A Month of Albany Scandals is New York's March Badness

Among the contenders: a Brooklyn pol hooked on a dream house

Asked how much the house would be worth, Batheja says: "About half a million dollars." Gordon quickly interjects that the price can't "go over two hundred thousand."

"Hey, Diane," a frustrated-sounding Alter says, "I'm not telling you what to do. I'm just telling you how to do it so you don't get your butt whacked."

A price of $300,000, however, might give enough "wiggle room," in Alter's phrase. The lawyer also suggested that Batheja provide a personal money mortgage to finance the sale.

This may have sounded perilously close to legal, for the developer quickly reminded everyone of the basic agreement. "Okay," Batheja says, "but that doesn't mean she has to pay for it, right?"

"Look, excuse me," shoots back Alter. "However you guys want to, it's got to show money."

For the lawyer, the warning bells kept ringing. "What do you need a D.A., a grand jury subpoena for?" says Alter, who then starts talking to the walls: "I want you, anybody who hears this [to know] we love you. If that thing is wired," he says, gesturing across the table, "I want everybody to know, I love this man . . . I'm not asking for any favors or any money. We love him."

That should have been the end of things, but the dream house lured Gordon on. Even after listening to her lawyer's sermon in her church, she still let Batheja put $7,000 for a down payment in an account in her mother's name. She later sent the money sent back, but it was too late. Confronted by law enforcement in February 2006, Gordon tried for a while to work her way out of trouble by wearing her own wire for the district attorney. Sources say she wore the device to her own campaign fundraiser, where she gabbed with judges and political leaders. But her heart apparently wasn't in it, and she was indicted in July 2006.

Gordon's attorney, Bernard Udell, said last week that his defense is simple: "She was the victim of entrapment," he said. "She was just trying to get the land for the community and she needed someone with expertise to develop it."

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