Forward: On Christmas Day three years ago, two Orthodox businessmen dressed as Christmas elves knocked on the door of the Staten Island home of a high-ranking officer in the New York City police department.
The elves came bearing gifts, according to a criminal complaint unsealed this morning in federal court in Manhattan: A video game system for the officer’s children and jewelry for his wife.
All told, the officer’s alleged Christmas haul was worth $1,000.
The new details come amid a fresh wave of arrests in the federal corruption investigation connecting high-ranking members of the New York Police Department with the Christmas elves-cum-Orthodox businessmen. Federal wiretaps of the Orthodox businessmen uncovered a system of alleged bribes and payoffs, leading to a sprawling scandal that has already ended or disrupted the careers of a number of police officials and resulted in the indictment on corruption charges of the powerful head of the corrections officers union.
One of the elves, Jeremy Reichberg of Boro Park, was arrested June 20. Court papers do not name the other elf, but press reports identify him as Upper West Side real estate investor Jona Rechnitz. Rechnitz is cooperating with investigators.
In a press statement, U.S. Attorney Preet Bhararah said that in return for bribes, Reichberg had access to “a private police force for [himself and his] friends.”
Reichberg, an ultra-Orthodox businessman, is known in the Boro Park community for flaunting his ties to New York City mayor Bill de Blasio. Rechnitz is a scion of a prominent Orthodox family.
According to the complaint, Reichberg and Rechnitz were so tied in to the police department that they recommended Grant for his job leading the Upper East Side precinct. When a department leader called to inform Grant of his promotion, Reichberg and Rechnitz were on the line.
The complaint lists a litany of favors performed by Grant and Harrington for Reichberg and Rechnitz, including securing them special access to events like parades, police escorts, and helping with investigations related to their businesses. Reichberg and Rechnitz also had Harrington send police cars to provide extra security at synagogues and religious sites. In March of 2015, Reichberg told Harrington that a rabbi at a Manhattan synagogue was fearful in the wake of the Paris terror attacks, and wanted police protection. Harrington told Reichberg that they were “gonna try” to send a car over, and that there would “definitely” be a car there the next day.
The Manhattan synagogue is not identified in the complaint, but Chabad Lubavitch of Midtown Manahttan is located at the intersection described. The synagogue’s rabbi did not respond to an inquiry about whether he had called Reichberg to ask for additional police presence.
According to the complaint, Rechnitz flew Reichberg and Grant to Las Vegas for a vacation in 2013. A prostitute accompanied them on their trip. “GRANT and other took advantage of her services,” the complaint asserts.
The police contacts also pulled strings to get a lane closed on the busy Lincoln Tunnel so a visiting pal of Reichberg could be whisked into Manhattan, the New York Post reported.
* This article sickens me. These guys are supposed to be Orthodox Jews. Where is their sense of ethics and honor. They bring shame to all Jews.
* There is zero connection between religious observance and ethical behavior. For example the religious party Shas in Israel has had, by far, the highest percentage of it’s elected officials sent to jail than any other political party.
* A Torahitic injunction is “k’doshim teheyu”. We are to be held to a higher moral and ethical standard than the rest of the world. We are supposed to be a “mamlechet Kohanim”.
Therefore it is a newsworthy abomination when we dress the part but don’t act accordingly.