New York – As the federal investigation into Mayor de Blasio’s fundraising practices and the NYPD corruption scandal continues, a criminal case involving a Bronx landlord and de Blasio supporter has come to light.
DNAinfo.com reports (http://dnain.fo/1RU6xIk) that Gerald Leibman, 74, who owns several Bronx properties which are listed on the Public Advocate’s worst landlord list, claims he was a victim of the massive $12 million Ponzi scheme at the hands of the former Hudson River Café owner Hamlet Peralta.
As reported last week by VIN News, citing sources at DNAInfo that Jona Rechnitz and Jeremiah Reichberg, businessmen at the center of the NYPD criminal probe, were also victims of the same Ponzi scheme.
Leibman, described only as “Investor 1” in a 2014 lawsuit against the 36-year-old Peralta, alleges Peralta never repaid him in full for loans totaling $3.15 million which were supposed to be used for a business venture with West 125th Street Liquors. Instead, the lawsuit contends, Peralta only paid back $1.25 million and spent the rest of the money on fine clothes and expensive food for himself. Leibman, who owns, a $5 million house in the Hamptons, is currently suing Peralta for the remaining $1.9 million.
Reached by phone for comment, Leibman would only say he “was advised not to speak to anybody” and denied he made a $4,500 donation to de Blasio’s transition team on December 10, 2013. But campaign finance records show a contribution was made to de Blasio, listing Leibman’s name, his business address in Washington Heights, and his occupation as president of Weston Management, his real estate firm.
If Leibman in fact did not make the contribution, then it is possible the de Blasio campaign used his name and information without his knowledge – what is known as a straw donor – a tactic which is illegal according to election law.
Both Rechnitz and Reichberg are also known de Blasio supporters who served on his transition team and raised considerable monies for the mayor’s Campaign for One New York initiative.
Evan Sarzin, Leibman’s lawyer, declined to comment on the pending investigation and lawsuit.