Three NYC police officers, consultant charged in federal corruption probe

NYPD Corruption Probe Arrests
NYPD Corruption Probe Arrests

NEW YORK, June 20 (Reuters) - Three New York City police commanders and a business consultant were arrested on Monday as part of a wide-ranging federal corruption probe that has also been examining Mayor Bill de Blasio's fundraising activities.

A criminal complaint filed in Manhattan federal court accused businessman Jeremy Reichberg, 42, of plying two senior officers - Deputy Chief Michael Harrington, 50, and Deputy Inspector James Grant, 43 - with costly gifts including prostitutes, Super Bowl tickets and expensive trips overseas.

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As a result, Reichberg was able to secure official favors, including assistance with gun license applications and police escorts, and influence over personnel decisions such as the promotion of certain officers, according to the complaint.

David Villanueva, 42, a sergeant, was also charged on Monday with accepting thousands of dollars in bribes to expedite gun license applications for Alex Lichtenstein, a member of a volunteer safety patrol in an Orthodox Jewish neighborhood who was charged in April with the same scheme.

A lawyer for Reichberg did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Lawyers for the police officers could not immediately be identified.

The arrests came two weeks after federal prosecutors charged Norman Seabrook, the politically influential president of the city's correction officers union, and Murray Huberfeld, a hedge fund financier, as part of the same investigation.

Reichberg, who is affiliated with a company called JR Consultants, and a real estate investor, Jona Rechnitz, have been at the center of the corruption probe. Both men were de Blasio fundraisers and served as members of his inaugural committee in 2013.

Rechnitz, who prosecutors said also provided gifts to police in exchange for favors, has pleaded guilty and is cooperating with investigators, people familiar with the matter have said.

De Blasio has repeatedly said he and his administration have acted legally in all respects. He has not been accused of wrongdoing, and the charges unsealed thus far against several individuals are unrelated to any of his fundraising efforts.