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Norman Seabrook, ex-NYC jail union boss, predicts acquittal

Norman Seabrook, center, the former head of New

Norman Seabrook, center, the former head of New York City's jail guard union, talks to reporters outside federal court after pleading not guilty in his bribery case, Friday, July 22, 2016, in New York. He's been charged with funneling $20 million in union funds to a hedge fund through a middleman in exchange for a $60,000 kickback. He told reporters outside court Friday that he expects to be vindicated. Credit: AP / Tom Hays

Once-powerful former New York City jail guards union boss Norman Seabrook predicted he would be acquitted of corruption charges after prosecutors outlined a raft of evidence in a Manhattan federal court hearing on Friday.

“Absolutely not guilty,” Seabrook told reporters outside court, repeating his declaration a few minutes earlier to U.S. District Judge Andrew Carter. “No question about it. We will be vindicated. God is a good god.”

Seabrook, 56, of the Bronx, is charged with taking $60,000 in kickbacks from hedge fund founder Murray Huberfeld, 55, of Manhattan, to invest Correction Officers Benevolent Association pension funds with Platinum Partners. Huberfeld also pleaded not guilty on Friday.

The government alleges Seabrook, the union’s head for 21 years, received the bribe in an $820 Ferragamo bag. Long known as a labor leader who was fond of fashion, he came to court in a sharp, light gray suit with a matching periwinkle tie and lapel handkerchief.

Prosecutors said the cash was passed by an intermediary, identified as Brooklyn investor Jona Rechnitz, a government cooperator who is also a witness in a federal corruption case against two NYPD officials and a focus of probes of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s fundraising.

Evidence in the case, prosecutor Russell Capone told Carter, includes wiretapped conversations from four cellphones of co-conspirators — a few of them that need translation from Spanish or Yiddish — in addition to “several thousand” emails.

Carter said it would take at least 90 days for the government to produce the materials and the defense to digest them, and set the next hearing in the case for Nov. 4.


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