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Sen. Kruger speaks: Sell my services to donors? Me?

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After a week of tight-lipped silence, state Sen. Carl Kruger is finally speaking out about the FBI’s probe into his campaign practices, saying that he’s just an innocent patsy despite allegations that he sold his sizable political clout at high-priced fundraisers.

“All I know is that I’m a victim in this whole thing,” Kruger (D–Sheepshead Bay) said about the arrest of local restaurateur Michael Levitis, who was caught on tape telling another restaurant owner that the senator would take care of his problems if he held a fundraiser.

In this case, though, Levitis was just bragging that he knew Kruger, the senator said.

“This guy went around boasting that he knew me and made representations that the government saw right through,” Kruger said.

Kruger claimed that the federal government isn’t investigating his campaign, even though Levitis, the manager of the Rasputin Supper Club on Coney Island Avenue and Avenue X, allegedly agreed to help funnel $2,000 to Jason Koppel, Kruger’s chief of staff, from the other restaurateur, who was acting as an agent for the FBI.

It was unclear if Koppel ever received the money from Levitis, who allegedly managed to swindle $1,000 out of the eatery owner for acting as a go-between. Levitis was ultimately arrested for lying to federal investigators about the incriminating recordings.

A spokesman from the U.S. Attorney’s office said he could not confirm or deny that Kruger was off the FBI’s radar, but a source close to the case said that the powerful Senate Finance Committee chairman was still under the microscope.

“It’s 100 percent false [that Kruger’s been cleared by the FBI],” the source said. “Kruger’s attorney called up one of the investigators and asked him the status of the case, but the detective could not say. Now [Kruger] goes around saying he was cleared knowing that the U.S. Attorney isn’t allowed to respond.”

High profile criminal defense attorney Benjamin Brafman, who represented Sean “P-Diddy” Combs and NFL star Plaxico Burress before representing Kruger, refuted the source’s statement.

“I have confirmed as recently as this week that Sen. Kruger is not the target of the investigat­ion,” he said. “Because of who he is, they looked at him very carefully when the allegations first arose and they do not expect that he or anyone on his staff will ever be charged with any wrongdoing.”

Brafman said that Levitis used Kruger’s name “without his authorizat­ion.”

“He suggested he had access to him to enhance his own standing in the community,” Brafman said. “There is nothing a political figure can do to protect themselves from that.”

Kruger concurred.

“At no time did [the FBI] think I was getting the money or that I was nothing more than a pawn in this chess game,” he said, describing Levitis as a “casual acquaintance” — one from whom he received more than $8,000 in contributions and fund-raising services since 2006, according to campaign filings.

“I have thousands of contributors and, like every elected official around the country, I intercede in government matters and cut through the political red tape for my constituen­ts,” he said. “But there’s no guaranteed quid pro quo.”

That’s not what Levitis said when he recommended that the restaurateur working with the FBI make a donation to Kruger’s campaign. In turn, Kruger would make the eatery owner’s problems with the State Liquor Authority go away, he alleged.

“To start off, you have to throw in a few thousand,” Levitis explained during a conversation on April 14, 2009. “[It] depends on whether the problem is big or small. How much work he has to put in.”

On Sept. 18, Levitis contacted the undercover restaurateur again, claiming that his hearing with the State Liquor Authority was postponed for two weeks.

“So for now you can still work,” Levitis explained. “He asked that you do a fundraiser. I said ‘Help first.’ But he does want you to do a fundraiser.”

Levitis was arrested after denying the conversation with the informant took place, even though investigators had everything on tape.

His attorney Jeffrey Lichtman said that he and his client was “fighting the case with all of our might.”

With help from Levitis and many others, Kruger now has $2.1 million to spend on his re-election. He won his last “race” with 93 percent of the vote.

Updated 5:19 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

MIKE from MIDWOOD says:
Another lying crooked politicians from NY. What else is new?
July 6, 2010, 7:02 am
sal from mill basin says:
Senator Carl Kruger is as crooked as a $ 3 dollar bill. He has always been a "Pay for Play" politician. It's in Kruger DNA.
Let the investigation continue & I am sure it will not only lead to his arrest ( I'm sure he has lied to the FBI)but other politicians associated with Kruger in South Brooklyn.
Don't forget Kruger is one of the 3 Amigos. So far Monserrat is out , Espada is going & Kruger willbe next to fall.
How can a State Senator live in a $ 3 million dollar house on their salary?
It dosen't smell right.
July 6, 2010, 8:17 am
Sally from Wash Basin says:
@Sal
I'm noticing a lot of threes in your comment.

Seperately - a three dollar bill is not crooked, it's queer. And it's a derogatory term for gays, not for crooked politicians.
July 6, 2010, 8:20 am
sal from mill basin says:
@sally

I guess you got that right. When is Carl Kruger going to come out of the closet ? Not that there is anything wrong with that.
July 6, 2010, 8:52 am
Tom from Flatbush says:
Look at this guy Kruger face. The guilt is written all over it. If I was in the Jury I would convict him of perjury, bribes, etc on the spot. He is a typical sleazeball politico from Brooklyn.
July 6, 2010, 12:06 pm
Nassau Nell from Wycoff says:
This is the same guy who as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, didn't know how much money was in the state budget or how the State was going to pay for all the spending.

What a fraud !
July 6, 2010, 12:42 pm
Hank from Coney Island says:
I'm not sure who the bigger liar is, Kruger or his lawyer Brafman. As for Levitis, I sat on a jury in one of Jeffrey Lichtman's cases and I can tell you the guy was incredible. I wouldn't be surprised if this case ended in an acquittal or a dismissal for his client.
July 7, 2010, 4:46 pm
the truth from brooklyn says:
Kruger should be investigated and the public will see that he is guilty. If he is so innocent, why did he hire the most expensive and powerful attorney in the country. Kruger has the most powerful attorney in the united states fighting to keep the public think that he is innocent.
July 7, 2010, 8:56 pm
loneranger from Bensonhurst says:
Kruger and the rest of the corrupt politicians will probably receive medals from there part in this scandel.Many of the politicianswho were found guilty of corruption never went jail, they were promoted to other great jobs(spitzer,seddio,garson,feldman). The average person would be rotting in prison if we have done what kruger pulled off.
March 12, 2011, 12:57 am

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