City Parking Official Charged With Extortion
NEW YORK (AP) _ A deputy director of the city’s Parking Violations Bureau has been charged with extortion for allegedly accepting a payoff from an agency that collected fines for the city, authorities say.
Geoffrey Lindenauer, 52, was arrested Tuesday and suspended from his job Wednesday.
In a complaint filed in federal court, prosecutors said Lindenauer accepted $5,000 on Nov. 26 from the president of an agency that had a contract with the Parking Violations Bureau to collect fines.
But Assistant U.S. Attorney Mary Shannon said in court that the case went far beyond the single alleged payoff from Bernard Sandow, the president of Systematic Recovery Services Inc.
″The government has reason to believe that Mr. Lindenauer has received several such payments from Mr. Sandow and others over the last few years, amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash bribes,″ Ms. Shannon told a magistrate.
Lindenauer’s lawyer, Irving Seidman, described his client as ″a model citizen.″ He said Ms. Shannon’s remarks were ″unfortunate, inaccurate statements.″
Under the federal Hobbs Act, any receipt of an illegal payment by a public official can be classified as extortion regardless of whether the official demands the money or merely accepts a bribe. Violations of the Hobbs Act carry penalties of up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Authorities said other collection agencies and other city workers may be implicated.
″It is reasonable to assume there will be other defendants,″ said John L. Hogan, assistant director of the FBI’s New York office. He urged other officials to come forward if they were involved.
Within hours, city officials, citing a recommendation from the city’s Department of Investigation, announced the immediate replacement of the bureau’s director, Lester N. Shafran, two weeks before he was to leave the job.
Lindenauer, a Queens resident, was considered an associate of Queens Borough President Donald Manes, and Manes recently suggested that Lindenauer become director of the bureau upon Shafran’s retirement, according to Mayor Edward I. Koch.
Manes has been hospitalized since he was stopped for driving erratically early Friday. He was bleeding heavily from cuts on his wrist and ankle and reportedly suffered a heart attack upon reaching the hospital.
Authorities are investigating Manes’ report that he was cut after being abducted by two men, whom he could not describe, during what he believed to be a robbery.
The Daily News today quoted a federal source as saying that investigators in the Manes case are seeking clues from some Parking Violations officials about the slashing.