David Fried -- who was endorsed last month by former President Bill Clinton in his bid for Rockland County executive -- said he will give to charity $10,000 that political fixer, government informant and admitted felon Moses "Mark" Stern contributed to Fried's failed 2006 run for New York State Assembly.
"My campaign is committed to transparency and integrity," Fried said Tuesday when told of the contributions by Newsday. "In light of Mr. Stern's despicable actions, it is wholly right to donate that money to charity in order to avoid even the appearance of impropriety."
Several days after Spring Valley Mayor Noramie Jasmin and village trustee Joseph Desmaret were arrested on April 2 by FBI agents in a sweeping public corruption case, Fried issued a statement, saying he hoped the corruption charges were unfounded.
"I sincerely hope these allegations aren't true, but if they prove to be true, it is a violation of public trust," Fried, 33, said. "I have complete trust the Justice Department will thoroughly look into the allegations made against Noramie Jasmin and Joseph Desmaret."
What Fried didn't mention were his connections to fellow Democrat Jasmin and the central figure in the case, Monsey real estate developer Stern, who wore a wire to help snare six political figures and pleaded guilty to federal charges in March.
That case involved an alleged bid by a Democratic Sen. Malcolm Smith to secure a place on the Republican ticket for the New York City mayoral race through bribes and a secret partnership among Jasmin and a Monsey real estate developer along with an undercover FBI agent to get the contract to build a community center adjacent to the Spring Valley village center.
DONATED A FIFTH OF FRIED'S 'O6 CONTRIBUTIONS
Stern's three companies -- SME International Associates Inc., First Republic Group, Inc. and Asian Capital Corp. -- donated $10,000 to Fried's failed 2006 run for Assembly. Stern's companies wrote three checks to the campaign on Aug. 23, 2006, less than a month before the Democratic primary which Fried lost to Legis. Ellen Jaffee (D-Suffern). The donation was roughly 20 percent of the total Fried raised for the campaign.
Stern and Fried met once at Stern's office on Route 59 in Tallman during the 2006 campaign, Fried said, but he didn't recall the substance of their conversation.
"Mr. Stern played absolutely no role in the campaign beyond the contributions which will now be donated to charity," he asserted.
The contributions to Fried's campaign were the only direct donations to any campaign made by Stern's companies, according to state Board of Elections records.
Fried said Stern was known in political circles and other officials suggested he meet with him. He did not recall who introduced them.
"Obviously, in light of what we know now, I never would have had any interaction with him if I had known then what he was," Fried said Tuesday.
The contributions were made before Stern's companies filed for bankruptcy after securing $15 million in financing from Citibank in 2007 to buy strip malls throughout the southeastern United States.
In 2009, Stern became one of the targets of a mortgage fraud investigation by the Rockland County district attorney's office involving a run-down house next to his Remsen Avenue mansion. Stern sold the property at 39 Remsen Ave. to his brother-in-law David Neumann and another buyer for $1.85 million in 2007 after buying it for $550,000 two years earlier.
Federal authorities took over the case in 2010, accusing Neumann of using forged appraisal forms to inflate the value of the property and secure $1.5 million in financing for the property that was assessed at $59,000. Stern was not charged in the federal case. Neumann pleaded guilty in federal court in November 2012.
Stern has been cooperating with federal investigators since at least 2011, according to court papers.
FRIED'S MOTHER HIRED TO VILLAGE JOB
As part of the federal sting, Stern lined up straw donors to funnel at least $15,000 to Smith's campaign in August 2012, according to federal authorities. Stern acted as a go-between for Smith to Republican GOP bosses in New York City, Joseph Savino of the Bronx and Vincent Tabone of Queens, to pay bribes to secure Smith's spot on the Republican mayoral ticket, federal authorities said.
In exchange, Smith promised to help Stern and the undercover FBI agent, who had entered into the secret partnership with Jasmin, to secure $500,000 in state transportation funds to build an access road for the proposed community center.
Fried was elected Spring Valley Village Justice in 2009 -- the same year Jasmin was elected mayor. In January 2011, Jasmin and the village board hired Fried's mother, Beverley, as an office service aide in the Department of Public Works at a salary of $6,276, according to Village Board records.
She still works for the village.
"She applied for the job and was hired like anyone else," Fried said, adding that no political strings were pulled to get his mother the job. "She took and passed the civil service exam."
Fried, who served as a county legislator from 2004 to 2008, said he worked closely with Hillary Rodham Clinton while she was a New York senator, addressing the needs of the Hudson Valley. He also worked as a presidential advance aid for Bill Clinton from 1998 until 2001.
In a statement read by Rep. Nita Lowey (D-Harrison) at an April 21 fundraising event, Bill Clinton said: "I believe he has the vision and experience to lead Rockland forward to a new era of fiscal responsibility and government accountability. I am happy to endorse my friend David Fried for Rockland County Executive."
Legis. Ilan Schoenberger (D-Wesley Hills), Suffern Mayor Dagan LaCorte and Spring Valley resident Vladimir Leon also are seeking the Democratic nomination to replace C. Scott Vanderhoef, a Republican who has been Rockland County executive for the past two decades and is not seeking re-election.
Legis. Edwin Day, of New City, is the lone Republican in the race.
Fried, who stepped down from his position as a Spring Valley village justice in November to run for county executive, has set consolidation of county government and the county's fiscal woes at the top of his election agenda. The county is operating some $100 million in the red.