable terms to Mr. Singh.
Last March, federal prosecutors who had investigated Mr. de Blasio’s fund-raising decided not to bring criminal charges against the mayor based on what they described as a high burden of proof and the challenge of proving corruption without “evidence of personal profit.”
Mr. Singh’s plea hearing occurred in a sealed Long Island courtroom before United States District Court Judge Sandra J. Feuerstein on Oct. 17, 2016; Mr. Singh said that his donations were intended as part of a quid pro quo, according to a transcript of the hearing.
“I gave these donations to the elected official in exchange for efforts by that official and other city officials to obtain a lease renewal from the city agency for my restaurant on terms that were favorable to me,” he said.
Mr. Singh did not name the mayor, and the court documents refer instead to an “Official #2” who received the donations; various details in the documents make it clear that the unnamed official is Mr. de Blasio.