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January 5, 2012

In Lipsky guilty plea, no mention of Forest City Ratner connection

Atlantic Yards Report

In lobbyist Richard Lipsky's guilty plea yesterday, there was no mention of Atlantic Yards or the unnamed developer, Forest City Ratner, that was among his clients.

It was about paying referral fees to now-disgraced Sen. Carl Kruger for clients Kruger directed his way, and then expecting Kruger to help him in Albany.

Though the indictment and legal complaint indicated that Kruger allocated $500,000 to a client of Lipsky--actually the allocation was at the request of Forest City Ratner executive Bruce Bender, but to his wife's charitable cause--there was no evidence of whether Kruger did so at Lipsky's request.

Lipsky, whose Neighborhood Retail Alliance blog was frozen after he was charged last March, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bribery and one count of bribery.

Though he faced a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense, Crain's reported that Lipsky made a deal with prosecutors to serve 57 to 71 months, or slightly less than five years, at best. He will be sentenced by Judge Jed Rakoff on May 4, 2012.


Related coverage...

The New York Times, Lobbyist Pleads Guilty to Paying Bribes to a State Senator

Over three decades, Richard J. Lipsky built a reputation as a staunch lobbyist for the underdog, even though his side did not always win and his clients were sometimes more establishment than mom-and-pop.

NoLandGrab: Yeah, underdogs like poor lil' Bruce Ratner, whom Lipsky defended from Daniel Goldstein Incorporated.

Crain's NY Business, Richard Lipsky admits guilt in bribery scandal

Forest City Ratner hired him in 2006 to advance its $5 billion Atlantic Yards megaproject in Brooklyn. A related corporate entity snagged him to pave the way for an East Harlem shopping mall anchored by a Target. The moves were widely attributed to the developer's desire to prevent Mr. Lipsky from stirring up and advocating for the little guys, his traditional constituency.

Brooklyn Daily, Lobbyist: I bribed Kruger

A deep-pocketed lobbyist who worked for Forest City Ratner Companies admitted to funneling more than $250,000 in bribes to former state Sen. Carl Kruger in an attempt to buy favor for his clients from the disgraced rep.

Richard Lipsky, who was employed by the developer of the Atlantic Yards arena and residential high-rise project for five years, told Manhattan Federal Judge Jed Rackoff that he had an “implicit agreement” with Kruger that payment to the senator — which he euphemized as “referral fees” — would benefit his clients.

One of his biggest clients was Forest City, which paid Lipsky $4,000 a month to help line up legislative support for its many real estate development projects. Forest City also paid him an additional $2,750 a month to promote the Atlantic Yards project.

The Wall Street Journal, Lobbyist Lipsky Admits to Bribery

"I acknowledge that my actions were in violation of the law and I knew that they crossed the line," Mr. Lipsky, 64 years old, said during the proceeding in federal court in Manhattan. "I accept responsibility for my conduct and incredibly poor judgment and I am truly sorry for the serious consequences to my family, my clients, the government, the court and the people of the state of New York."

City & State, Heard Around Town, Jan. 5, 2012

The crowd that gathered in Manhattan Federal Court yesterday to hear lobbyist Richard Lipsky plead guilty to two bribery charges was befitting a man who made more calls to reporters than perhaps any lobbyist in New York City history. Most of the two dozen people on hand to hear Lipsky confess were from the forth estate – and many, no doubt, had been bombarded with story pitches from Lipsky over the years. Even up to the time Lipsky ultimately agreed to his plea, he was relentlessly leading efforts to submarine the Willets Point development in Queens under a thinly veiled pseudonym. So what will Lipsky do with all that boundless energy in prison? As Lipsky and a small group of relatives descended in the courthouse elevator following his guilty plea, he for once had nothing to say.

Posted by eric at January 5, 2012 12:21 PM