UPDATE: In August 2011, a Nassau District Court jury acquitted real estate developer Edward Zarabi of giving unlawful gratuities, court records show. Zarabi, 42, of Roslyn had been charged in March 2010.
The story below was originally published on March 4, 2010.
Two Nassau County men were charged Thursday in separate allegations of attempting to bribe or offering unlawful gifts to town employees, according to Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice.
Zarabi, 34, of 54 Arbor Lane, went to the town building department Jan. 28 and left a sealed envelope for inspector Venizelos Voutsinas, according to the district attorney.
Voutsinas, who was inspecting one of Zarabi's buildings, found a thank-you card and three $100 American Express gift cards inside, and reported the items to his supervisor, said district attorney spokeswoman Carole Trottere.
As he left court, Zarabi said he's being made a "scapegoat" and insisted he was simply giving a gift after Voutsinas invited him to his wedding.
"It was just a gift for his wedding, with a card," Zarabi said. "I was happy for the guy."
A Town of North Hempstead spokesman declined to comment, citing the ongoing probe.
Zarabi pleaded not guilty at First District Court in Hempstead Thursday to misdemeanor charges of giving unlawful gratuities. He was released on his recognizance and is due back in court March 31.
Zarabi's father, builder Mansour Zarabi, testified as a prosecution witness in the 2008 bribery trial of North Hempstead building inspector Thomas McDonough, who was acquitted.
In a separate case, an East Meadow lawyer was charged with one count of attempted bribery after he tried to pay a clerk to expedite an information request, according to the district attorney's office.
On Feb. 11, at the Town of Hempstead building department, Frederic Powell, 54, filed a request for public information on a property he was working on, the district attorney's office said in a release.
According to the district attorney's account:
When informed by a clerk that the form would take several days to process, Powell told the clerk he needed the information that day and placed a $100 bill on the counter, and another when the clerk rejected the first one.
When the clerk pushed the bills back at Powell and said she would call him with the information, Powell threw a crumpled $50 bill at her. The clerk returned the money to him.
Powell pleaded not guilty and was released on his own recognizance and is due back in court March 17. A call to his attorney, Robert MacDonald of Mineola, was not immediately returned.
In January 2009, Powell was charged with stealing $700,000 from two investors who had made bridge loans - money advanced to clients needing temporary cash as they arranged long-term mortgages. He pleaded not guilty and the case is pending.