Friday, July 18, 2014

Will New York Crooked Politician Jeffrey Klein Be Hoist On His Own Petard?


When the Watergate scandal started unfolding, the Nixon White House plan of action was to keep responsibility and accountability as far from Nixon as possible. G. Gordon Liddy was certifiably insane and was never going talk and even relished the idea of being tortured so he would be able to stand up to it. The rest of the hands-on-crew were offered immense sums of money to accept jail sentences which they were assured would be dealt with through executive clemency after "a short time" while their families were well taken care of and and with good jobs waiting for them after prison. Rick Perlstein's new book, The Invisible Bridge, chronicles the unraveling of that strategy, starting with ex-CIA and FBI agent James McCord and culminating in the revelations of White House counsel John Dean that led directly to a virtual plea bargain to keep Nixon out of prison while getting him out of the White House.

But criminally-minded conservatives never learn and all think they can beat the system. When the criminal secrets of crooked Republicacrat state Senator from the Bronx, Jeffrey Klein, started coming out in the press, he dealt with it the same way any junior-league Richard Nixon would: buying off the witnesses. Many people have wondered why, exactly, Klein hired NY Post writer Candice Giove as his deputy director communications director after she started exposing his criminal activities in the press.

A cancer on New York's dysfunctional political system, Klein is a sociopathic wheeler-dealer flitting back and forth between the corrupt Republicans and the corrupt Democrats in Albany. Most recently he made a deal with Cuomo and the rest of the transactional corrupt Albany Dems to come back into their fold. Before that though, writing with Isabel Vincent, Brad Hamilton and Michael Gartland, Giove spilled the beans on Klein's nature in a March 2012 article, "Coldblooded Pol's Ethics Gap." Klein is graphically portrayed as a large iguana and the article begins with an immediate attack on his character: "He’s as slippery as his pet iguana," wrote his future staffer.
State Sen. Jeffrey Klein has for years tried to project the image of an independent, incorruptible watchdog-- fiercely protecting his constituents from subprime lenders, foreclosing banks and shady Albany politics. He even led a rebellion against his own party, creating an independent conference of four dissatisfied Democrats.

But like his illegal reptilian pet, the Bronx lawmaker’s pattern of behavior is far more slick than his shining public persona.

Klein has gamed the system-- and possibly broken the law-- for years, thumbing his nose at city zoning regulations, getting tax breaks he isn’t entitled to, and failing to disclose his assets to state officials. His ethical breaches range from a dubious mortgage and scandal-scarred political donors to questionable court appointments and renting his Senate office from a firm with alleged mob ties.

Among the highlights:
In 2005, Klein and law partners Dominick Calderoni and Fred Santucci Jr. took out a $450,000 mortgage to buy a two-family home on Williamsbridge Road in the Morris Park section of The Bronx. They applied for a residential mortgage knowing the property would be used for commercial purposes. The trio immediately turned the two-story building into a law office, ignoring the zoning code despite signing a mortgage mandating that they “comply with all laws.”

The city slapped the firm with a violation and fine for “illegal use in residential district.” The firm ignored the city directive to “discontinue illegal use.”

There is no certificate of occupancy for the home, which is required when work is done on older homes.

The property had a STAR tax exemption for two years, a break given only to a primary residence. Klein got the same break on his actual Bronx home during one of those years.

The law office was improperly taxed at a lower residential rate for seven years, saving the firm tens of thousands of dollars.

Klein failed to reveal his ownership of the home, and two mortgages on it, on his yearly state financial disclosure forms-- a possible breach of the state Public Officers Law.

Klein accepted a $4,500 campaign contribution in 2006 from Edul Ahmad, a Queens real-estate agent indicted last year in a $50 million mortgage fraud scheme.

The lawmaker moved his district office to the Hutchinson Metro Park, an office complex owned by Hutch Realty Partners, which has contributed more than $30,000 to Klein’s campaign coffers. Two of its owners, Michael Contillo and Joseph Deglomini, were indicted along with a mobster in a 1990s racketeering case.

Klein has raked in $166,974 since 2003 through 43 separate appointments as a legal guardian, referee and other court-appointed jobs. Most of the appointments came through the Appellate Division’s Second Department on Long Island, 18 miles from his Bronx office, where his partner Santucci’s father was a justice.

Klein put Calderoni on the state payroll as a part-time lawyer with enough hours so he qualified for state health insurance. Calderoni quit the job suddenly last year when questions were raised about it.

Between 2007 and 2011 Klein was a lawyer for the William Gallina law firm in The Bronx, which has more than 100 lawsuits against the city. Meanwhile, Klein’s own firm was raking in $2.25 million from the city to review lawsuits and decide whether the city should settle or go to court. After The Post reported the conflict in December 2011, Klein claimed he quit the Gallina firm.
...Astonishingly, Klein said the three law partners were unaware their property was not zoned for a business when they purchased it. He said they believed the city violation was taken care of when they paid a $480 fine in 2006 and they did not know the violation was still open.

He said the firm has hired a lawyer to see if they can change the zoning to accommodate their business.

As for his financial disclosures, Klein argued he didn’t really own the law office building so he didn’t have to report it, despite the deed being in his name and those of his partners. He provided a letter from his accountant saying the law partnership was the “equitable owner” of the house.

Deliberately lying on the state forms is a violation punishable by a $40,000 fine.

After The Post raised questions about the forms, the state Legislative Ethics Commission on Friday began looking into the matter.

Klein denied his law partner’s father had influenced any of his court-appointed jobs.

Klein, 51, who has lived his entire life in a three-block area of The Bronx, was elected to the Assembly in 1994. He ran for the Senate in 2004 after his predecessor, Guy Velella, was sent to jail in a corruption scandal.

The perpetually tan lawmaker, who sports a diamond-studded gold Rolex and drives a Mercedes worth some $58,000, earns $79,500 as a senator.

The divorced lawmaker is dating state Senator Diane Savino, another member of his breakaway Independent Democratic Conference.
You think Giove won't spill the beans on Klein some day? Some day soon, hopefully. Blue America is backing good government progressive reformer Oliver Koppell in his courageous bid to oust Klein from his perch and upend the shady deals he has with corrupt Republican Dean Skelos and corrupt Democrat Andrew Cuomo.

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At 10:05 AM, Anonymous Sue said...

What a gorgeous lizard!


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