Tuesday, October 03, 2006

"Dems' Bx Chief: I'm Graft Dodger" NY Post 10/03/06

Yo, Rivera, what ya gonna do with that Yankee slush fund?



October 3, 2006 -- Bronx Democratic boss José Rivera yesterday insisted he had never abused his power - after learning he was the subject of an FBI probe of real-estate dealings in the borough.

"I have never used or abused my position," a shocked Rivera said outside his University Heights home. "This is the first I have heard of this."

The veteran state assemblyman said he learned of the Public Corruption Unit investigation in yesterday's Post.

Rivera said his only dealings with developers in The Bronx had occurred through city administrators in charge of real-estate projects.

"I've never dealt with developers personally," he said. "These projects have been done with the knowledge and the assistance of the city."

Sources told The Post that a Manhattan federal grand jury had handed down subpoenas for government and business records as it looks into Rivera and a well-known party lawyer, Stanley Schlein.

Schlein, who has worked as a Democratic lobbyist and advocate for development projects in The Bronx, has also denied any knowledge of the investigation.

Both Schlein and Rivera were involved in lobbying for the approval of plans for the new, $1 billion Yankee Stadium.

A Yankee spokeswoman declined to comment, but sources close to the team said that the new stadium wasn't part of the probe and that they hadn't received any subpoenas.

The pair also worked together to lobby for approval of a $1.5 billion water-filtration plant underneath Van Cortlandt Park. As part of the waterworks deal, The Bronx stands to get $240 million for its parks.

A spokesman for the city's Department of Environmental Protection did not respond to The Post's inquiries as to whether the department had received a subpoena for records or if it was a subject of the probe.

Rivera said he had no business relationship with Schlein and had not discussed the federal probe with him.

"I have not spoken to him, but I think he is just as surprised as I am," Rivera said.

Spokesman Michael Nieves said the assemblyman had also advocated for the $40 million redevelopment of the Terminal Market.

Nieves said neither he nor the assemblyman had a clue as to which deal or deals the federal grand jury was probing.

"It would be wrong for us to try and predict which one it is," Nieves said.

Rivera said all three developments had helped revitalize The Bronx.

"I haven't done anything wrong," he said. "They are good projects, and they create jobs."



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