Friday, April 5, 2013

Feds Take Down Assemblyman Eric Stevenson

  79th Assemblyman Eric Stevenson is the latest Bronx elected official to be arrested for taking a bribe, this coming only two days after State Senator Malcolm Smith, Councilman Dan Halloran, Bronx Republican Leader Jay Savino, and Queens County Republican Vice Chairman Vincent Tabone arrests. State Assemblyman ERIC STEVENSON was charged with accepting bribes in exchange for official acts. STEVENSON is charged with taking more than $22,000 in bribes from IGOR BELYANSKY, ROSTISLAV BELYANSKY (a/k/a “SLAVA”), IGOR TSIMERMAN, and DAVID BINMAN, all of whom are also charged, in exchange for STEVENSON’s official acts, which include drafting, proposing, and agreeing to enact legislation.  

   Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “For the second time in three days, we unseal criminal charges against a sitting member of our state legislature. As alleged, Assemblyman Eric Stevenson was bribed to enact a statutory moratorium to give his co-defendants a local monopoly – a fairly neat trick that offends core principles of both democracy and capitalism, simultaneously, and it is exactly what the defendants managed to do. The allegations illustrate the corruption of an elected representative’s core function – a legislator selling legislation. And based on these allegations, it becomes more and more difficult to avoid the sad conclusion that political corruption in New York is indeed rampant and that a show-me-the- money culture in Albany is alive and well.”

   Another key figure in this case however is 86th Assemblyman Nelson Castro who was elected in 2008 under a cloud of alleged fraud in voter registration. In July of 2009 unbeknown to the public Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson  charged Castro with a sealed perjury indictment about false statements Castro made regarding the number of people registered to vote (in the 2008 election) from his apartment. The feds apparently got involved in the case and were holding the indictment over Castro's head to make him cooperate to make it go away faster. Castro agreed to wear a wire since his indictment and that is how Assemblyman Stevenson was caught in 2013.

  Apparently the feds wanted bigger fish than Castro as we saw after the 2010 election where the Bronx Democratic County organization attempted to defeat Assemblyman Castro, but Castro was reelected. Soon after Castro's victory he patched things up with the Bronx Democratic County Organization, and I believe was directed to go after the Bronx Democratic County organization to bring it down. However Castro and the feds were a little late as the Bronx County Democratic organization leadership had changed hands to a new county leader and officers shortly before Castro tried to infiltrate it. I have been told that the current Bronx Democratic County Leader Assemblyman Carl Heastie never discussed any type of matters like this with Assemblyman Castro.  There are threats and promises of more indictments by the U.S. Attorney, but we will have to wait and see if that happens. There was a funny comment by former 79th Assemblyman Michael Benjamin in the New York Post. Benjamin writes that his tenure as 79th Assemblyman will now be bookended by Assemblywoman Gloria Davis who pleaded guilty to bribery in 2002 and now by the Eric Stevenson in 2013.

  The people should only wonder why Assemblyman Castro who everyone thought they knew committed a crime of voter fraud in 2008, why the charges were never made public? Why it took four years to snarl another assemblyman only, and why Castro was allowed to run for re-election with a sealed indictment hanging over his head?

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