Forest City Ratner, the developer behind the Echo Bay Redevelopment Project in New Rochelle, has been implicated in a scheme to bribe former Yonkers City Councilwoman Sandy Annabi. The one time Democratic Majority Leader of the Yonkers City Council turned herself into the FBI in White Plains this morning. She has been accused of receiving more than $160,000 In secret payments to change her votes on to Yonkers development projects. The Indictment also charges Zehy Jereis, the former head of the Yonkers Republican Party, and Anthony Mangone a Westchester County attorney, with conspiracy, bribery, and extortion in connection with two real estate development projects within the City of Yonkers which were pending before Annabi..
Since at least 2004, ANNABI has received from JEREIS, MANGONE, and others more than $160,000 worth of secret payments designed to influence and reward her for favorable official action or inaction on matters pending before the City Council as specific opportunities arose. ANNABI, JEREIS, and MANGONE also took various steps to conceal their scheme, by making false statements and/or omitting required information in various reporting documents.
Former Yonkers City Councilwoman Sandy Annabi Allegedly Received More Than $160,000 In Secret Payments; Defendants Charged With Conspiracy, Bribery, Extortion, False Statements, and Tax Crimes
The “Ridge Hill Development Project” was a project proposed by a large developer (“Developer No. 2”) to develop an 81-acre tract of land to establish retail shopping, restaurants, office space, hundreds of residential housing units, and a hotel and conference center.
The “Longfellow Project” was a project proposed by a developer to develop a tract of land located partially within the Yonkers City Council District represented by ANNABI by renovating and transforming two vacant and dilapidated schools into market-rate housing ()
The Yonkers Tribune reported on the budding investigation in May 2008: U.S. Investigates Yonkers Development After Official’s Surprising ‘Yes’ Vote
To the political and legal cognoscenti in Yonkers, the length and breadth of the inquiry suggests that it must extend beyond Ms. Annabi’s about-face, and perhaps far beyond Yonkers’ 18 square miles to some of Westchester County’s leading power brokers.
Investigators have inquired about Zehy Jereis, the former chairman of the Republican Party here and a distant relative of Ms. Annabi’s — and subpoenaed his financial disclosure forms, though city officials said they had none to turn over. Prosecutors have asked about Albert J. Pirro Jr., a former lobbyist for Forest City Ratner and the estranged husband of Westchester’s former district attorney, Jeanine F. Pirro.
And they have also questioned whether former State Senator Nicholas A. Spano, whose ability to find money in Albany for Yonkers has long made him a Republican legend, or his brother Mike Spano, a Democratic assemblyman who worked as a lobbyist for Ratner between terms in Albany, exerted any undue influence.
The Yonkers City web site offers a this bit of irony in Annabi’s official bio:
Majority Leader Sandy Annabi was born in Yonkers, New York to parents of Jordanian descent. As an alumna of Catholic schools, she went on to graduate from Iona College in 1992, earning a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Criminal Justice. Sandy maintained a position on the Dean’s List throughout her years at Iona College. During her senior year at Iona, Sandy participated in an internship program with the Westchester County Probation Department. It is at this time that Sandy developed a love for government and a passion for service.
Sounds like the internship will be put to good use someday. Maybe they will make a movie…