De Bla­sio Donor Tes­ti­fies to Brib­ing the Mayor for Fa­vors

The Jewish Voice - - NEW YORK - By Re­becca Gold

On Thurs­day, March 22, an owner of a Long Is­land res­tau­rant tes­ti­fied un­der oath that in ex­change for fa­vors from the city, he had given bribes to Mayor Bill de Bla­sio and others.

The owner of Wa­ter’s Edge res­tau­rant Haren­dra Singh, said that he di­rected funds to de Bla­sio’s cam­paign, in or­der to han­dle prop­erty mat­ters, such as get­ting bet­ter terms of his lease, ac­cord­ing to the New York Times. Singh said that Mayor de Bla­sio was an ac­tive par­tic­i­pant in the il­le­gal ac­tiv­i­ties, and on mul­ti­ple oc­ca­sions they spoke in the same con­ver­sa­tion about do­na­tions to de Bla­sio’s cam­paign and Singh’s res­tau­rant lease.

In ref­er­ence to the mayor, Singh said, "He made many phone calls, His of­fice was work­ing very hard, from his deputy mayor to his as­sis­tant to his in­ter­gov­ern­men­tal af­fairs per­son. Ev­ery­one was work­ing."

Wash­ing­ton Free Bea­con re­ports, “Singh's tes­ti­mony came dur­ing the cor­rup­tion trial of for­mer Nas­sau County ex­ec­u­tive Ed­ward Mangano and for­mer Town of Oys­ter Bay su­per­vi­sor John Ven­ditto. The restau­ran­teur has pleaded guilty to brib­ing both of them. Mangano and Ven­ditto are on trial for charges that in­clude ex­tor­tion, hon­est ser­vices fraud, and con­spir­acy. They may face decades in prison. Ac­cord­ing to Singh, de Bla­sio re­quested con­tri­bu­tions from him and, when Singh men­tioned the con­tri­bu­tion limit, the mayor told him to find a way around it. De Bla­sio sim­ply said, ’Lis­ten, I don’t want to know. Just do what you have to do,’ ac­cord­ing to Singh. Records show Singh, his fam­ily, and other as­so­ciates do­nated tens of thou­sands of dol­lars to de Bla­sio, but Singh said he fun­neled much more to the mayor through ‘straw donors.’ Singh was able to skirt the con­tri­bu­tion limit, he said, by hav­ing others donate to de Bla­sio and re­ceive re­im­burse­ment from Singh. De Bla­sio and Singh dis­cussed these straw donors twice, the wit­ness tes­ti­fied.”

In re­sponse to these new ac­cu­sa­tions, de Blasi says Singh’s bribery claims against him are just an at­tempt on the part of the res­tau­rant owner to get out of serv­ing jail time.

Back in Jan­uary, the mayor said, "It was thor­oughly looked at, and there’s a rea­son there were no charges brought, be­cause there was noth­ing there.”

In Singh’s tes­ti­mony, he said that his il­le­gal deal­ing with de Bla­sio go as far back as when he was pub­lic ad­vo­cate, which was a po­si­tion the mayor had from 2010 to 2013. Singh said he was seek­ing the city to help him with his lease and a prob­lem with a nearby pier, when he was first in­tro­duced to the mayor by lawyer and Demo­cratic Party of­fi­cial Thomas Garry.

Singh did not want to shell out the money to fi­nance the re­place­ment of a pier lo­cated near his Wa­ter’s Edge res­tau­rant. At the same time, Singh was ne­go­ti­at­ing a lease with the city, which he spoke about with de

De Bla­sio sim­ply said, "Lis­ten, I don’t want to know. Just do what you have to do.”

Bla­sio on mul­ti­ple oc­ca­sions.

As­sis­tant US at­tor­ney Cather­ine Mirabile asked Singh, "Did you give these con­tri­bu­tions as bribes to Bill de Bla­sio?" He an­swered, "Yes.”

De­fense lawyers ar­gued that it is un­fair to pros­e­cute their clients and not the mayor. Last week, de­fense at­tor­ney for Ven­ditto, Marc Ag­nifilo, said there is a pos­si­bil­ity that he will re­quest de Bla­sio to tes­tify, de­pend­ing on what Singh says.

The trial is ex­pected to con­tinue for at least another month, with the mayor likely com­ing up again next week dur­ing cross-ex­am­i­na­tion.

Mayor Bill de Bla­sio has been ac­cused of tak­ing bribes from a Long Is­land res­tau­rant owner in ex­change for prop­erty re­lated fa­vors. (Photo Credit: Wikipedia)

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