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Monday, September 22, 2014

Bronx politician made bribery deal at Jake’s

By Adam Wisnieski
Posted

Bronx elected officials have joined the party.

Two days after Queens representatives state Sen. Malcolm Smith and Councilman Daniel Halloran were indicted for their roles in a bribery scheme, authorities arrested Bronx state Sen. Eric Stevenson for taking bribes in exchange for legislative favors. 

The feds caught Mr. Stevenson with the aid of Bronx Assemblyman Nelson Castro, who has been wearing a wire since 2009, after he was caught perjuring himself while facing voter fraud charges. Mr. Castro resigned from office on Monday.

Though the Bronx has gained a reputation as the red-hot center of political corruption in New York — at least over the last decade — the borough was largely left out of the first scandal announced last week. Only a Bronx Republican Party chairman was involved in Mr. Smith’s seemingly delusional bribery scheme.

The second scandal, which involved a payoff on a Riverdale sidewalk, fixed that. 

On Sept. 7, Mr. Stevenson met with Igor Belyansky and Rostislav Belyansky at Jake’s Steakhouse on Broadway. Inside the restaurant, Mr. Stevenson promised the Belyanskys he would help expedite the installation of a gas line at their Jerome Avenue adult day care center, help recruit seniors to another of their centers on Westchester Avenue and help the men obtain a Certificate of Occupancy from the Department of Buildings. A cooperating witness recorded the meeting, both on audio and video devices. Inside the restaurant, Mr. Belyansky attempted to hand Mr. Stevenson an envelope containing $10,000. But Mr. Stevenson did not accept it, citing concerns about security cameras inside Jake’s. So the group walked outside, where Mr. Belyansky handed Mr. Stevenson the envelope.

Law enforcement officers say they observed the exchange from an unmarked car.

Later, the men paid Mr. Stevenson to introduce a bill in the Assembly that would place a moratorium on new adult day care centers, which would help the Belyanskys’ centers thrive, according to the complaint. Mr. Stevenson introduced the bill in February.

Bronx elected officials have reacted to the corruption charge in different ways.

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