NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – There were more accusations from the witness stand Monday as a former campaign donor to Mayor Bill de Blasio testified in a bribery trial.
Btu as CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez reported, the mayor has been saying and continues to say that the witness on the stand is a fraud.
It was Groundhog Day for Mayor de Blasio – as he defended himself for the third day in a row Monday against claims from relationship with a former top donor.real estate developer Jona Rechnitz – one of the mayor’s biggest campaign donors. Rechnitz implicated de Blasio in an alleged pay-to-play scheme at City Hall.
“I’ve said — he’s a liar and a felon,” de Blasio said. “It’s clear.”
The questions dogged the mayor Monday morning gas he appeared with Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-New York), who endorsed de Blasio for reelection.
While that was happening, Rechnitz was back on the stand for a third day Monday in the bribery trial for former correction union boss Norman Seabrook in U.S. District Court in Lower Manhattan.
“God is good to me,” Seabrook said.
Rechnitz testified again Monday about his weekly contact with de Blasio – through email, texts, phone calls, and communication through the mayor’s campaign finance director Ross Offinger.
In court, Rechnitz admitted to gifting Offinger with paid hotel accommodations for a vacation in the Dominican Republic.
Rechnitz also again testified that he met repeatedly with de Blasio, and tried to help a friend get a zoning adjustment to help future development over Grand Central Terminal. Rechnitz testified that the mayor told him he would follow up, but the city never helped him out on that project.
But on Monday, de Blasio told CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer that Rechnitz’s word cannot be trusted.
Kramer: “Mayor, are you saying that he’s perjuring himself on the stand?”
De Blasio: “I’m not a lawyer. I’m simply saying that he’s a liar and that he’s a felon. I’ve covered this very clearly. He’s said things that aren’t true about me. That’s all there is to it.”
“The mayor’s done an outstanding job. He’s answered questions on those issues,” Schumer said. “To me, crimes, jobs [are] the two top criteria. I’m proud to endorse him.”
De Blasio said he’s not concerned Rechnitz’s testimony will spark a new federal investigation.
The attorney for Seabrook’s co-defendant, Murray Huberfeld, began cross-examination of Rechnitz Monday – painting the witness as a serial liar.
In March, Rechnitz pleaded guilty to donating money to government officials in exchange for favors.
Rechnitz admitted Monday to withholding the truth during interrogations by federal investigators until he was offered leniency in his sentencing in exchange for his testimony in the Seabrook trial.
Rechnitz said Monday that he lied to a lot of people – including his wife and Seabrook. He said because of his family and kids, he decided it was time to come clean and hopefully get a second chance.
He will be back on the stand Tuesday morning.