NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) The bribery trial of Norman Seabrook, the once-powerful boss of the New York City correction officers’ union, ended in a hung jury Thursday.
Jurors were not able to reach a unanimous verdict for Seabrook, 57, and hedge fund financier Murray Huberfeld.READ MORE: Woman Struck And Killed While Pushing Baby In Stroller In Queens
“We look forward to a retrial where we will present again the powerful proof of how Seabrook allegedly sold his duty to safeguard correction officers’ retirement money to Murray Huberfeld in exchange for cash bribes. Although justice has been delayed, we expect it will ultimately prevail,” the U.S. Attorney’s office said in a statement.
As CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported, there was a big smile on Seabrook’s face after a judge declared a mistrial in the case.
“God is good to me, and I feel great,” Seabrook said.
The mistrial came after a nine-day trial of stunning testimony from real estate developer Jona Rechnitz, a businessman turned government witness who implicated not only Seabrook but political figures up to and including the Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Seabrook’s attorney tried to convince the jury he was duped by Rechnitz, calling the witness’s capacity for lying an act worth of an Oscar. His lawyer also said he wanted to be mayor himself, so Rechnitz was able to lure him on the promise of big fundraising.
After six days of deliberations, the jury sent out a “Dear Judge” note saying: “After continued spirited discussion and consideration of the evidence, we find ourselves no closer to reaching a unanimous verdict and see no prospect of making further progress.”
Prosecutors charged that Seabrook steered $20 million in union pension funds to a hedge fund in exchange for kickbacks.READ MORE: Rudy Giuliani's License To Practice Law Suspended Over Comments About 2020 Election
Rechnitz testified that he paid Seabrook $60,000 in cash stuffed into a Ferragamo bag as payment for the investment. Defense attorneys said Rechnitz helped win the mistrial.
“The jurors snickered through Jona Rechnitz’s testimony,” said Seabrook attorney Paul Schectman. Anybody whose answer to the question, ‘Do you know the difference between the truth and falsity?’ is, ‘Could you repeat the question?’ can’t be too great a witness.”
Rechnitz admitted to telling a string of lies before agreeing to become a government witness.
He also testified that his plan was to purchase influence with police officers and politicians – especially Mayor de Blasio. He said he made huge donations to de Blasio in exchange for favors.
Huberfeld rushed out of the courtroom without talking. But his sister had plenty to say.
“Jona Rechnitz is just a bad guy who said terrible, terrible lies,” said Bina Levy.
Acting U.S. Attorney Joon Kim said he is optimistic that the government will succeed the second time around.MORE NEWS: Brooklyn Intersection Renamed After Legendary New York City Journalist Pete Hamill
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)