Mayor Bill de Blasio's ties to two controversial fundraisers are being scrutinized amid fallout for some high-ranking NYPD officers who allegedly received gifts from the high-powered businessmen, NBC 4 New York has learned.
De Blasio said Monday he barely knew Jeremy Reichberg and Jona Rechnitz, the two realtors who sources say are under federal investigation for allegedly offering money to top police officials, including former NYPD chief Philip Banks.
Rechnitz and his wife contributed the legal limit of $9,900 to de Blasio's general election campaign and $50,000 to the Campaign for One New York, a now-defunct fund the mayor created to help lobby for universal pre-kindergarten and affordable housing, according to the mayor's office. Reichberg also made a donation, though the exact amount was not immediately clear.
When asked by NBC 4 New York Monday to describe how well he knew the businessmen, de Blasio said, "I'm happy to take questions today, but I'm not going to be speaking about this after today."
He continued, "In terms of these two individuals, I met them around the time of the general election -- had not known them previously -- have spent very little time with them in the scheme of things and not much at all in the last year."
Sources tell NBC 4 New York that the federal probe has also looked into corrections union president Norman Seabrook and a Harlem business owner accused of running a Ponzi scheme.
But the mayor insists the donors got nothing in return.
"I hold myself and my administration to the highest standards," he said.
"We are very, very careful about doing things in a legal and appropriate manner. We are very careful about disclosing things we get," he added.
The mayor said he has not heard from any federal investigators in their investigation into Rechnitz and Reichberg.
"I assume they have my phone number if they want to talk to me," he said.
Referring to the investigation into the realtors' ties to NYPD officials, de Blasio said he was "obviously sad to hear all this has happened -- it doesn't sound like it's appropriate."
"There's an investigation underway, we will wait to see what comes of the investigation before making our final judgement," he said.
Police Commissioner Bill Bratton last week said two high-ranking NYPD officers were placed on modified duty and two others were transferred amid the federal investigation into potential violations of conflict of interest rules and federal criminal laws.
The New York Post, citing sources, reported that one of the NYPD officers allegedly accepted cash and diamonds from Reichberg in exchange for security. He allegedly accompanied Reichberg from local airports after overseas trips to collect diamonds, according to the Post's sources.
The Post further reported that Reichberg, along with Rechnitz, offered overseas trips and other gifts to law enforcement officials.
The FBI probe allegedly extends to 20 members of the NYPD, sources say.
The investigation was launched by the NYPD at the end of 2013. The FBI and Justice Department joined the ongoing inquiry in early 2014, Bratton said.
Banks maintains he did not knowingly break the law while employed by the NYPD.
“It does not appear that Mr. Banks, either while employed by the New York City Police Department or after he retired, was involved in any intentional criminal conduct," Banks' lawyer, Ben Brafman, said.
Seabrook, who reportedly traveled with Rechnitz and Reichberg to Israel also maintains his relationship with the businessmen was not illegal.
“There is no quid pro quo. There’s nothing [the FBI] could say Norman did wrong,’’ he told the Post, referring to himself.