A federal judge has sentenced Jona Rechnitz — prolific witness, political fundraiser and the head of real estate firm JSR Capital — to serve five months in prison and pay $10 million in restitution.
Since pleading guilty in 2016 to bribing police officers, public officials and a union boss, Rechnitz has spent hundreds of hours assisting in a municipal-corruption probe, the Wall Street Journal reported.
In 2017, Rechnitz was booted from the Borough Park real estate firm where he was a partner, and was implicated in a $70 million Ponzi scheme involving “Hamilton” and Super Bowl tickets. That year, he skipped town to California.
He also admitted to pressuring Mayor Bill de Blasio to oppose SL Green Realty’s One Vanderbilt office project. He said he was acting on behalf of his friend, Andrew Penson, who at the time owned the adjacent Grand Central Terminal and was suing SL Green over the development. In his ruling, the judge acknowledged the perception that white-collar criminals avoid prison if they cooperate with prosecutors.
“There is a feeling that if you get to the prosecutor early you don’t serve,” U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein said. “I think it’s wrong.”
Rechnitz, a campaign bundler in 2013 for de Blasio, had also asked the mayor for help solving his real estate problems, according to emails obtained by the Daily News under the Freedom of Information Law. His testimony aided in the convictions of New York City correction-union president Norman Seabrook, hedge-fund founder Murray Huberfeld and another former de Blasio fundraiser, Jeremy Reichberg.
Alan Levine, an attorney for Rechnitz, said he planned to appeal the decision. [WSJ] — Georgia Kromrei