In court, donor Jona Rechnitz brags about access to de Blasio
NEW YORK (FOX 5 NEWS) - Mayor Bill de Blasio avoided reporters as he left an event in lower Manhattan Friday. The mayor refused to answer questions on his relationship with Jona Rechnitz, a real estate developer who claims he made donations to de Blasio in exchange for access and favors.
The testimony come at the corruption trial of Norman Seabrook, the former head of the correction officers' union who stands accused of investing pension money in a hedge fund in exchange for cash.
Rechnitz already pleaded guilty in kickback schemes involving Seabrook and is now the star witness for the government's case. Under oath, he said that after more than $100,000 in donations he got the mayor's cell phone number and made frequent calls requesting favors and had problems taken care of.
"This is yet another example of the troubling ethical issues that have engulfed the de Blasio administration for the last several years," said Randy Mastro, the chairman of Citizens Union, a political watchdog.
Rechnitz also spoke about taking NYPD officers on trips and paying for prostitutes. He testified to having a close relationship with former Chief of Department Philip Banks III.
In March, de Blasio avoided federal charges related to the claims.
"These are nothing but re-heated, re-packaged accusations that have been extensively reviewed and passed on by authorities at multiple levels," the mayor's office said in a statement Friday. A spokesman for the mayor called Rechnitz a "liar" and a "failed fixer of grand delusion just trying to save his own skin."