There’s yet another corruption trial going on in New York City (which basically means that this must be a month with a vowel in it) but this one has offered a bit of a twist. Former NYPD Deputy Inspector James Grant is facing trial for accepting gifts and compensation (featuring hookers) in exchange for abusing his office and performing certain “favors” for political donors who wanted access to Bill de Blasio’s administration. Key in this trial will be the testimony of Jona Rechnitz, one of the aforementioned generous donors who has already pleaded guilty to buying influence by contributing to the Mayor’s campaign and other non-profit, election groups.
Rechnitz has confessed and gone on record saying that he was doing that sort of business with City Hall, and de Blasio responded by calling him a liar, a felon and “just a horrible human being.” Grant apparently feels that de Blasio is just the sort of character witness he needs to discredit Rechnitz’ testimony, so they’ve served the Mayor up with a subpoena to come to repeat his claims in front of a jury. (NY Post)
A former NYPD official wants to force Mayor Bill de Blasio to testify on his behalf when he goes on trial in a hooker-fueled corruption case next week.
Lawyers for ex-Deputy Inspector James Grant served a subpoena on City Hall on Tuesday to force de Blasio to take the witness stand for the defense in Manhattan federal court.
Defense lawyer John Meringolo said de Blasio could help Grant by impugning the credibility of Jona Rechnitz, a former de Blasio donor who’s pleaded guilty to conspiracy and is set to serve as a key prosecution witness.
“[De Blasio] has publicly stated that Mr. Rechnitz is a felon and a liar, so who better than the mayor of New York City to attest to Mr. Rechnitz’ character?” he said.
This is precisely the sort of public exposure that the Mayor doesn’t need and will attempt to avoid at all costs. Much like Governor Andrew Cuomo in Albany, de Blasio has witnessed a number of people with close ties to his campaigns winding up on trial or in prison on corruption charges while he somehow manages to avoid having a set of handcuffs slapped on him personally.
Keep in mind that de Blasio has already had to fend off one indicted donor who alleges that he informed the Mayor he would need to violate campaign finance laws to get the amount of money de Blasio wanted and was told, “you gotta do what you gotta do.” Another donor pleaded guilty and was convicted of bribing the Mayor, though somehow the person allegedly accepting the bribe wasn’t charged with anything.
Getting dragged into court to help out Grant will require the Mayor to personally get in there and start answering questions when he’d obviously prefer to be left as far away from the spectacle as possible. But can he really afford to refuse? The prosecutorial sharks are circling and they clearly smell blood in the water. If de Blasio refuses to go help out Grant, what other interesting stories might the defendant decide to share? He’s clearly been on the inside for a quite a while and likely knows where all the bodies are figuratively buried. (Or we can at least hope it’s “figuratively.”)
We’ll keep tabs on this one for you because it could become extremely entertaining. If Mayor Bill de Blasio has to take the stand in a corruption trial involving his own administration it should be worthy of national news.