Norman Seabook, President of the New York Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association (AKA COBA) and a fixture on New York Mets radio broadcasts for the last 2 seasons may soon find himself facing no-foolin’ imprisonment. Just a day after 5 of Seabrook’s union members were convicted of assaulting a Riker’s Island inmate, Seabrook himself was arrested and charged with accepting bribes in exchange for investing union money with a New York-based hedge fund. From New York’s Jen Kirby :
FBI agents busted Seabroook, who’s led the 9,000-plus-member Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association for 21 years, at 6 a.m. today at his Bronx home. Another defendant, hedge-fund manager Murray Huberfeld, was also arrested in connection with this case. Seabrook is accused of steering $20 million from the corrections’ union’s pension fund into Huberfeld’s Platinum Partners firm. Huberfeld allegedly returned the favor by giving Seabrook as much as $150,000 in kickbacks, according to the New York Daily News. Both men are formally charged with honest wire fraud and conspiracy to commit honest wire fraud.
Another person — identified by sources as Jona Rechnitz, a businessman who’s also at the center of one of the inquiries into de Blasio’s fundraising — has already pleaded guilty to charges in connection with the case, and is cooperating with authorities in exchange for leniency. According to the criminal complaint, Rechnitz, who was cozy with Seabrook and other high-ranking NYPD officials, introduced the two men in late 2013, after Seabrook had complained that he got no financial perks from his work investing the unions’ retirement funds. (It’s time “Norman Seabrook got paid,” he allegedly told Rechnitz.) Rechnitz acted as the go-between to deliver the alleged bribes from Huberfeld, including buying a Ferragamo bag — Seabrook’s “favorite luxury goods store,” according to the complaint — and stuffing it with $60,000 in cash to deliver to the union chief.
Mayor de Blasio condemned Seabrook in unequivocal terms Wednesday, calling the allegations “disgusting.” “It means he took money that was meant for his workers’ retirements and put it in his own pocket,” he said. Seabrook has been suspended from his post, according to the mayor’s office.