The year 2018 saw the indictment, conviction and sentences of plenty of organized labor scams. New York City played host to some of the largest. For sheer magnitude, nothing anywhere could match the network of union fraud surrounding the construction of Hudson Yards, a large-scale, mixed-use development on Manhattan’s West Side. Set for completion in 2024, the project from the start has been a source of easy money for labor organizations affiliated with the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York. The general contractor, Related Companies, having reached the limits of frustration, filed suit last March with the State Supreme Court against the council and its president for promoting or allowing illegal practices that allegedly have added over $100 million to the total project cost.
Norman Seabrook once represented guards at Rikers Island, one of the nation’s toughest city jails. He now likely will do some serious prison time. On August 15, Seabrook (in photo), former longtime president of New York City’s Correction Officers Benevolent Association (COBA), was found guilty by a Manhattan federal jury of honest services fraud and conspiracy related to a $60,000 bribe he had taken a few years earlier from the head of a now-bankrupt hedge fund in return for steering $20 million in COBA assets to the fund. The hedge fund CEO, Murray Huberfeld, and his emissary, Jona Rechnitz, already had pleaded guilty. Seabrook’s previous trial ended in a hung jury last November. “I will be vindicated because God is still on his throne,” said Seabrook after his conviction, vowing to appeal. Sentencing is set for November 30.
Murray Huberfeld had something on his mind other than front row seats at New York Knicks home games. That’s why he’s headed for prison. On May 25, Huberfeld, founder and head of a now-defunct hedge fund, pleaded guilty in Manhattan federal court to wire fraud conspiracy in connection with his payment of a $60,000 bribe through an intermediary to Norman Seabrook, deposed longtime president of New York City’s Correction Officers Benevolent Association (COBA), which represents employees at the sprawling Rikers Island jail complex. In exchange for the bribe, Seabrook allegedly had steered $20 million in COBA pension funds to the hedge fund, known as Platinum Partners. Huberfeld is scheduled for sentencing on September 14. Seabrook is set to go on trial on July 30.
It wasn’t as if Norman Seabrook needed the money. But in accepting it, he jeopardized the retirement of union members. Last Wednesday, June 8, Seabrook, president of New York City’s Correction Officers Benevolent Association (COBA), was arrested by FBI agents and charged with honest services fraud for receiving $60,000 in cash from an executive of a troubled Manhattan hedge fund, Platinum Partners, in exchange for steering $20 million in union pension money to the fund. Platinum Partners CEO Murray Huberfeld was similarly charged. Seabrook is out on $250,000 bond, but given his ouster by the COBA board, he doesn’t have much to do. U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara (in photo) termed this “a straightforward and explicit bribery scheme.” The actions are part of a wider probe into NYPD corruption.
The Correction Officers Benevolent Association, with more than 9,000 members, is the largest union of its type in the country. And most … Read More ➡