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February 29, 2012

Ridge Hill trial: Forest City execs pushed payment for no-show job despite internal resistance; prosecution's case complicated by Bender's agreement that developer convinced Annabi to switch vote

Atlantic Yards Report

Is it us, or does it seem as if Federal prosecutors are using the whopper (or, more like the tellers of whoppers) to catch the bait? Here's must-read trial coverage from Norman Oder.

In the third and likely final day in which Forest City Ratner (ex-)employees testified in the Yonkers corruption case, a federal jury yesterday heard more evidence that the developer had behaved in a questionable manner.

After all, testimony yesterday indicated that Forest City executives had no problem with Zehy Jereis's seemingly no-show job and, even though he hadn't submitted required monthly reports and a lower-level employee had raised a red flag, two of the firm's top government relations executives, Bruce Bender and Scott Cantone, ordered that he be paid $15,000.

But the developer's not on trial, and the jury might now be wondering why Jereis and Sandy Annabi face corruption charges, while Forest City, the beneficiary of Annabi's changed vote to green-light the Ridge Hill project, is unscathed. (Jurors of course can be instructed to address only the culpability of the defendants, not any other parties.)


Related coverage...

The Journal News, Yonkers builder Franco Milio says $30G paid to Mangone to get Longfellow deal OK'd

A Yonkers businessman testified Tuesday that his lawyer persuaded him in 2006 to pay $30,000 so then-Councilman Sandy Annabi would stop opposing his land-swap deal and let his development of the Longfellow School property proceed.

Franco Milio told a federal jury that his father, Antonio, ended up paying the money to lawyer Anthony Mangone after Mangone introduced him to Annabi’s cousin, Zehy Jereis, and then told Milio the payment was “to get the approval done.”

Mangone, who was disbarred last year, was indicted along with Annabi and Jereis on bribery and extortion charges but has since pleaded guilty and is expected to testify against the pair.

Posted by eric at February 29, 2012 9:57 AM