Forest City Ratner carried out “a relentless behind-the-scenes quest” to get approval for a Yonkers mixed-use development, according to trial evidence in a political corruption case cited by the New York Times.
The ongoing federal corruption case charges Yonkers City Council member Sandy Annabi with accepting bribes to reverse her stance and give the last needed vote of approval for Forest City Ratner’s 91-acre mall and housing complex known as Ridge Hill.
Court evidence and testimony show company executives “taking every angle” to get her on board with the plan, because she seemed least set on opposition. A year later signed off on the Ridge Hill proposal after meeting with Forest City Ratner executives in meetings arranged by Yonkers Republican chairman Zehy Jereis.
Forest City Ratner hired well-connected former politicians as consultants, including Mike Spano, who is now the city’s mayor, and the Albert Pirro, the husband of the county’s district attorney at the time, who lawyers suggest was paid $1 million.
But the development firm countered that people are focusing too heavily on Forest City Ratner’s role. The company has not been charged with crimes and was simply navigating “the byzantine maze of politics in Yonkers.” [NYT]