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March 20, 2012

Rashomon at Ridge Hill: divergent conclusions drawn by opposing sides in Yonkers corruption trial; also, the "sugar daddy" excuse and questions about Forest City's ethics

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder reports on the closing arguments in the Ridge Hill corruption trial — and promises further updates.

Call it Rashomon at Ridge Hill--and beyond.

After a month of testimony, closing arguments capped the Yonkers corruption trial yesterday, with a prosecutor and a defense attorney weaving dramatically different conclusions from the same sets of facts, notably a seven-year stream of payments from Yonkers political fixer Zehy Jereis to his "political creation," friend, and purported object of desire, Council Member Sandy Annabi.

"He got paid, and she got paid, and nobody was supposed to know," contended Assistant U.S. Attorney Perry Carbone, arguing that Jereis's payments were made to reward Annabi, and influence her, as opportunities arose, even if not tied to specific votes.

That, Carbone suggested, led to her changed votes to support Forest City Ratner's Ridge Hill project and Milio Management's Longfellow project. Jereis later got a no-show job from Forest City Ratner and (they say) got a bribe from Milio.

Meanwhile, the attorney for Annabi, William Aronwald, said that Annabi extracted concessions from the developers and contended there was no evidence that the payments to her were "a result of an understanding that, in exchange, she would perform official acts, at Zehy Jereis's behest, as opportunities arose."

After nearly five hours of closing arguments in the Lower Manhattan courtroom, the jury got to go home. In the morning, Jereis's attorney, Anthony Siano, will offer his closing arguments, surely slashing at prosecution witness Anthony Mangone, an admitted liar who said he delivered a bribe from the Longfellow developers to Jereis.

Prosecutors will then get a short rebuttal. And U.S. District Judge Colleen McMahon will then offer jury instructions.

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Posted by eric at March 20, 2012 10:57 PM