NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — The key witness in the bribery trial of a Bronx assemblyman told jurors Wednesday about the show-me-the-money culture that was thriving in Albany.
As WCBS 880’s Irene Cornell reported, Sigfredo Gonzalez posed as a businessman opening a senior center in the Bronx and recorded his conversations with Assemblyman Eric Stevenson.
Stevenson is charged with accepting more than $20,000 in bribes to help a group of businessmen build an adult day care center in his district. In return for the cash, he’s accused of introducing legislation that would block competing centers from opening up for three years.
The assemblyman is heard on a recording saying of the law: “It eliminates all these people from coming in. Everybody’s in competition. You just need a few good-quality homes, but they’re coming up like roaches. They’re all over the place.”
Gonzalez also described Stevenson’s successful meeting with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who promised to allocate $50,000 for the capital project in his district. Stevenson’s plan, Gonzalez said, was to pocket a good share of that money for himself.
It was the second day of Stevenson’s trial. On Tuesday, he arrived 10 minutes late and then shook his head repeatedly as a prosecutor described his alleged misdeeds.
Muhammad Ibn Bashir, a lawyer for Stevenson, told jurors Stevenson did not know he was dealing with corrupt businessmen when he was introduced to a project that would benefit his neighborhood.
Bashir said the government used a corrupt person to try to trick Stevenson into saying things that would make it seem there was evidence when there was not.
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