Mayor de Blasio gave a retired police official a high-level position in his administration after a key donor called him and requested the appointment as a “personal favor.”
Jona Rechnitz, the real estate developer at the center of the NYPD corruption scandal, reportedly made the call from the office of Philip Banks III, at the time chief of the police department. According to anonymous sources cited by the New York Post, Rechnitz told de Blasio that he hadn’t asked for much since bundling thousands of dollars in campaign donations to de Blasio, and requested he appoint former chief of department Joseph Esposito as head of the city’s Office of Emergency Management.
Esposito ended up getting the gig, which pays $220,000 a year, in June 2014. The Post doesn’t mention when the call took place, or whether Esposito was considered for the job before the call.
Earlier this year Rechnitz, who heads JSR Capital, pleaded guilty to bribing high-level NYPD officials, including Banks. He is cooperating with federal investigators. Rechnitz’ associate Jeremy Reichberg is charged with corruption. He was reportedly in the room during the call along with Banks, as was Banks’ deputy Michael Harrington, who is also charged with corruption.
In April, de Blasio said that he barely knew Rechnitz and Reichberg and knew of “no favorable municipal action” they received in turn for their donations. [NYP] — Konrad Putzier