Ex-union boss at Rikers Island prison, convicted of corruption

NEW YORK – A former union boss, who was once considered the king of New York City’s prisons may be headed to federal prison.

A jury in Manhattan Wednesday convicted Norman Seabrook, the former head of the union representing guards at the troubled Rikers Island jail complex, of honest services wire fraud and conspiracy.

Seabrook maintains he is innocent of charges that he accepted $ 60,000 in bribes in exchange for investing millions of dollars in union pension money into a risky hedge fund.

For two decades, Seabrook was the head of the New York City Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association and was a powerful figure in politics. Some administrators said his control of the prison rivalled their own.

Seabrook was convicted, partly on the testimony of the man who persuaded him to invest in the hedge fund managed by Platinum ners. That testimony, Jona Rechnitz, who was also a generous political donor to the Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio, told jurors he spoke to Seabrook in the investment on a free trip to the Dominican Republic, later transferred $60,000 in a designer bag.

Lawyer Paul Shechtman told the jury members that Rechnitz was a world-class liar.

“If they have a Nobel prize for manipulation, Jona Rechnitz would be a receiver,” Shechtman said. “You can blame Norman Seabrook for fall for Jona Rechnitz the law.”

Assistant district Attorney of the V. S. Martin Bell called “multiple independent sources, including the telephone and the bank details to confirm Rechnitz’s story.

Seabrook, 58, was charged in 2016. His first trial ended with a deadlocked jury, and the prosecutor to try him again. Jury deliberations in his retrial began Tuesday.

Members of the jury initially delivered a split verdict Wednesday, sentencing of Seabrook of honest services fraud, but telling the judge they were deadlocked on the conspiracy charges. But after further deliberations, they came back with a guilty verdict on the conspiracy count later Wednesday.

Rikers is a long time seen as plagued by violence among prisoners, excessive use of force by the guards and preventable prisoner deaths. A Ministry of Justice research shows that in 2014 that there was a pattern of excessive force that violated the rights of the adolescent prisoners. City officials are closing the prison and to replace it by smaller institutions that they hope that the more humane.

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