NYC Corruption Trial Begins Today
NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) _ A powerful New York City Democrat and four co-defendants go on trial in federal court in a case stemming from the city’s worst corruption scandal in decades.
Bronx Democratic Chairman Stanley Friedman, one of the city’s most powerful political bosses, and the others are accused of turning the city’s Parking Violations Bureau into a racketeering enterprise that solicited and accepted bribes.
Another top politician implicated in the case, Queens borough president Donald Manes, killed himself March 13 as the scandal was reaching its height. He is listed as an unindicted co-conspirator.
Jury selection begins today in the trial, which is expected to last two months. It was moved to New Haven because of extensive publicity.
The case is expected to hinge on the testimony of former parking bureau Deputy Director Geoffrey Lindenauer, who has already pleaded guilty to two counts of a 39-count indictment charging he collected more than $400,000 from companies the city hired to collect overdue parking fines.
″If Lindenauer doesn’t come across well on the stand, the government has no case. That’s what it boils down to,″ said Thomas Puccio, Friedman’s attorney. Lindenauer, Manes and Friedman are accused of taking almost $280,000 each in stock from Citisource Inc., which in turn received a $22.7 million parking bureau contract.
Friedman allegedly paid the other two off in order for Citisource to win its bid to produce hand-held computers for city parking-ticket writers.
Friedman has steadfastly maintained his innocence and ignored calls from Mayor Edward I. Koch and other Democratic officials to step down from his party post.
After being overwhelmingly chosen by Bronx Democratic officials for another term as party leader Wednesday night, Friedman again asserted his innocence and ripped the media attention given the case.
The scandal erupted in January with allegations about the parking bureau but has grown to include charges involving the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission and Heath and Hospitals Corporation.
Friedman is not involved in these aspects of the scandal, but faces separate state charges stemming from the parking bureau allegations.
Friedman’s co-defendants are Marvin Kaplan, chairman of Citisource; Marvin Bergman, an associate of Manes; Lester Shafran, former director of the PVB; and Michael J. Lazar, a businessman who was city transportation commissioner in the 1970s.