No verdict yet in trial of ex-NYC jail guards union boss
NEW YORK (AP) — A jury began deliberating Wednesday in the bribery trial of the former head of the nation’s largest municipal jail guard union, but it went home after several hours of work.
The Manhattan federal court jury deliberated about four hours after it was read instructions on the law in the case against Norman Seabrook, 57, and hedge fund financier Murray Huberfeld.
It asked to see several key pieces of evidence when it returns to work Thursday, including the entire multi-day testimony by the government’s star witness, real estate developer Jona Rechnitz, 34, a Los Angeles resident.
Rechnitz testified that he gave Seabrook $60,000 in a black Ferragamo bag as an initial payment on the $100,000 to $150,000 he said he told Seabrook he would receive annually in return for steering millions in union funds to Huberfeld’s hedge fund.
Lawyers for Seabrook and Huberfeld attacked the credibility of Rechnitz at trial, saying the witness was willing to say anything to win leniency after he pleaded guilty to criminal charges in the case.
The jury signaled that a verdict was not imminent when it asked for a considerable amount of evidence. Besides, Rechnitz’s testimony, it also requested a list of items taken from Seabrook’s home after his arrest and a copy of the closing arguments by attorneys in the case. Because they are not considered evidence, transcripts of the closing arguments will not be given to the jury.
Lawyers for both defendants say their clients acted honestly and legally while Rechnitz was a con man and a liar.
They said prosecutors errored by relying on the testimony by Rechnitz, who recounted from the witness stand how he used donations and an ever widening sphere of influence to win favor from top city police officials and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat who was re-elected Tuesday.
Mayoral spokesman Eric Phillips has called Rechnitz a liar and a “failed fixer of grand delusion just trying to save his own skin.”