Convicted donor says de Blasio should have testified against developer

Mayor called witness Jona Rechnitz a “liar” — but not in court

TRD New York /
Dec.December 03, 2019 11:05 AM
Mayor Bill De Blasio and Jeremy Reichberg (Credit: Getty Images, Alamy)

Mayor Bill De Blasio and Jeremy Reichberg (Credit: Getty Images, Alamy)

Former Borough Park police liaison and Bill de Blasio donor Jeremy Reich­berg, who was sentenced to four years in prison in May for his role in an NYPD corruption scheme, is appealing his sentence — and argues that the mayor should have been a witness in the case.

Reich­berg’s lawyer claims that “speculative assertions” from his former partner, real estate developer Jona Rechnitz of JSR Capital, “confused and inflamed” the jury, and that allowing de Blasio to be called as a witness would have provided balance to Rechnitz’s testimony.

“Because the defense was unable to call de Blasio to testify, the defense could not erase the prejudice caused by Rechnitz’s speculative assertions,” according to court documents first reported on by the New York Post. “The notoriety of the alleged bribe recipient and the highly publicized nature of Rechnitz’s claims alone warranted enforcing the defense’s subpoena to de Blasio.”

Rechnitz became a key witness in the trial after pleading guilty to honest-services wire fraud in 2016. Reichberg was found guilty on four of five counts of conspiracy, bribery and obstruction of justice in January.

As part of the decade-old corruption scheme, Reichberg provided high-ranking New York Police Department officers with gifts as well as trips to Israel and Las Vegas in exchange for favors — such as shutting down part of the Lincoln Tunnel for “diamond king” Lev Leviev. Rechnitz had worked at Leviev’s firm, Africa Israel, prior to founding JSR Capital in 2010.

Reich­berg and Rechnitz both were named to de Blasio’s inauguration committee — a traditional bone thrown to major donors — and the mayor was known to respond rapidly to Rechnitz’s requests for help with real estate problems. De Blasio has denied the claims and called Rechnitz a “liar.” [NYP] — Kevin Sun


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