‘The Last Supper’
Was It The Pivotal MomentIn A Criminal Conspiracy?
‘The Last Supper’ Five Practiced Conspirators And Sandy Annabi Meet Hours Before Her Vote Reversal
Does anyone seriously believe that any significant amount of money exchanged hands to lubricate the passage of approvals by Yonkers City Council for either the Ridge Hill development or Longfellow Senior Housing, and Phil Amicone and Nick Spano received nothing for their efforts? Of course not. Nick and Phil, between them, controlled the Republican patronage machine in Yonkers; and, as between them, Nick was clearly el Capo.
On the Democratic side of the aisle, it is well known that City Chair, now Chairman of the County Legislature, Ken Jenkins, had lined up agency of the rentals in Ridge Hill for his ERA Gem Real Estate Brokerage. Let no one suggest that corruption isn’t an equal opportunity enterprise in Yonkers, with Republicans and Democrats cooperating to each grab a share. And, let’s not lose sight of the fact that Mike Spano is licensed to Ken Jenkins’ office.
We are informed by an exceptionally reliable and knowledgeable source, from first-hand observation, that a certain Italian restaurant in New Rochelle was the scene of a supper meeting attended by Al Pirro, Nick Spano, Mike Spano, as well as Anthony Mangone, Zehy Jereis and Sandy Annabi on the evening before the Yonkers City Council meeting at which Annabi changed her position and voted to enable the Ridge Hill Development Project to go forward; in a sense, a Last Supper.
Does such a meeting, in and of itself, prove any wrongdoing, any bribery or extortion was occurring? No, of course not. It’s possible, just possible, that all of those Yonkers players were out to celebrate because Sandy had changed her position and advised all of them that she would be voting in favor of Ridge Hill after all, because the builder, Bruce Ratner, had agreed to contribute $10 million to the Yonkers School System.
Pasta and a hot antipasto, even with a little Chianti to wash it all down, does not a conspiracy make. Neither does the payment of a seriously attractive, somewhat seductive, young woman’s utility bills, mortgage payments, or car lease, by members of the opposite sex, no matter how shady their prior histories.
We do not take breaches of public trust lightly, by any means, and we are only too well aware of the atmosphere of corruption engendered by a District Attorney who occupied the Office for 12 years while married to the most outrageous white-collar criminal in the County. One United States Attorney, who should have known better, MaryJo White, in fact, perpetuated the corrupt environment when she failed to include Jeanine Pirro in the original 67-count indictment that named Al, despite the fact that the case involved a 10-year-long tax fraud, 1988-1997, in which nine of those 10 years Jeanine jointly signed the tax returns.
Despite having been convicted in White Plains Federal District Court on June 20, 2000, and sentenced to 29 months in federal prison, Al was out by clever canard, in only 11. Additionally, although convicted of all 38 remaining counts of a 67- count indictment, after Judge Barrington Parker redacted the 29 most egregious counts involving the rip-off of Peekskill’s Hudson Valley Hospital, together with Robert Boyle, another of George Pataki’s crooked buddies, the Appellate Division, Second Department, never disbarred Al. Instead, they waited three years to act and then merely suspended his license for three years, beginning May 12, 2003.
No matter, Mr. Fixit, Al Pirro, went right on practicing law, making appearances before town boards and city planning commissions such as White Plains, and wherever he would normally appear, in direct disobedience to the specific conditions of his ‘slap-on-the-wrist’ suspension. No one can say the federal courts or state courts treated Al Pirro ‘badly’. Not only did they spare him; they also enabled him; and, now he pops up right in the middle of the Yonkers real estate development scandal. What a surprise!
After all, way back in 2003, before leaving office, then-Mayor John Spencer had retained Al Pirro as Yonkers’ official lobbyist, specifically tasked with the assignment of bringing qualified real estate developers to the City to help the administration that would soon be headed by his deputy, Phil Amicone, fulfill their master plan of development. Even in a culture of corruption such as Westchester, somehow Yonkers remains a standout for sheer chutzpah.
If every allegation in all 13 counts of Sandy Annabi’s federal indictment were essentially accurate, and, in fact, she benefitted to the tune of $166,000, still she would be a minor player by comparison with the likes of Al Pirro, Nick Spano, and the others at that table in New Rochelle. More likely, most of, if not all of, that cash ended up in Anthony Mangone’s, and Zehy Jereis’, accounts, well-trained soldiers in the Nick Spano mob.
As for the developers, they understand from years of doing business, that in Westchester, and particularly in Yonkers, for many decades, you don’t get the job and you don’t get through the City’s zoning, planning, and environmental approvals in a timely fashion unless you grease several palms. They simply know and accept the network of corruption as the price of doing business.
We understand the difference between those developers who can legitimately be said to have been victims of extortion, and those who routinely distribute envelopes filled with cash as a vital protocol. In either case, a serious crime has been committed when a government official has been paid off and the public trust has been breached. We are reminded of the County Courthouse at 111 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard in White Plains, where, after only 20 years, the siding was falling off the building that had been constructed by a builder brought to the project by Al Pirro. The consequences of kickbacks are often inferior materials and/or workmanship.
Given the $600-$800 million price tag on Ridge Hill alone, the notion that a clique composed of the Spano brothers (Nick and Mike), Al Pirro, Anthony Mangone and Zehy Jereis, would content themselves with a few hundred thousand dollars in ‘consulting fees’ is ludicrous. If Sandy Annabi did, in fact, accept some personal enrichment to alter her vote with respect either to the Longfellow, or the Ridge Hill projects – and that will take some serious proving – she was clearly a tool in the hands of the five political operatives and felons seated at that table with her in New Rochelle less than 24 hours before she cast her vote.
Interestingly, both Nick and Mikey Spano have now been very quick to disown and deny any association with, or knowledge of, Jereis’ or Mangone’s activities with regard to either project. However, my source is holding steadfast to the account of who they saw, where, and when. Even 1/10th of one percent of a $600 million project would involve $600,000. The United States Attorney is talking about $166,000.
Finally, Mike Edelman has been unusually talkative and ‘blogative’, even for him, since the unsealing of the Annabi Indictment. It would seem he “protesteth a bit too much”, particularly with respect to Al Pirro and the Spano brothers, not to mention Phil Amicone, also very quick to disassociate himself with strong words of denouncement.