MAY 1 UPDATE: Defense attorneys have not yet been given the cooperation agreement between Monsey financier Moses “Mark” Stern and the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The agreement lays the ground works for Stern’s undercover work for the FBI and prosecutors in the public corruption bribery scam. Deborah Wolikow Loewenberg, who represents Spring Valley Deputy Mayor Joseph Desmaret, said on May 1 that prosecutors have turned over some evidence – audio and video tapes. She and her partner, Kenneth Gribetz, have said he prosecutors must turn over the agreement.
Kenneth Gribetz got “terminated” by the U.S. District Court for apparently not speaking during Tuesday’s arraignment of Spring Valley Deputy Mayor Joseph Desmaret on charges of wire fraud and selling his vote for cash.
Of course, the former Rockland district attorney’s terminated status was an error and shortlived. But Gribetz was at first perplexed when asked Wednesday why he left his law partner Deborah Wolikow Loewenberg at the defense table by her lonesome.
Gribetz said he remained on the case with Loewenberg and would call the court.
It seems, Gribetz reported back, since he didn’t speak at Desmaret’s arraignment before Magistrate Justice Lisa Smith in White Plains, only Loewenberg, who entered Desmaret’s not guilty plea, was marked down as the attorney for Desmaret. The situation was corrected by late Wednesday afternoon with the computerized court notation stating Loewenberg had been added as counsel for Desmaret.
Gribetz said a similar fate befell Jerry Shargel, the well-known mob attorney representing state Sen. Malcolm Smith, D-Queens. Shargel was removed because an assistant handled the arraignment.
A federal complaint states a cooperative witness – identified independently as Monsey financier Moses Mark Stern – bribed New York City Republican Party officials to give the GOP ballot line for mayor to Smith, a Queens Democrat and member of an independent Democratic caucus that voted to let the Republicans control the Senate. Rockland’s senator, David Carlucci, is a member of the caucus and he was approached by Stern but has said he declined to get involved in the catering business
Gribetz also said the defense lawyers received audio and video evidence from the U.S. Attorney’s Office. He said pen register evidence – used to determine who called whom and when – didn’t involve Desmaret. He said Jasmin’s calls are included.
Gribetz said defense lawyers also got copies of Stern’s cooperation agreement with federal prosecutors. Stern pleaded guilty in March to an undisclosed fraud charge and began working with the FBI, federal court documents say.
Rockland prosecutors brought Stern to the FBI. District Attorney Thomas Zugibe said Stern faced mortgage fraud charges involving a run-down house next to his mansion on Remsen Avenue and on accusations of defrauding Citigroup out of $127 million as part of a scheme to build 11 shopping centers down south.
Stern paid Desmaret $10,300 for his vote in support of a catering hall outside the municipal plaza, the complaint states. He also agreed to Mayor Noramie Jasmin’s demand for 50-percent partnership in the catering hall, the complaint states
The catering hall was fictitious, an FBI carrot to draw in potential corruption.
In return for Stern’s largess, Smith agreed to funnel $500,000 in state construction funds sought by Stern to Spring Valley for a road project, the 28-page criminal complaint said.
GOP Bronx chairman Joseph Savino later accepted $15,000 with the promise of another $15,000, while Queens Republican Vice Chairman Vincent Tabone agreed to two $25,000 payments, the complaint said. Savino has a house in the Bronx and had worked as a contractor on tax cases for Clarkstown, where the Town Board fired him the day he was arrested on April 2.
The case returns to court before Judge Kenneth Karas in July.