David Fried, Rockland County executive candidate, got 2006 campaign money from felons
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Nearly one-third of Rockland County executive hopeful David Fried's campaign contributions from a failed 2006 Assembly run came from felons, according to campaign finance documents.
Of the $61,719.91 Fried, who was then a Rockland County legislator, raised in that race, $18,800 came from three sources: Moses Stern, who is at the center of a federal bribery probe that ensnared six political figures last month; Gregg Brie, who is behind bars for scamming Rocklanders out of $2.13 million; and Richard Lipsky, who was convicted of bribing former state Sen. Carl Kruger (D-Brooklyn).
On Tuesday, Newsday exclusively reported that embattled developer Stern donated $10,000 from three of his companies to Fried's campaign just weeks before the 33-year-old attorney lost to Legis. Ellen Jaffee (D-Suffern) in a Democratic primary.
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Fried contends that he did not have personal relationships with any of the men beyond a few meetings and they gave money to many political campaigns and organizations over the years.
BRIE SPREAD THE WEALTH
Brie, 45, was well-known around Rockland County as a philanthropist who lived in a mansion on High Mountain Road and cruised around in his fancy cars, which included a Bentley and a Lamborghini.
In 2008, he pleaded guilty to grand larceny after he was caught swindling cash from 26 people while he ran a website called "1-866-I Don't Know," a referral service that provided users information about businesses and other entities. He also was convicted of swiping $200,000 from a brokerage firm in Westchester. He is serving a 3- to 9-year sentence at Franklin Correctional Facility in Malone, records show.
Brie donated a total of $9,400 to Fried; with the first $1,000 coming in 2005. A portion of one $5,000 donation made on Aug. 7, 2006, from Brie's company -- which exceeded the campaign contribution limit of $3,400 -- was later repaid by Fried. Less than a month later, however, Brie donated another $3,400, this time under his own name.
Although Brie threw a fundraiser for him in 2006, Fried contends their relationship was casual.
"Gregg Brie was involved with many elected officials and civic organizations," Fried said. "He had donated tens of thousands of dollars to civic not-for-profits."
Reached by phone, a woman who said her name was Madeline Brie would not comment on Gregg Brie's relationship with Fried. "No comment," said the woman, who would not disclose her relation to Gregg Brie. "I have nothing to say about it."
Brie had donated funds to a handful of other Rockland pols -- including state Sen. David Carlucci (D-Rockland/Nyack), late Assemb. Kenneth Zebrowski, acting Hillburn and Airmont Village Justice Karen Riley and Rockland County Legislator and county executive candidate Edwin Day (R-New City) -- but in lesser amounts than he gave to Fried.
Day, who received $1,500 from Brie in 2006, said he wrote to the district attorney at the time alerting him to the donations and offered to put the money toward a fund to repay Brie's victims. The fund never materialized.
"I didn't know him personally," said Day, who added that Brie was one of his many contributors that year.
Riley, who said her children went to school with Brie's kids, claimed: "Everyone was really shocked to find out he was a thief."
FRIED SAYS HE WASN'T AWARE OF LIPSKY DONATION
In July 2006, Fried's campaign got $1,000 from Lipsky.
When asked about Lipsky's contribution, Fried said he wasn't aware of it. He said he had met with Lipsky once -- with other county legislators present -- to discuss a Walmart project that never materialized.
In January 2012, Lipsky pleaded guilty to bribery and conspiracy to commit bribery in the Kruger case. He was released in February from Otisville Correctional Facility in Orange County after three months.
Asked why Fried did not disclose the donations from Brie and Lipsky earlier this week when the Stern money was revealed, he said it "wasn't necessary" and that it previously had been reported in the media. The only mention of Brie's donations to Fried online are from a 2008 blog post by the now-defunct Progressive Rockland site.
"It's a previous matter that was already addressed," said Fried. "My commitment to donate $10,000 (of Stern's contributions) on my own voluntarily, I think satisfies that."
Lipsky, along with Brie's lawyer, Keith Braunfotel, did not respond to requests for comment.
FRIED WILL STAY IN RACE
Moses Stern's three companies -- First Republic Group Inc., Asian Capital Corp. and SME International Associates Inc. -- gave Fried $10,000 on Aug. 23, 2006, for his campaign. Through SME International, he also gave $800 to the Rockland County Republican Committee -- which endorsed Day for county executive Thursday night -- and another $2,000 to former Assemb. Ryan Karben.
Stern acted as an FBI informant after he was caught up in a mortgage fraud scam in Monsey. He led federal investigators to Spring Valley Mayor Noramie Jasmin and Deputy Mayor Joseph A. Desmaret, as well as four other New York City political figures, who have been charged in a sprawling corruption scheme. They all have pleaded not guilty.
After being contacted by Newsday about Stern's contributions, Fried said he would donate the $10,000 to charity. He said he's not planning to relinquish the campaign funds from Brie and Lispky.
Fried, who stepped down from his position as a Spring Valley village justice in November to run for county executive, also vowed to remain in the race.
"It's so far removed," Fried said of the 2006 campaign contributions. "Can you tell me which one of your friends or colleagues or connections would get arrested seven years from now?"