De Blasio Donor Testifies to Bribing the Mayor for Favors
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)