Hamlet Peralta, the former Harlem restaurant owner linked to an NYPD corruption scandal, pleaded not guilty to charges of running a $12 million Ponzi scheme at his arraignment in federal court in Manhattan on Friday.
Peralta, 36, is being held on a $5 million bond, but his lawyer told U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest that he’ll be seeking a bail reduction next week so he can get out, while prosecutors said they will be asking for a detention order with no bail. Forrest said she would hear the requests next Thursday.
Peralta is charged with luring investors – including an NYPD official and a member of organized crime – to give him money for a phony liquor wholesale business, and then using the money for himself.
Prosecutors say they have evidence that police officials hung out at his restaurant, referred other investors to his scam, and traveled with a high-ranking official to the Dominican Republic.
Jona Rechnitz, a Brooklyn businessman under scrutiny in the NYPD probe for giving gifts to police brass, was one of the victims who invested with Peralta.