NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — There was serious pushback Wednesday evening from the commissioner of the Office of Emergency Management.
As CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported exclusively, Joseph Esposito said his extensive NYPD experience got him the job, not a phone call from the man at the center of the city’s corruption scandals.
“I’m frustrated by it. You know, it besmirches my reputation,” Esposito said. “It hurts that someone would think I needed help to get a job here in the city.”
Esposito told Kramer emphatically that he had no connection whatsoever to Jona Rechnitz, a man at the center of two corruption indictments, who sources said made a call to Mayor Bill de Blasio to ask that Esposito get the OEM job.
Kramer: “Do you know Jona Rechnitz?”
Esposito: “No I don’t.”
Kramer: “Never met him?”
Kramer: “So did you call anybody close to him to ask him to make a call to help you get the job?”
Esposito: “No I didn’t.”
Esposito, who served as chief of department for the NYPD for 13 years, legitimately has top credentials for the post. He has handled all manner of major municipal crises, from 9/11 – he appeared with President George W. Bush at Ground Zero – to Superstorm Sandy and the Times Square bomber.
He went through a rigorous multi-level screening process before de Blasio gave him the job.
Sources claim that Rechnitz’s call may have been about self-aggrandizement – making himself seem important – which may be why he then reportedly bragged to friends, “I’ve got the mayor on lockdown.”
Eric Falk, a spokesman for Mayor de Blasio, insisted, “Commissioner Esposito’s unrivaled credentials were the only reasons he got this job.”
Rechnitz has pleaded guilty in two corruption cases – one involved NYPD corruption and the hiring of prostitute Gabi Grecko for group sex with police officials on a trip to Las Vegas. The other involved a reported hedge fund scam with former correction union president Norman Seabrook.
Rechnitz has a cooperation agreement with U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s office.
“In my role in the NYPD, I did a lot of interviews with people that were cooperating because they were under the gun, so to speak,” Esposito said. “And what I found is that people who are cooperating will many times say what they think the prosecutors want to hear, and this may be the case in this situation.”
The call was reportedly made on a cellphone from an office at Police Headquarters. And although Rechnitz made tens of thousands of dollars in donations, the mayor said he had never met Rechnitz until after winning the Democratic primary.
De Blasio also said Rechnitz got “no favorable municipal action.”