Co-Owner Of Adult Day Care Centers In New York City Pleads Guilty To Conspiring To Bribe New York State Assemblymember Eric Stevenson And Former Assemblymember Nelson Castro
Preet Bharara, United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that IGOR BELYANSKY pled guilty today in Manhattan federal court to conspiring to bribe New York State Assemblymember Eric Stevenson in connection with a scheme to obtain Stevenson’s assistance in drafting, proposing, and agreeing to enact legislation favorable to BELYANSKY’s business. BELYANSKY also pled guilty to conspiring to bribe former New York State Assemblymember Nelson Castro. BELYANSKY was arrested in April 2013, and pled guilty before U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley III.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “Igor Belyansky tried to corrupt the legislative process by bribing two New York state lawmakers, and attempted to buy from one of them a self-serving law designed to advance his own business interests. As the prosecution of this case shows, our Office will do everything in its power to ensure that democracy is not for sale in New York. With his guilty plea today, Belyansky becomes the first defendant to admit his role in this egregious scheme.”
According to the allegations contained in the Complaint, the Superseding Indictment, and statements made in court:
Stevenson has served as a member of the New York State Assembly since 2011 representing District 79, which includes various neighborhoods in the Bronx. Castro is a former member of the New York Assembly who has been cooperating in this investigation. In August 2013, pursuant to a cooperation agreement, Castro pled guilty in federal court to making false statements to law enforcement agents and also pled guilty in state court to committing perjury in connection with registering New York City residents to vote.
BELYANSKY and co-defendants Rostislav Belyansky (a/k/a “Slava”), Igor Tsimerman, and David Binman are business partners who, during 2012 and 2013, were trying to open and manage adult day care centers in the Bronx, New York, including a center on Westchester Avenue (the “Westchester Avenue Center”), within Stevenson’s Assembly District, and another center on Jerome Avenue (the “Jerome Avenue Center”), within Castro’s Assembly District. In connection with their efforts to open and operate both centers, BELYANSKY, together with Slava, Tsimerman, and Binman, made cash bribe payments to Stevenson. BELYANSKY and Tsimerman also made a cash bribe payment to Castro, who was cooperating with the Government at the time.
At a January 27, 2012 meeting at a restaurant in the Bronx, BELYANSKY and Tsimerman paid Castro $12,000 in cash in exchange for Castro’s assistance in helping BELYANSKY and Tsimerman open an adult day care center in Castro’s district. Immediately following this meeting, Castro met with an individual who was working with BELYANSKY, Tsimerman, Slava, and Binman on their adult day care centers and who later began cooperating with the Government (the “CW”). Castro told the CW, in sum and substance, “Whatever [Tsimerman and BELYANSKY] need, legislatively, whatever. . . . .” The CW interrupted Castro and stated in sum and substance, “they call me. I call you. That’s it and it’s how we work.”
At a September 7, 2012 meeting at a steakhouse in the Bronx, BELYANSKY and Slava offered to pay Stevenson $10,000 in exchange for calling Con Edison to expedite the installation of a gas line and assisting with obtaining a Certificate of Occupancy from the New York City Buildings Department at the Jerome Avenue Center, and for assistance recruiting senior citizens to attend the Westchester Avenue Center. Stevenson agreed, but when BELYANSKY attempted to hand him the $10,000 in cash in an envelope, Stevenson indicated that he was concerned that there might be surveillance cameras in the restaurant, so the transaction was conducted outside. Outside the restaurant, BELYANSKY handed Stevenson the envelope of cash, after which Stevenson stuffed the envelope into his front pants pocket and covered his front pocket with the bottom of his shirt.
On January 9, 2013, the CW told BELYANSKY that Stevenson wanted $10,000 for introducing legislation that would establish a temporary moratorium on the construction and/or opening of new adult day care centers (the “Moratorium Legislation”), which would have the effect of eliminating competition with the Jerome Avenue Center and the Westchester Avenue Center, thereby substantially increasing the profits earned by those two centers. Two days later, on January 11, 2013, at the Westchester Avenue Center, BELYANSKY, Slava, Tsimerman, and Binman gave the CW $5,000 cash to be delivered to Stevenson.
Stevenson had a draft of the Moratorium Legislation prepared by January 31, 2013, which he showed the CW at a meeting in his office. On February 11, 2013, Stevenson told the CW: “We got the bill [the Moratorium Legislation] back today . . . [t]he bill is done now, it’s going out to the members . . . to the committee and . . . we’re gonna . . . try to push it to get it to the floor.” On February 16, 2013, in a hotel room in Albany, Slava gave $5,000 in cash to the CW, which the CW gave to Stevenson after taking a $500 cut.
Stevenson introduced and sponsored Assembly Bill Number A05139, which places a temporary moratorium on the construction and/or opening of new adult day care centers within New York City, on February 20, 2013.
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BELYANSKY, 42, of the Bronx, New York, pled guilty to conspiring to commit honest services wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and three years of supervised release. He also pled guilty to travel act conspiracy, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and three years of supervised release. BELYANSKY further agreed to forfeit any proceeds of his crimes and to pay restitution in an amount ordered by the Court. BELYANSKY will be sentenced by Judge Pauley on January 24, 2014, at 2:00 p.m.
The charges against Stevenson, Slava, Tsimerman, and Binman remain pending and are merely accusations. Those defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Mr. Bharara expressed his appreciation for the outstanding efforts of the Bronx County District Attorney's Office, the partner in this case.
This prosecution is being handled by the Office’s Public Corruption Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Paul M. Krieger and Brian A. Jacobs and Assistant District Attorney Pishoy Yacoub of the Bronx County District Attorney’s Office are in charge of the prosecution.