The mayor’s move comes as the FBI investigation into top cops trading favors for lavish gifts expands to include an inquiry into the fund-raising activities of a pair of Brooklyn businessmen on behalf of de Blasio, a knowledgeable source told the Daily News Friday.
The probe revolves around Jeremy Reichberg and Jona Rechnitz, who both raised money for de Blasio’s 2013 campaign. Rechnitz, who heads a Manhattan-based real estate investment firm, and his wife donated $9,900 to the campaign, which will be returned.
Photo: Jefferson Siegel/New York Daily News
Hamlet Peralta benefited from his connections to NYPD brass, a cop told the Daily News.
Sources close to a third businessman eyed by the FBI say he blatantly benefited from his ties to NYPD brass. Hamlet Peralta, who ran the Hudson River Cafe in Harlem, enjoyed special treatment from rank and file cops policing the now-shuttered hotspot where NYPD brass frequently dined, sources said.
Precinct cops working late tours were frequently dispatched to the restaurant around closing time to direct traffic and break up fights, a cop told the Daily News.
“We were like their security guards,” the disgusted cop said.
The officer suspected that Peralta’s cop connections — particularly with Deputy Chief David Colon — were behind a policy to go easy on enforcing quality of life violations like noise complaints, drinking in public and music playing past 4 a.m.
Colon was a regular at the restaurant, according to the cop.
“He was always in the cafe drinking. Saying it’s ‘his place,’” the source said
Colon was one of four NYPD cops disciplined Thursday in connection with a gifts-for favors police scandal. Peralta had business dealings with businessman Jeremy Reichberg who is suspected of bribing police commanders with gifts in return for police services, two other sources said.
The disgruntled cop said Raul Stevenson, the former commanding officer of the 30th Precinct that included the restaurant, was frequently frustrated by orders to go easy on the W. 133rd St. eatery.
“His hands were tied. It was coming from above him,” a police source said, adding that police were told to not aggressively enforce noise complaints and public drinking at the cafe.
Sources said NYPD Deputy Chief David Colon was a regular at Hudson River Cafe, which was run by a businessman eyed by the FBI.
The cop said the rank and file also suspected someone was tipping off Peralta about upcoming surprise inspections of the restaurant by the NYPD, FDNY, and State Liquor Authority. On one Friday night visit, the restaurant was suspiciously empty and everything appeared to be in perfect order, the cop said.
Captains and chiefs attended dinners there, too, the source said. Roy Richter, the president of the Captains Endowment Association, said the union never held an event at the restaurant.
A former employee at the restaurant also saw the benefits of Peralta’s buddies in blue.
“Anytime there was an issue with anything it would be the least of Hamlet’s worries because he had his police friends to back him up,” the worker said.
But another source familiar with the cafe said it was a legitimate establishment and that breaking up fights and helping with traffic are standard police work.
Peralta attempted to donate $4,950 to Bill de Blasio’s campaign for mayor in 2013, but the donations were declined because he did not pass a vetting by campaign staff, an official said. Peralta could not be reached.
“We are fully confident that the campaign has conducted itself legally and appropriately at all times,” spokesman Dan Levitan said in a statement.
The FBI is questioning real estate industry executives regarding campaign contributions, the source said, but cautioned that it has not risen to a full-blown investigation.
Federal investigators been questioning top cops ensnared in the controversy mostly about Reichberg and Rechnitz — who were both named to de Blasio’s 73-member inauguration committee.
Photo: Susan Watts/New York Daily News
Mayor de Blasio is returning nearly $10,000 worth of campaign donations from Jeremy Reichberg, the head of a Manhattan-based real-estate investment firm.
As mayor, De Blasio attended a dinner in Borough Park with Reichberg.
Rechnitz, aside from the $9,900 donation that is being returned, ponied up $50,000 to the Mayor’s outside money operation, the Campaign for One New York.
Amid criticism and a formal complaint from the good government group Common Cause, the mayor announced last month that the group would be shut down.
Rechnitz further dropped $102,000 when de Blasio asked for help to get Democrats to take control of the New York State Senate, CBS-2 reported.“We will see what the investigation yields,” the Mayor said earlier this week. “But I have no intention of accepting any donations from them while they are still being investigated.”
Photo: Baruch Ezagui
Former NYPD Chief of Department Philip Banks (c.), shown here with Brooklyn businessmen Jeremy Reichberg (l.) and Jona Rechnitz (r.), is one of the top cops the FBI believes may have traded favors for lavish gifts.
The wide-ranging probe traces its roots to Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s investigation into Norman Seabrook, the powerful boss of the city correction officers union, sources said.
NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton announced Thursday that four high-ranking NYPD officers were disciplined in relation to the investigation.
Two of the cops — Deputy Chief Michael Harrington, commanding officer of Manhattan North, and Deputy Inspector James Grant, head of the Upper East Side’s 19th Precinct — were transferred and stripped of their guns and badges. Two others — Deputy Chief Eric Rodriguez, second in command of Patrol Borough Brooklyn South, and Deputy Chief David Colon, executive officer of the Housing Bureau — were transferred to desk duty.
The feds, in questioning the cops, were looking for leverage against the two businessmen, a source said.
The source added that the cops would likely end up facing only departmental charges or fines from the Conflicts of Interest Board.
Another insider, however, said there is still the possibility of criminal charges “depending on what else might be learned.”
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