By Araceli Cruz
By Tessa Stuart
By Anna Merlan
By Keegan Hamilton
By Albert Samaha
By Village Voice staff
By Tessa Stuart
By Albert Samaha
The informant's identity was one of several questions that remained after the indictment was unveiled. Another was Gordon's behavior. Hynes said that back in April, after she was confronted with the evidence against her, Gordon had agreed to plead guilty, not run for re-election, and cooperate with the investigation. Her cooperation, however, law enforcement sources said, amounted to little. "No one would talk to her," said one source. Then last month, Gordon abruptly reneged on the deal and announced she was gathering petition signatures to get on the ballot. The indictment was unsealed a few days later. She faces from five to 15 years if convicted.
"She has pleaded not guilty, she is running for office, she is going to trial," said Bernard Udell, Gordon's criminal attorney.
Several sources confirmed to the Voice that Batheja is the unidentified developer, and that his cooperation began only after he was pressured to do so by law enforcement authorities.
In a telephone interview early last week, Batheja denied that he had any part in the Gordon investigation. "I have no knowledge about it, no part in this case," he said. "Somebody is spreading a rumor. I wasn't there. It's not me." The developer praised Gordon and said he was sorry for her problems. "Diane is a good lady," he said. After promising to continue talking to the Voice about the matter, Batheja failed to return repeated calls.
He wasn't the only one who didn't want to talk about the case. Aside from Gordon, the most politically prominent name included in last week's indictment was that of Bernard Mitchell Alter, an influential Brooklyn attorney who was named an unindicted co-conspirator in the indictment.
Alter is law partners with State Senator John Sampson, another East New York pol, who ran against Hynes for district attorney last year. Alter was Sampson's chief campaign adviser in the race, which Sampson lost by just five percentage points. Alter has also served as Gordon's lawyer. But for a man who almost elected the borough's next district attorney, Alter had an interesting response to Gordon's proposal to acquire a new home from the developer, according to statements released by authorities.
"You can't just give a house away, not to an assemblywoman," the attorney was heard to say at a June 2005 meeting with Gordon and the developer. "However you guys want to do this afterwards, that's your business. I don't want to know nothing about that."
At a later meeting between Gordon and the developer, the assemblywoman spelled out what she claimed was her attorney's advice for the deal:
"I talked to the lawyer . . . about that. His suggestion was . . . that I don't use my name, I use my mom's name. And I do something like for maybe a $150,000 . . . something that makes sense."
Tapes released by the D.A. show that, a few months later, Gordon indeed brought her mother to a meeting where the developer handed the older woman $1,000 as a down payment.
The Voice went to Alter's Court Street law office, located a few floors above that of his friend and client Headley, to ask about his advice to the assemblywoman. Alter, an avid bicyclist, sat on a couch in his office wearing a pink T-shirt and green shorts. "I got nothing to say, no comment," he said through the half-open door. "I can't. I got attorney-client privilege to think about."