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There’s a good chance this week will go down in New York City political history textbooks. And not for the best reasons.
If you’ve watched the news (or Twitter) over the past three days, you’ve come across the Dan Holleran/Malcolm Smith story that involved bribing and mayoral rigging. Then, of course, the outgrowth of blame directed at Christine Quinn. And don’t forget even more drama between her rivals–all of which directly leads back to the exposure of Holleran’s illegal use of city funds.
And, yesterday, yet another politico was booked for corruption. South Bronx Assemblyman and Democrat Eric Stevenson was caught by federal authorities for accepting bribes of upward of $20,000. With this money, he planned on passing a law that would solely benefit four adult day care developers. Like Holleran and Smith, somehow he expected to get away with it.
As if this story couldn’t get any wilder, the mole was Stevenson’s fellow assemblyman, Nelson Castro, who’s currently facing perjury charges from 2008. And late afternoon yesterday, he resigned from his seat and described just exactly what has been going down over the past four years.
Castro was indicted in 2008 for lying about a certain civil matter–the details of which are currently unknown. In an agreement with the feds, he wired himself; he would be a mole for the government, seeking out public corruption that was happening in private back rooms. He would be referred to as Assemblyman-1 in the complaints filed, subjecting himself to a forced resignation once the details of the investigations hit headlines. And, yesterday, that is exactly what went down.
Here’s his letter for further clarity:
Today I announce that I am resigning my seat in the New York State Assembly, effective Monday, April 8, 2013.
On July 31, 2009, I was indicted by a Bronx County Grand Jury for committing perjury in a 2008 civil matter, held prior to my election to the Assembly. I appreciate the seriousness of my misconduct.
Thereafter, I agreed to cooperate with the Bronx District Attorney’s Office and, later, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, in conjunction with various investigations aimed at rooting out public corruption. As one result of this cooperation, among other things, this morning a complaint was unsealed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York charging Assemblyman Eric Stevenson and four others with various federal crimes. I continue to cooperate with State and Federal authorities in this prosecution and in other investigations.
I am very proud of my accomplishments and the many benefits that I have secured on behalf of my district over the last four years. These include helping thousands of constituents to apply for U.S. citizenship on a no-fee basis, and providing educational programs focusing on the Citizenship & Naturalization Exam; obtaining funding for technology purchases and initiatives for the schools in my district; sponsoring events for senior centers and youth programs in my district and beyond; and securing additional low cost housing units in the area. Most of all, I take pride in how our diverse population has united to transcend racial and ethnic differences and work together.
My district is comprised of hard working and honest people, devoted to their families and to their community. I deeply regret my misconduct while campaigning before I was elected to office. It is my sincere hope that my constituents remember me most for the good I have done as their representative, rather than for the poor example I set as a candidate.
Because of the sensitive nature of ongoing prosecutions and investigations, I must direct all further inquiries to my attorney, Michael C. Farkas, Esq.
The key phrase: “One result of this cooperation, among other things…”
Stevenson could be the first of several targets exposed by Castro’s wiring. That means the trouble isn’t over any time soon for Albany. And it’s only just beginning for everyone watching from the sidelines.
Maybe U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara was right when he said, “Political corruption in New York is indeed rampant.” Yes, Mr. Bharara, this indeed feels like Groundhog Day.