FBI records show that State Senator Carl Kruger accepted payment to various shell companies in exchange for political favors
The way developer Harshad Patel recalls it, Brooklyn Sen. Carl Kruger offered to help him get a zoning change to turn his Sheepshead Bay hot-sheet hotel into apartments.
But it would cost him.
Patel, 58, told the Daily News that Kruger instructed him to write checks to Olympian Strategic Development, a company controlled by Kruger's "intimate associate," Michael Turano.
Each month for nine months in 2007, Patel said, he paid Olympian $3,000, hoping Kruger could win approval to transform his Golden Gate Motor Inn into four apartment buildings.
In the end, he said, nothing came of the zoning change, despite Kruger's involvement, and he sold the hotel.
I wasted a lot of time and money on that," he said.
Patel is part of a growing parade of locals the FBI believes bribed Kruger to win his political largesse, newly released court papers show.
The group includes a Russian arts group seeking taxpayer money, a Diamond District dealer trying to open an adult day care center, and an insurance broker who would benefit from a bill Kruger sponsored mandating that all doctors buy malpractice insurance.
All made payments to shell companies affiliated with Kruger, the longtime Brooklyn Democrat who faces federal charges of extracting bribes to grant political favors, court papers said.
Kruger was indicted in March and is set for trial in January, charged with taking bribes to facilitate a hospital merger and to smooth the way for a developer.
As his case progresses, more evidence has emerged that paints a broader portrait of his malfeasance, prosecutors said.
Much of this shows up in an FBI affidavit that surfaced in court only last month.
Prosecutors said to conceal the payments, Kruger funneled bribes through Olympian, another shell company, Bassett Brokerage, and health care consultant Adex Management.
The FBI lists more than a dozen names that made payments totalling more than $690,000 to these companies with no evidence that the firms did anything in return.
Kruger's lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, insisted Turano and the others were paid for "completely legitimate consulting services" and that "not one dollar" went to Kruger.
Examples cited in the court papers include:
A Russian arts group in Manhattan got $50,000 in taxpayer grants from Kruger in 2007 and 2008 while its affiliate made regular payments to Olympian, the FBI said.
Marina Kovalyov and her daughter, Rina Kirshner, run the Russian American Arts Foundation, which got the taxpayer money, and Firebird Productions, which made $199,000 in payments between 2006 and last year.
I do not talk to reporters, and my mother does not talk to reporters," Kirshner said, before hanging up.
Firebird's lawyer, Maurice Sercarz, would say only that the company "had a legitimate business relationship with Olympian for a number of years."
In May 2007, Diamond District dealer Leon Nektalov wrote a $25,000 check to Adex, which in turn sent $17,000 to Olympian. Nektalov said he had a business proposal for an adult day care center in Parkway Hospital in Forest Hills, Queens, and Kruger introduced him to the hospital's president.
It was stopped in the middle by the owners of the hospital," Nektalov said, insisting the money was not a bribe.
Firms owned by Mill Basin real estate developer Alex Forkosh paid Olympian $110,000 between March 2007 and March 2008.
The FBI affidavit notes that Forkosh was registered as a lobbyist who said he pressed Kruger in 2008 on an unspecified "resolution."
In 2005, Kruger opposed Con Edison's plan to build an electrical substation on a lot owned by Forkosh. Two months later, Kruger put out a press release announcing that Con Ed had backed off.
Forkosh did not return calls. The property is a parking lot for school buses.
Paris Kirwan Associates, a Rochester, N.Y., medical malpractice insurance broker, paid Adex $80,000 in 2007, which then passed $40,000 to Olympian, the FBI said.
Paris Kirwan would have benefited tremendously if Albany passed Kruger's bill requiring that all uninsured and underinsured doctors buy medical malpractice insurance. The bill never passed. Paris Kirwan did not return calls.