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March 30, 2012

Local fallout regarding Yonkers trial: newspaper laments corruption, columnist argues that, in the end, Ridge Hill is good for Yonkers

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder rounds up some of the media coverage of yesterday's guilty verdicts in the Forest City-tainting Yonkers corruption trial.

The Journal News has a good package of articles and commentary (and video) responding to yesterday's convictions, on all counts, of former City Council Member Sandy Annabi and her political mentor, Zehy Jereis.

The editorial, Annabi trial ends, but corruption will linger, stated:

The smitten-cousin defense, novel and intriguing as it was, ultimately was no match for common sense, or the Rolex watch, car payments, airfare, cash or other valuables that moved between former Yonkers Councilwoman Sandy Annabi and her distant cousin, one-time Yonkers Republican Party Chairman Zehy Jereis, convicted Thursday of all charges in their federal corruption trial.

There was some plausibility to that defense, actually, given that Jereis also went through a dramatic personal makeover, including a 150-pound weight loss, which he said was motivated by his desire for Annabi.

Then again, as prosecutors pointed out, the checks to Annabi came from a joint account Jereis shared with his wife, while he and Annabi talked 81 times on "job fair day" and only four times on Valentine's Day.

Very confusing. Could it be that Jereis had the hots for Annabi and also wanted to influence her, and/or she treated him as a "sugar daddy" but also took his political advice? If so, that's still basis for guilt, prosecutors said, since friendship doesn't get you off the hook.

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Related coverage...

The Journal News, Editorial: Annabi trial ends, but corruption will linger

At trial, evidence shows numerous financial transactions between Annabi and Jereis, her campaign manager during her successful run for council in November 2001. He later received a no-show job with Forest City Ratner, developer of Ridge Hill. Prosecutors said developers worked through Jereis to control Annabi’s votes.

The Journal News, Yonkers corruption trial: History of payments and projects

The Journal News, Annabi, Jereis convicted on all bribe, corruption counts

The two defendants stood with their hands clasped before them and showed no emotion as the jury foreman read the guilty verdicts. Neither would comment afterward, but their attorneys – William Aronwald for Annabi and Anthony Siano for Jereis – said they were disappointed. They said that if McMahon does not set aside the verdict, they would appeal based on what they said was the insufficiency of the government’s evidence.

NoLandGrab: The jury seemed to think the evidence was plenty sufficient.

The Journal News, 'Slam dunk' verdict called 'turning point' for Yonkers

“This says, very clearly and very loudly, ‘If you are elected, you are entrusted with public dollars — and if you are in any way complicit in taking illegal gifts, you will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” [Yonkers Mayor Mike] Spano said.

NLG: Who wants to bet those words will come back to bite Mike Spano in the you-know-what someday?

The Journal News, Reisman: On Ridge Hill, Annabi's vote was right for Yonkers

NLG: Right? Wrong! And who wants to bet those words will come back to bite Phil Reisman in the you-know-what someday?

NY Daily News, Disgraced ex-Yonkers City Councilwoman convicted of taking bribes for vote on proposed $600M development project

A $600 million mega-project developer Bruce Ratner wanted to build in Yonkers was approved after a former Yonkers City Councilwoman dropped her opposition to the deal in exchange for bribes, a Manhattan Federal Court jury found Thursday.

The Local [Fort Greene/Clinton Hill], The Day: There’s Nothing Like a Church Fish Fry

By no measure was yesterday a good day for Barclays Center developer Bruce Ratner and his Forest City Ratner Companies, thanks to a federal jury ruling that now links the developer’s Ridge Hill project to corruption in Yonkers, New York Magazine’s Norman Oder reports. Neither Mr. Ratner nor his company was charged with any shenanigans, but Forest City did hire one of the convicted conspirators, Zehy Jereis, for a no-show job after he allegedly helped lobby then-City Councilwoman Sandy Annabi to support the Forest City project.

WNYC, Romance Didn’t Motivate Bribes Between Yonkers Councilwoman, Associate: Jury

Posted by eric at March 30, 2012 10:58 AM