Orthodox Jewish Businessman Sentenced to Four Years in Prison for Bribery in NYPD Case

According to testimony, Jeremy Reichberg lavished New York police officers with gifts in exchange for favors, directed an associate to hire a prostitute for police officers on flight to Las Vegas

Brooklyn businessman Jeremy Reichberg, right, leaves Manhattan federal court in New York, June 20, 2016.
Larry Neumeister,AP

NEW YORK — Jewish American businessman Jeremy Reichberg, convicted on several counts of bribery last January, was sentenced to four years in federal prison on Monday.

Manhattan Federal District Court found Reichberg guilty on four counts of bribery and conspiracy to commit honest services fraud involving police officials.

The case had cast a shadow over City Hall and the New York Police Department in recent months, and had threatened to stain the reputation of New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, who previously received donations from Reichberg, who also acted as a fundraiser for the mayor.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Judge Gregory Woods, who presided over the case, described Reichberg’s offense as “more than dollars and cents."

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According to the report, Reichberg made a tearful plea for leniency before being sentenced.

“It is about the corruption of a powerful public institution,” Judge Woods responded.

In addition to his prison sentence, Reichberg was ordered to pay a $50,000 fine and serve two years' probation.

Although the Brooklyn-based Reichberg has been described as a businessman, his professional activities remain largely unclear. According to the New York Times, prosecutors called the former Borough Park police liaison a “fix-it” guy who leveraged his relations with police officials to provide services to others.

He was accused of showering police officers with gifts in exchange for favors, such as illegally obtained gun permits, ticket-fixing, parking privileges and police escorts around city traffic, including a ride to a barbecue via a police boat.

The original trial, which unfolded over nearly eight weeks, attracted greater media attention due to Reichberg’s co-defendant: NYPD Deputy Inspector James Grant. He was acquitted of illegally receiving gifts when the jury decided the evidence against him was not strong enough to convict. The defense had said the gifts were just a case of a friend helping a friend.

Reichberg’s conviction relied mainly on testimony from his former business associate, Jona Rechnitz, who designated him as “the money man” in bribing the officers, local media reported.

During the trial, Rechnitz recounted how, at Reichberg’s behest, he had spent nearly $60,000 on a private jet to fly Grant and other police officers to Las Vegas during the Super Bowl weekend in January 2013. There, he hired a prostitute to dress as a flight attendant and sleep with the officers during the flight.

Rechnitz also told the court how he and Reichberg had dressed as Santa Claus to deliver gifts to high-ranking police officials on Christmas Day in 2013.

He further recounted how Reichberg had lavished another NYPD chief, Philip Banks III, with gifts — allegedly including an trip to Israel. Banks, who resigned from the force in 2014, has not been charged with any criminal wrongdoing.

The son of a real estate developer, Los Angeles-based Rechnitz has been a star witness in several corruption cases, including a 2016-2017 federal investigation into de Blasio’s fundraising practices.

It was while cooperating as a witness in that investigation that Rechnitz revealed how Reichberg once used his police connections to get part of the Lincoln Tunnel shut for Lev Leviev, the “diamond king” who heads international real estate firm Africa Israel.

De Blasio was forced to defend himself after Rechnitz claimed he had managed to buy his way into City Hall, with the mayor rejecting any allegations of wrongdoing. He stressed in several local media interviews that he had very limited contact with Rechnitz and did not know him well.