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Battle in the Boogie Down
Bronx Assemblyman Eric Stevenson has been convicted on federal corruption charges, a spokesperson for U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara confirmed this evening.
Mr. Stevenson was convicted on four counts stemming from charges that he drafted legislation and performed official government services in exchange for more than $20,000 in cash bribes–the latest in a long string of corruption arrests hitting the state’s lawmakers.
Law & Order
Assemblyman Eric Stevenson, who is set to go on trial for corruption charges, may have some political problems, too.
The Bronx Democrat is likely to face several challengers this year if he chooses to seek re-election, and some of those candidates are already ramping up their operations, sources said.
a bronx tale
Three more businessmen have pleaded guilty to conspiring to bribe Bronx Assemblyman Eric Stevenson to pass favorable legislation, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara announced this evening.
Nelson Castro and Victor Pichardo have a few things in common. They’re both ambitious, Dominican-American and hand-picked candidates of the Bronx Democratic machine.
But Mr. Pichardo, 28, is hoping to traverse a very different path than Mr. Castro, the fallen former Bronx assemblyman revealed in April to have been a wired-up informant for almost his entire Albany tenure.
Forced to resign his West Bronx seat in April, Mr. Castro has created a rare open race in the borough where the diplomatic Mr. Pichardo, backed by the Bronx Democratic Party and powerful labor unions like the Hotel Trades Council, is poised to win in September.
Indicted Assemblyman Eric Stevenson will today lose his executive post with the Assembly’s Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Caucus, multiple sources told Politicker.
Mr. Stevenson, arrested in April for allegedly accepting $20,000 in bribes to steer legislation, is not seeking re-election as second vice president of the caucus. He must submit a letter of resignation to officially quit the caucus altogether, however.
State Senator Malcolm Smith, who has been accused of trying to bribe his way onto the ballot to run for mayor, has seemingly lost interest in the job.
“Right now I want to continue to do what I’m doing as state senator and try to do the best I can for the constituents that I’m still representing,” the embattled Queens lawmaker said when asked about his mayoral ambitions in a recent interview with CBS6 Albany.
It is a question few in the New York political establishment dare to ask publicly: is the seemingly endless string of indictments and arrests of elected officials a conspiracy against minorities in power?
But there was Queens State Sen. James Sanders Jr., bellowing in a theater with a preacher’s rhythm, more than implying last night that the recent arrests of black elected officials like Assemblyman Eric Stevenson, State Sen. Malcolm Smith and State Sen. John Sampson were not coincidental. Even State Sen. Shirley Huntley, who admitted to stealing funds earmarked for her district’s underprivileged children and was sentenced Thursday for her crimes, could have been linked to a conspiracy, Mr. Sanders said.
Ironically, Mr. Sanders defeated Ms. Huntley last year–after she was indicted–and took her seat in the State Senate.
Only a couple degrees of separation stand between Bronx Assemblyman Eric Stevenson, who was arrested and accused of corruption last week, and the infamous feud that led to the murders of hip-hop artists Tupac Shakur and Christopher “Notorious B.I.G” Wallace.
The connection begins with Khalil Abdullah, a Stevenson donor whose name and New Jersey hometown match that of a prominent cocaine trafficker who pleaded guilty in 2011. Additionally, The Smoking Gun reported that Mr. Abdullah shared an address with a celebrity hair stylist whose one-time “High Street” address is indeed the same as the contribution’s. Multiple phone calls to individuals associated with the address and Mr. Abdullah’s past reached numbers that were no longer in service.
Governor Andrew Cuomo is not happy about the barrage of corruption charges hitting various New York lawmakers throughout the week, including State Senator Malcolm Smith, City Councilman Dan Halloran and Assemblyman Eric Stevenson. Accordingly, Mr. Cuomo released a statement this afternoon detailing his disgust.
“The allegations of public corruption by City and State officials revealed this week are appalling,” the governor declared.
As expected, Bronx Assemblyman Nelson Castro, who wore a wire to help indict his colleague, Eric Stevenson, announced his resignation today. Stepping down from office, in addition to cooperating with federal authorities, were steps he took in order to avoid prosecution himself.
“Today I announce that I am resigning my seat in the New York State Assembly, effective Monday, April 8, 2013,” Mr. Castro said in the statement, which can be viewed in full below. “On July 31, 2009, I was indicted by a Bronx County Grand Jury for committing perjury in a 2008 civil matter, held prior to my election to the Assembly. I appreciate the seriousness of my misconduct. Thereafter, I agreed to cooperate with …. various investigations aimed at rooting out public corruption.”