YONKERS - Nick Spano has been a power player in Westchester and New York politics for more than three decades, but he's now the latest politician brought down by federal corruption charges.
Politics have run in the Spano family. His father, Leonard, was a longtime county clerk. His younger brother, Mike, is a former state assemblyman who is now just two months into his new job as the Democratic mayor in their hometown of Yonkers.
During that mayoral campaign last fall, Republican John Murtagh repeatedly brought up the federal corruption probe surrounding the Ridge Hill development and the Spano family connection to it.
The two people metioned by Murtagh were Zehy Jereis and Anthony Mangone. Jeries was Nick Spano's protégé and was his handpicked choice to head the Yonkers Republican party. Mangone was Spano's chief of staff and attorney. In January 2010, both men were indicted on bribery and extortion charges along with Yonkers city councilwoman Sandy Annabi who's accused of selling her council votes to approve Ridge Hill and another development.
Nick Spano was a lobbyist for the Ridge Hill developer Forest City Ratner and after the indictments, Spano hired his own high-powered criminal defense lawyer.
In November 2010, Mangone pleaded guilty and started cooperating with federal prosecutors. Days later, former state senator Vincent Leibell, who worked closely with Spano in Albany, pled guilty to obstruction of justice and failing to pay taxes on kickbacks he got from crooked lawyers.
Nick Spano pleads guilty to federal tax crime
Ex-state Sen. Nick Spano denies he is target of probe
Yonkers mayoral candidates spar over Ridge Hill scandal