The donor Mayor Bill de Blasio now blasts as “a liar and a felon” was once considered a “brother,” new emails show.
“Today we celebrated our dream. I couldn’t be more proud to have you by my side,” the mayor wrote Jona Rechnitz in January 2014, before the donor pleaded guilty to bribing cops and public officials. “Please call me tomorrow to setup a meeting for early next week. I need you to accept the position I offered you. Love you brother.”
The email, which Hizzoner sent Rechnitz the day after his inauguration, was released in a court filing intended to convince a Manhattan federal judge to OK a request to call the mayor to testify in an NYPD bribery trial, where Rechnitz is the key witness.
The trial pits Rechnitz against his former pals, fellow Blasio donor Jeremy Reichberg and ex-NYPD Deputy Inspector James Grant, with claims that he teamed up with Reichberg to bribe cops, including Grant, as well as public officials.
Grant’s lawyer is seeking to call the mayor to the witness stand in an effort to discredit Rechnitz by throwing water on Rechnitz’s claims that he was granted special favors from City Hall after he and Reichberg raised money for de Blasio’s 2013 election.
“Based on the Mayor’s public comments, we expect him to testify that no ‘official acts’ …were undertaken in exchange for bribes or donations,” lawyer John Meringolo said. “This would discredit Mr. Rechnitz’s entire testimony.”
The city’s Law Department has asked to quash the subpoena on the grounds that de Blasio “does not have unique first-hand knowledge of information regarding Mr. Rechnitz’s credibility or character.”
But Meringolo pointed to their once warm email exchanges — contrasted by de Blasio’s more recent statement calling Rechnitz a “liar and a felon” — to argue that the mayor has a lot to say about the government’s key witness.
“The emails are nothing new or interesting, and they are not our focus,” de Blasio spokesman Eric Phillips said. “It’s absurd to think the Mayor took his advice on policing or international relations.”
Other emails between de Blasio and Rechnitz filed late Tuesday include:
- An April 1, 2014, email from Rechnitz about his “candidate” for a new Department of Buildings Commissioner. “I’m all ears, Jona,” the mayor replies. “We’ve actually been looking for additional candidates.”
- A June 2, 2014, email from the mayor wishing Rechnitz and his wife well on the birth of a new baby. “Mozel Tov! The best to and Rachel,” the mayor said.
- A Jan. 8, 2014, email from Rechnitz suggesting de Blasio attend a NYPD meeting on crime statistics followed by Rechnitz stating, “Heard you took my suggestion,” followed by a smiley face.
- An April 28, 2014, email from Rechnitz requesting to be on a committee that combats police corruption followed by some redacted stuff followed by a June 29, 2014, email from Rechnitz asking “When do I start?” on the commission.
Of course, Rechnitz has admitted to doctoring emails before to make his relationship with Hizzoner appear more impressive than it actually was.
In 2014, for example, Rechnitz edited an email he sent to de Blasio to make it appear he was blasting the mayor for not helping his friend, Andrew Penson, with a request to build above Grant Central.
“How can you allow this to happen under your watch and embarrass me like this? When I introduced you to Andrew, I told you he is a very close friend, like family. I expect you to take this matter seriously or this will become a PR disaster for you and your administration,” the fake email said.
“Zowie, you got big ones,” Penson responded after Rechnitz forwarded the imaginary scolding.
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