April 4, 2013
In Albany’s second major corruption case this week, a New York State lawmaker was arrested on Thursday on federal charges of accepting bribes and another lawmaker was forced to resign for his part in the scheme to help developers open adult day care centers.
Assemblyman Eric A. Stevenson, a Democrat who represents some of the city’s poorest neighborhoods in the South Bronx, was accused of taking money to help several developers obtain building certificates, expedite construction work and recruit older people, according to a criminal complaint filed by the United States attorney in Manhattan. He is also accused of drafting legislation that would have prevented any new adult day care centers from opening in New York City with the express intention of helping the developers.
One other lawmaker was also implicated in wrongdoing, referred to only as Assemblyman-1 in the complaint since he entered into a non-prosecution deal for assisting in the investigation, which included an agreement to resign once the charges against Mr. Stevenson were unveiled.
That lawmaker was identified as Nelson L. Castro, 41, another Democrat from the Bronx, according to a person briefed on the matter.
Mr. Stevenson, 47, according to the complaint, was also accused of taking $5,000 to propose a moratorium on the construction of new adult day care centers in New York City, which would have given the developers he assisted a competitive advantage and greater profitability.
The charges against Mr. Stevenson came two days after a top lawmaker in Albany, Malcolm A. Smith was arrested in a sprawling and complex bribery and corruption scheme that involved a plot to buy a spot on the ballot in this year’s race for mayor of New York City. A city councilman, Daniel J. Halloran III, along with leaders of the Republican Party in the Bronx and Queens, were also charged in that case.
“For the second time in three days, we unseal criminal charges against a sitting member of our state legislature,” the United States attorney, Preet Bharara, said in a statement. “As alleged, Assemblyman Eric Stevenson was bribed to enact a statutory moratorium to give his co-defendants a local monopoly – a fairly neat trick that offends core principles of both democracy and capitalism, simultaneously, and it is exactly what the defendants managed to do. The allegations illustrate the corruption of an elected representative’s core function – a legislator selling legislation.”
Another unnamed confidential witness in the case against Mr. Stevenson was a candidate who ran unsuccessfully for an Assembly seat and worked with two developers, Igor Belyansky and Rostislav Belyansky, who were both charged in the conspiracy, along with two other men, David Binman and Igor Tsimerman. All four men are involved in running adult day centers in the Bronx.
With dozens of lawmakers in Albany arrested or charged with crimes in recent years, Mr. Stevenson was aware of the dangers of behaving in a corrupt manner yet still brazenly solicited bribes, according to the complaint.
In one conversation with the confidential witness, according to the complaint, Mr. Stevenson noted the recent arrests of other high-profile politicians and said, “Be careful of those things man, the recorders and all those things.”
The chief of staff for Mr. Castro would not confirm or deny that Mr. Castro was the assemblyman who had been cooperating with prosecutors. But the aide, Angelica Pascacio, said, “We’re going to be sending a statement by the end of the day.”
The complaint said that the unnamed assemblyman had been charged in a sealed indictment and had been cooperating in the investigation into Mr. Stevenson since before January 2012.
Mr. Stevenson, who was first elected to the Assembly in 2010, has deep roots in the Bronx community and is the scion of a family who has been involved in public service. His father, Edward A. Stevenson Jr., served as a district leader in the Bronx, and his grandfather, Edward A. Stevenson Sr., had the same seat Mr. Stevenson now holds in the Assembly.
Before winning his seat in Albany, Mr. Stevenson worked as a community coordinator for Fernando Ferrer, the former Bronx borough president. More recently, he worked for the City Council from 2007 to 2010, during Christine C. Quinn’s tenure as speaker, records show. According to his official biography on his Assembly Web site, he was “performing diligent legislative research” for the speaker. A spokesman for Ms. Quinn, who is now a leading candidate for mayor, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
The criminal complaint unsealed on Thursday painted a familiar narrative with lawmakers willing to use the power of their office to provide favors in exchange for money.
On April 27, 2012, the confidential witness met with Mr. Stevenson and discussed the various ways he could help the developers, who already operated several adult day care centers in the city and were looking to erect a new center on Jerome Avenue in the Bronx.
Mr. Stevenson was promised $10,000 for his assistance, according to the complaint.
At a meeting several weeks later, Mr. Stevenson discussed the arrest of another lawmaker, Pedro Espada Jr., on embezzlement charges, and the confidential witness told him that they needed to proceed with caution.
“When the money is good,” he said, “and you don’t get caught then you go and do it again, and you keep doing it again, again, again, that’s what happens.”
As the months passed, the developers continued to try to ingratiate themselves with Mr. Stevenson, proposing to name a new center after his grandfather and hanging a banner with his grandfather’s name outside one of their centers on Westchester Avenue.
Mr. Stevenson, according to the complaint, assured the confidential witness that he would help ease the process of getting building certificates and prod Consolidation Edison to do the needed work.
On Sept. 7, the confidential witness, along with Igor and Rostislav Belyansky, all gathered at a steakhouse in the Bronx.
The confidential witness, according to the complaint, recorded the meeting using both audio and video equipment.
“During the course of this meeting, Belyansky attempted to hand Stevenson Envelope-1 containing $10,000 in cash,” according to the complaint.
But Mr. Stevenson refused to take the envelope, indicating that he was concerned about the security cameras in the steakhouse.
“After they walked out of the restaurant, Belyansky handed Stevenson Envelope-1 containing $10,000 in cash,” according to the complaint.
After assisting the developers with their new adult day care center, the complaint said that Mr. Stevenson prepared legislation that would have effectively stopped any new adult day care centers from opening in the city, so that there would be no competition for the centers run by the Belyanskys, Mr. Tsimerman and Mr. Binman.
During a conversation recorded on Dec. 27, 2012, Mr. Stevenson told the confidential witness that he needed money for his inauguration celebration and “to feed all the people.”
He said that drafting favorable legislation would be no problem.
“I just need you to tell me what they want,” he said. “You can write down the language, basically what you want.”
Eric A. Stevenson was born on September 1966 according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eric_Stevenson
using the number/letter grid:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
A B C D E F G H I
J K L M N O P Q R
S T U V W X Y Z
A = 1 J = 1 S = 1
B = 2 K = 2 T = 2
C = 3 L = 3 U = 3
D = 4 M = 4 V = 4
E = 5 N = 5 W = 5
F = 6 O = 6 X = 6
G = 7 P = 7 Y = 7
H = 8 Q = 8 Z = 8
I = 9 R = 9
Eric A. Stevenson
his true character (EA) and his primary challenge (ES) both = 51 = Assemblyman. Get a lawyer. Anything he says or does can and will be used against him in a court of law.
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