Former Yonkers official charged with corruption over Forest City project

Sandy Annabi, a former city council member, and the Ridge Hill site

A former city council member from Yonkers was charged today with selling her vote to approve developer Forest City Ratner’s Ridge Hill Project, as well as another developer’s real estate project in Westchester, the office of the United States attorney for the Southern District said.

Sandy Annabi, the city council’s Democratic majority leader who served through the end of 2009, allegedly took more than $166,000 in cash and valuables to switch her votes to support the projects, the indictment says.

Also charged in the complaint were Zehy Jereis, the former chairman of the Yonkers Republican Party and Anthony Mangone, a Westchester attorney. They each allegedly made illegal payments to Annabi, the indictment says.

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In 2005, Annabi publicly stated her opposition to city council approval of a zoning change needed for the development. However, in June 2006 she and Jereis met with representatives of Forest City, and within a few days a company representative agreed to give Jereis a consulting job sometime after she voted for the project, prosecutors said. On July 11, 2006, she voted in favor of the project, giving it enough support to pass.

Shortly thereafter, Jereis was awarded a consulting contract by the developer worth $60,000 over one year, authorities said.

“Forest City Ratner Companies has cooperated fully with the U.S. Attorney’s Office during the course of its investigation and will continue to do so,” the company said in an e-mailed statement. “In addition, Forest City has been advised by the U.S. Attorney’s Office that neither the company nor any of its employees is a target of the investigation.”

All three were charged with extortion, and conspiracy to commit bribery. Annabi was also charged with false statements, and faces up to 30 years in prison for that charge. Jereis and Mangone face up to 20 years in prison for the extortion charges. TRD