Sandy Annabi, Zehy Jereis appeals rejected by judge
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In her 40-page decision released Thursday morning, U.S. District Judge Colleen McMahon denied the duo's request for new trials on charges that stemmed from a conspiracy to sell Annabi's council vote on key development projects in the city.
Jereis bribed Annabi with nearly 200,000 in gifts and cash over several years to control her vote. The defense argued those were tokens of affection in a bid to win her love.
McMahon said the jury justifiably rejected the defense argument.
"There was . . . ample evidence that Jereis and Annabi did not have a romantic relationship," she wrote. "Telephone records received into evidence lent support for the notion that the Annabi-Jereis relationship revolved around the business of politics rather than romance."
Lawyers for Annabi and Jereis couldn't immediately be reached for comment.
Annabi, 41, and Jereis, 40, face sentencing Nov. 19 on public corruption charges stemming from their March 29 convictions in federal court in Manhattan. A jury found that Jereis had bribed Annabi, a Democrat, with more than $170,000 in cash and gifts -- including airline tickets, jewelry, and real estate down payments -- between 2002 and 2008 to control her vote on key development projects in the city. The two projects charged in the indictment involved the Longfellow School project and the much larger and controversial $600 million Ridge Hill project.
Annabi initially opposed the Ridge Hill project, even joining a lawsuit to block it. But she switched her vote in June 2006, providing the margin of victory for the developer, Forest City Ratner. The developer was not charged with any wrongdoing.
Annabi's changed vote, federal prosecutors said, came at Jereis' behest after he had secured the promise of a consulting contract from the developer.
Earlier this month, federal prosecutors filed papers that scoffed at the notion there was not enough evidence to convict Annabi and Jereis.
Annabi is likely to get a sentence of between 12 and 15 years in prison, although federal statutes could land her in prison for more than 100 years. Jereis faces a maximum of 65 years by statute, but similar to Annabi, sentencing guidelines will likely call for a much lesser sentence of between 14 and 17 years in prison.