NEW YORK (PIX11) – State Assemblyman Eric Stevenson awaits sentencing after a jury found him guilty of taking thousands in cash bribes.
Assemblyman Eric Stevenson (D-Bronx) was accused of receiving $22,000, mostly in cash envelopes that were handed to him personally, once in a hotel bathroom, and in a car, for privacy.
Specifically, Stevenson was accused of taking the illicit contributions from businessmen Igor Belyansky, Rostislav “Slava” Belyansky, Igor Tsimerman and David Binman. Most of the payments came in envelopes that were handed to Stevenson personally, once in a hotel bathroom, and in a car. One payment, according to the complaint, was being made at a Bronx steakhouse, but Stevenson, concerned about surveillance cameras at the restaurant, insisted on taking payment outside on the sidewalk. The person making the payment, who was cooperating with investigators, was actually recording the transaction electronically, while agents watched remotely. The decision to move outside of the restaurant actually ended up helping the investigation.
Prosecutors say that the four businessmen own and operate senior adult day care centers, social and service centers for senior citizens whose services are often paid for by taxpayers, through Medicaid. The businessmen wanted Stevenson to quickly clear legislative hurdles to get two adult day care centers open. Stevenson obliged, prosecutors said, in a remarkably accommodating way.
“So here we go again,” U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a news conference in April of this year to unseal the criminal complaint against State Assemblyman Eric Stevenson (D-Bronx) and four local businessmen. The legal action and arrest of the state legislator and his alleged accomplices came just two days after federal agents arrested State Senator Malcolm Smith, City Councilmember Dan Halloran and four other political leaders arrested for bribery and other charges.
On Monday, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. said in a statement, “As I have made crystal clear in the past, our borough and our city require and deserve honest, corruption free government. The public must have faith in its elected leaders, and the deplorable actions of Assembly Member Stevenson should not cast a bad light on all elected officials, most of whom work hard to deliver for their communities and solve the issues that face our neighborhoods.”
Stevenson, who awaits sentencing, now faces up to 55 years behind bars after being convicted on charges of fraud, bribery and conspiracy.