Kruger crony with ties to Ratner heads to court • Brooklyn Paper

Kruger crony with ties to Ratner heads to court

The deep-pocketed lobbyist accused of bribing disgraced state Sen. Carl Kruger was expected to plead guilty to bribery charges in Manhattan federal court this week — making him the latest to face prison time in the bribery conspiracy case that ended Kruger’s political career.

Richard Lipsky’s plea would come just two weeks after Kruger resigned from the Senate and pleaded guilty to corruption charges. Kruger faces up to 50 years in prison when he is sentenced in April by Judge Jed S. Rakoff.

Another of his co-defendants, Robert Aquino, the former chief executive officer of Parkway Hospital in Queens, pleaded guilty this week, leaving just one defendant facing trial.

It was not clear what charges Lipsky and Aquino would plead guilty to. Lawyers for the two men declined to comment, as did a spokeswoman for the United States attorney’s office in Manhattan, which is prosecuting the case.

Lipsky, who is in his 60s, has long portrayed himself as an advocate for the underdog and had been a frequent presence in City Hall and in the State Capitol in Albany, the New York Times noted.

But in March, federal prosecutors charged that he had been siphoning fees to Kruger in return for the legislator taking official actions on issues for which Lipsky had been paid to lobby.

Between November 2007 and June 2010, Lipsky directed about $260,000 of his lobbying fees to two shell companies linked to Kruger, prosecutors claim.

Prosecutors said more than $100,000 in cash was found in a safe in his home after his arrest, and some $4,000 in crisp bills was in his suit pocket.

“Kruger’s official actions included sponsoring and supporting legislation, lobbying other elected officials and directing state monies for the benefit of Lipsky and his clients,” the complaint said.

Lipsky’s clients included a Bronx beverage distributor, a supermarket retailer, and a real estate developer that has since been identified as Forest City Ratner. None of the clients were accused of any wrong doing.

Aquino was also charged in a bribery conspiracy involving Kruger.

Lawsuit: Don’t forget Asian voters

Four Asian-American voters went to court on Dec. 29, urging a Brooklyn federal court judge to adopt a redistricting plan that provides Asian Americans with equal representation in New York.

In the suit, filed by the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, the plaintiffs — which includes Steve Chung, a Marine Park resident who is president of the United Chinese Association of Brooklyn — claim that it’s high time for an Asian-American political structure and feels that political deals and inaccurate statistics from the 2010 U.S. census may damage the redistricting process if the courts don’t intervene.

Over the past decade, the Asian-American population in New York has grown dramatically to almost 1.5 million, or 7.3 percent of the state, plaintiffs claim. In New York City alone, the Asian-American population increased 32 percent to more than one million.

“The current political maps — drawn a decade ago — do not take into account this growth, leaving Asian Americans severely underrepresented,” Glenn D. Magpantay, director of Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund’s Democracy Program, told reporters.

The New York State Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment and the New York State Legislature, the two entities charged with redrawing district lines, have not released new maps in time for the 2012 primaries.

The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund demands that an independent party or “Special Master” be appointed to redraw districts immediately.

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