On Christmas Day 2013, two Orthodox Jewish businessmen dressed up as Santa, wearing red-and-white felt hats, and packed the trunk of a black Aston Martin convertible with gifts they later delivered to high-ranking New York City police officials.
Earlier that year, the men — Jeremy Reichberg and Jona Rechnitz — had invited police officials aboard a private jet headed to Las Vegas for Super Bowl weekend at the MGM Grand. Mr. Reichberg had solicited a prostitute to join them, and selected a revealing outfit for her to wear on the flight.
In exchange for these favors, Mr. Reichberg and Mr. Rechnitz wanted the police to take care of parking tickets, moving violations, even personal disputes.
Police officials did that and more, federal prosecutors said. One officer, James Grant, a former police deputy inspector, helped Mr. Reichberg quickly obtain a full-carry gun license that he did not qualify for and ordered officers to investigate a suspected trespasser at a building associated with Mr. Rechnitz, according to court documents.
Now, Mr. Grant, 45, and Mr. Reichberg, 44, are co-defendants in a federal bribery trial in Manhattan, and Mr. Rechnitz, who pleaded guilty to honest services wire fraud, is the government’s star witness.
Over the last six weeks, a parade of witnesses in federal court have described years of sordid and petty corruption — police commanders doing favors in exchange for junkets, prostitutes and luxury gifts. The graft involved senior officials and touched the highest echelon of the department. The trial has even cast a cloud over City Hall and Mayor Bill de Blasio, who received large donations from the same businessmen but has not been accused of wrongdoing. Closing arguments are expected this week.