Trials & Litigation

Jury acquits 2 lawyers and developer in federal housing kickback case

A real estate developer and two lawyers who served as his partners were acquitted Tuesday by a federal jury in Brooklyn on charges that they had participated in a kickback scheme that involved a top New York City housing official.

The former housing official testified he had received about $2.5 million in cash bribes, home renovations and vacations over the course of a decade, including $5,000 from one of the defendants, developer Stevenson Dunn. And a general contractor told the jury that Dunn and the two attorneys, Michael Freeman and Lee Hymowitz, had solicited a $450,000 bribe from him, according to the New York Daily News and the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.).

However, the jury found all three innocent Tuesday after a three-week trial and about a day of deliberations. Two members of the panel who declined to give their names told the Wall Street Journal that the feds had failed to prove the complex case in which Dunn was charged with attempted extortion and racketeering conspiracy and the two attorneys faced mail and wire fraud charges.

For example, general contractor Bogdan Starzecki said he paid bribes by padding forms seeking city and federal reimbursement, but prosecutors didn’t prove that claim, the two jurors said.

“OK, show me where it was inflated,” one said. “Show me where on the requisition, what they changed. You can go through it line by line. We were there for almost a month. I needed to see the evidence.”

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