YONKERS - The first witnesses are expected to take the stand Tuesday in former Yonkers Councilwoman Sandy Annabi's corruption trial, but the defense has already revealed that it will try to convince jurors that the case is about love, not bribery.
Prosecutors claim Annabi sold her City Council votes on two development projects, including Ridge Hill Village, in exchange for $174,000 in cash, house payments, jewelry and other goods.
All that money allegedly came from Annabi's distant cousin and former Yonkers Republican Party Chairman Zehy Jereis. However, while the prosecution claims Jereis paid Annabi to buy her vote, the former councilwoman's attorneys insist Jereis was in love with her.
Jereis is accused of extorting a $60,000 consulting contract out of Forest City Ratner, the developer of Ridge Hill, after securing Annabi's support for the project.
Jereis's attorney, Anthony Siano, told jurors yesterday his married client was infatuated with Annabi and spent money pursuing her "not for her vote, but for her body."
Both News 12 Westchester political analysts, Lawrence Otis Graham and Tony Sayegh, express doubt that this argument will hold up in court.Jury selection under way in Annabi corruption trialMotion to delay trial denied in Annabi bribery, extortion case Exclusive: Developers linked to Annabi bribery case plead guilty Ex-Yonkers councilwoman in court on corruption charges Federal judge accuses Annabi lawyer of lying New court date set for ex-Yonkers Councilwoman Annabi