Lawyers in next month’s scheduled Manhattan federal court trial of businessman Jeremy Reichberg, accused of paying NYPD officials for favors, are fighting over allowing evidence that Reichberg also bribed a Floral Park police official, according to recent court filings.
The government says its NYPD bribery case will be buttressed by evidence that Reichberg, in similar fashion, tried to “curry favor” with the unnamed Floral Park official through gifts including home improvements, discounted or free jewelry, a private plane trip and event tickets.
The relationship, prosecutors say, enabled Reichberg to get his partner Jona Rechnitz — a key figure in the federal probe of City Hall corruption who is now a star federal witness — a Floral Park police chaplaincy, parking placard and permission to put lights and sirens on his car.
In addition, according to the government, in exchange for the gifts, “on at least one occasion Reichberg sought and obtained the FPPD official’s assistance in releasing a person who had been arrested.”
Reichberg, of Brooklyn, and ex-NYPD Deputy Insp. James Grant are to go to trial April 30 on charges that Grant provided police escorts and aided with private disputes, traffic tickets and a gun license in exchange for a private jet trip to Las Vegas with a prostitute and other gifts.
Former NYPD Deputy Chief Michael Harrington pleaded guilty on March 1.
Prosecutors say the Floral Park evidence and other alleged bad acts — including alleged Westchester County payoffs and political donations given for favors — are evidence of Reichberg’s “overarching bribery scheme.”
But Reichberg attorney Susan Necheles has asked U.S. District Judge Gregory Woods to keep the Floral Park evidence and other behavior that are not part of the charges away from jurors, arguing the information is irrelevant.
“The charge in this case is that Reichberg bribed Harrington and Grant,” Necheles said in a court filing. “Bribes allegedly paid to a Floral Park police officer are clearly not part of that charge.” She also is seeking to quash new grand jury subpoenas issued for evidence on Floral Park and other matters.
The government filing did not name the Floral Park police official, but in testimony at another corruption trial last year, Rechnitz — expected to be a key witness against Reichberg — named Floral Park Police Commissioner Stephen McAllister as one of the police officials he ferried on a plane with prostitutes to a college football game in Miami in 2013.
McAllister, an ex-NYPD officer who joined the Floral Park force in 2010, has denied being on the plane. Contacted Thursday about the latest allegations, he declined to comment but took a jab at Rechnitz, whose testimony last year in the bribery trial of city jails union boss Norman Seabrook ended in a hung jury.
“Jona has proved his worth as a witness — he’s been found to be a complete liar,” McAllister said. “I wouldn’t lend any credence to anything he says.”
Later, McAllister’s lawyer, Joel Weiss of Uniondale, said in a statement: “An independent investigation by the Village of Floral Park touched on much of this and concluded that these allegations were unfounded. In fact, such allegations as to Steve McAllister are completely false.”
Weiss declined to provide documentation of the village investigation, say who conducted it, or specify which allegations were not covered by the phrase “much of this.” He also declined to comment on the recent grand jury subpoena.
Floral Park’s mayor and village attorney did not return calls and messages seeking comment.
Rechnitz testified at last year’s trial that he and Reichberg spread money and perks around to top cops and politicians to add to their “status” as big-time New York City players. Prosecutors said spreading their influence outside the city and into suburban departments was part of their plan.
“Reichberg relied upon a network of officers to obtain favors, and that network extended beyond the jurisdiction of the NYPD to other adjacent localities,” the government said. “Reichberg capitalized on his NYPD relationships to carry the scheme further, especially where NYPD officials moved on to posts in neighboring law enforcement jurisdictions.”
Prosecutors have also asked to put in evidence that Reichberg used his connections to get people off jury duty, facilitated a bribe to Seabrook, helped arrange for “straw donors” to give political contributions, and gave to Mayor Bill de Blasio and others in hopes of favors.
Necheles did not return a call for comment.