Two Adult Day Care Center Operators Sentenced In Manhattan Federal Court For Conspiring To Bribe New York State Assemblyman Eric Stevenson
Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that IGOR TSIMERMAN and ROSTISLAV BELYANSKY (“SLAVA”) were sentenced today in Manhattan federal court to 24 and 18 months in prison, respectively, for conspiring to pay approximately $20,000 in bribes to New York State Assemblyman Eric Stevenson in exchange for Stevenson’s official acts, including drafting, proposing, and agreeing to enact legislation that favored the bribers’ business interests. TSIMERMAN was also sentenced for conspiring to bribe former New York State Assembly member Nelson Castro. TSIMERMAN and SLAVA pleaded guilty in September 2013 before U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley III, and were both sentenced today by Judge Pauley.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “Igor Tsimerman and Rostislav Belyansky thought they could buy legislation to suit their business needs, but as these sentences show, the bribes they paid to Eric Stevenson only bought them a trip to federal prison.”
According to the Complaint and the Indictment filed in Manhattan federal court, and statements made in public proceedings:
Stevenson has served as a member of the New York State Assembly since 2011 representing District 79, which includes various Bronx neighborhoods. The four businessmen –TSIMERMAN, SLAVA, Belyansky, and Binman – are individuals who, during 2012 and 2013, were seeking 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 a second center on Jerome Avenue (the “Jerome Avenue Center”), within then-Assemblyman Castro’s Assembly District. During that time period, they paid multiple bribes to Stevenson in connection with efforts to open and operate both centers.
For example, at a meeting on July 23, 2012, Stevenson, Belyansky, and TSIMERMAN discussed the opening of the Westchester Avenue Center. During this meeting, Stevenson said that on July 26, 2012, he was “having a night [event]” for “my reelection” and that he needed “support and help like everyone else.” Subsequently, on July 25, 2012, SLAVA provided a cooperating witness (the “CW”) with a check for $2,000 made out to Stevenson’s political action committee, which the CW provided to Stevenson. Stevenson did not disclose this check as a campaign contribution as required by New York State law.
At a September 7, 2012, meeting at a Bronx steakhouse, SLAVA and Belyansky 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 an envelope, Stevenson indicated that he was concerned that there might be surveillance cameras in the restaurant, so he waited until he was outside of the restaurant to take the cash bribe. On September 18, 2012, Stevenson gave the CW a $1,500 cut of the $10,000 bribe in exchange for the CW’s assistance, and promised to pay the CW an additional $500.
On December 27, 2012, the CW met with Stevenson and showed Stevenson a copy of an email dated December 26, 2012, sent from the contractor for the Jerome Avenue Center to SLAVA and TSIMERMAN. In the email, the contractor stated that “[i]t is urgent . . . that we call the State Senator Eric Stevenson so that he can call the building department at once and ask them to have this application reviewed” in connection with getting “a permit to install the gas lines into the building.” After reviewing this email, Stevenson stated, “he’s not a smart guy . . . he’s not too bright, this guy” because “he put this in writing . . . why he got to put my name in it? . . . He shouldn’t have said that.” Stevenson said they needed to avoid creating a “paper trail.”
During that meeting, the CW and Stevenson also discussed the possibility of Stevenson 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. Stevenson told the CW: “All you gotta do is tell me what you want in the bill, and the bill drafter will put it together…I just need you to tell me what they [the co-defendants] want; we prepare the bill . . . . You can write down the language, basically what you want.” Stevenson then asked: “Are Igor [Belyansky] and them putting together a nice little package [of money] for me, huh?” He said: “I got my inauguration I gotta take care of, I got a lot of sh*t man.” Stevenson then said to the CW, in reference to the legislation, “I’m telling you, it’s done. It’s no problem.” Subsequently, the CW met with TSIMERMAN and Belyansky. TSIMERMAN said that as a result of the Moratorium Legislation, the value of their adult day care centers was “gonna skyrocket. . . . As long as [there’s a] moratorium, I can guarantee you at least a triple [in profits].”
On January 1, 2013, the CW and Stevenson spoke on the telephone and Stevenson referred to “Igor” [Belyansky] as “Santa,” in reference to the money he expected to receive. In a subsequent meeting on the same day in the CW’s car, Stevenson sought assurances that “Igor” [Belyansky] was going to “bless everything,” meaning pay Stevenson. He added that: “I got the inauguration, I want a blessing [payment] in place, man.” Two days later, the CW gave Belyansky and SLAVA a copy of a document titled “Proposed Adult Day Care Center Bill,” which contained a proposal for the Moratorium Legislation. On January 7, 2013, the CW provided the same proposal to Stevenson. Later that day, TSIMERMAN provided Stevenson with another copy of the proposal containing TSIMERMAN’s notes. On January 9, 2013, the CW told Belyansky that Stevenson wanted $10,000 for the Moratorium Legislation, with $5,000 paid up front. Two days later, on January 11, 2013, at the Westchester Avenue Center, SLAVA, TSIMERMAN, Belyansky, and Binman gave the CW $5,000 cash. The CW then left the Westchester Avenue Center with the envelope of money and got in his car where Stevenson joined him, at which time the CW gave the envelope of money to Stevenson, after taking out his $500 cut.
On January 27, 2013, Stevenson met with the CW and told the CW that he was concerned that TSIMERMAN might be cooperating with law enforcement officials and recording their conversations. Stevenson expressed a concern that if “they bring me down… somebody’s going to the cemetery.”
Stevenson had a draft of the Moratorium Legislation prepared by January 31, 2013, which he showed the CW at a meeting in his office and which was consistent with the bullet points prepared by the CW and SLAVA, TSIMERMAN, Belyansky, and Binman. 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, 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. While the CW took out his $500 cut, Stevenson walked into the bathroom of the CW’s room and left the door open so that he could receive the $4,500 cash in the bathroom.
Stevenson introduced and sponsored 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, and it is currently pending before the New York State Assembly’s Committee on Aging.
Two days later, in a meeting between the CW and TSIMERMAN, Belyansky, and Binman, Belyansky said that the legislation would double the value of his share in the Jerome Avenue and Westchester Avenue Centers from approximately $350,000 to $700,000.
In addition to prison, TSIMERMAN, 47, of Staten Island, New York, was sentenced to three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay a $10,000 fine and a 200 special assessment fee. SLAVA, 42, of Bronx, New York, was also sentenced to three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay a $2,000 fine and a $100 special assessment fee.
Stevenson was convicted on January 13, 2014, of conspiring to commit honest services wire fraud, conspiring to commit federal programs bribery and to violate the Travel Act, committing federal programs bribery, and extortion under color of official right following a six-day jury trial before U.S. District Judge Loretta A. Preska. Stevenson is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Preska on May 20, 2014.
Belyansky and Binman pled guilty in September 2013 to conspiring to commit honest services wire fraud in connection with their payment of bribes to Stevenson before Judge Pauley. They are scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Pauley on February 6, 2014.
Mr. Bharara praised the work of the investigators from the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York and the District Attorney’s Office for Bronx County.
This prosecution is being handled by the Office’s Public Corruption Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Paul M. Krieger and Brian A. Jacobs and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Pishoy Yacoub of the Bronx County District Attorney’s Office are in charge of the prosecution.