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Bank Beat

Freedom of Information

Hedge Fund Briber and Philanthropist Huberfeld Case Transferred in SDNY as COBA Pursues

By Matthew Russell Lee, Periscope video

NEW YORK CITY, Dec 18 – Four days after Norman Seabrook, former head of the NYC Corrections Officers union, was sentenced to 58 months in prison by U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein for taking bribes to steer union money into the failed Platinum hedge fund.

 Platinum's Murray Huberfeld received a 30 month sentence for his role in the bribery. That was on February 12, 2019 and is described below.

But now on December 18, 2020, Huberfeld having appealed reappeared before another SDNY Judge, Lewis L. Liman. (Seabrook's case is still before Judge Hellerstein). This one was virtual, given that pandemic. Huberfeld's lawyers are in email fight, conveyed to Judge Liman, with the COBA union about restitution. Now comes resentencing, with memos due in February with the sentencing on February 25 - probably virtual, but who knows.

  Back in February 2019 the physical SDNY courtroom of Judge Hellerstein was filled with Huberfeld's family and supporters, and the testimony even from the government was full of references to his donations, many of them anonymous. Huberfeld arranged for the search and discovered of a drowned boy in Australia. He rehabilitated houses in Moncie, New York for the large families characteristic of the Orthodox community - and some resold them for big profits. Huberfeld was also depicted as having another person take the registered representative test for him, and reached two settlements with the SEC.

  "Why do good people do bad things?" SDNY Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein mused, as he had on February 8 before passing sentence on Seabrook. He took a similar 10 minute break. Inner City Press rushed down to get its electronics and do a Periscope broadcast, here; a similarly descending clairvoyant predicted that "long winded" Hellerstein would come out at 30 months. And so it was. He initially ordered $19 million restitution then stayed that, too. Huberfeld's lawyers noted they would argue on appeal that only the $60,000 bribe money was the appropriate figure for restitution. They said Huberfeld's recited commitment to pay back $7 million to the union was based on him remaining free. Now he will remain free, at least pending appeal.

   Huberfeld's mother, who was in the courtroom, is a Holocaust survivor. Judge Hellerstein described her hiding under an animal trough and asked, How can people be so cruel? Huberfeld too teared up while addressing hte court, asking to be allowed to remain free to serve people for example through a soup kitchen program he has been working with. Judge Hellerstein called him one of the most nobel defendants to ever appear before him - then imposed the (delayed) 30 month sentence.

  On the government side prosecutor Martin Bell brought up former New York Knicks basketball player Charles Oakley, who had been in the courthouse supporting Normal Seabrook on February 8 (Inner City Press photos on Alamy here, Periscope below); he quoted Knicks coach Pat Riley's book about success being a danger for a team and said it applied to Huberfeld. This is a New York case we will continue to follow, along with other cases. On February 8, a victim's statement to the court cited what it called Seabrook's racist rant on YouTube.

   Afterward on Worth Street Inner City Press asked Seabrook about the YouTube video - actually, an audio file with an array of still photographs.  Seabrook told Inner City Press they doctored it to make him look bad. His (actual) answer on Periscope here - and here now audio file on YouTube, here.

  In the SDNY courtroom it was cognitive dissonance: Norman Seabrook who rose from poverty to head of a union with 10,000 members, who endorsed Michael Bloomberg; Norman Seabrook who asked for tens of thousands of dollars to steer union money into a Cayman Islands hedge fund which failed.

  Prosecutor Martin Bell referred to a Ferragamo bag visible in Seabrook's house for months. When Seabrook spoke he said it was a gift with cigars, taking a cigar out of his suit jacket.

Seabrook's lawyer Paul Shechtman cited Seabrook's work on the so-called feces bill to make throwing excrement at a corrections officer a felony. On the hand Seabrook was accused of threatening his board members with returning to work in a prison as punishment, and of going after anyone who dared run against or otherwise oppose him. Seabrook felt that it was his time to get paid, that he was bigger than the cause he began fighting for, Bell said.

Shechtman also spoke after the sentencing. Inner City Press asked him about Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein's seeming reversal of an initial position that it would be hard to leave Seabrook out on bail pending appeal. Shechtman replied affably that he had to win something, after the 58 month sentence.  Video here.

  An issue on a appeal will be whether Seabrook's second jury should have heard about the $19 million loss.

 Inner City Press asked Shechtman about the restitution, how much would be paid by hedge funders Murray Huberfeld,  Jona Rechnitz and perhaps (Judge Hellerstein indicated) Jeremy Reichberg. Shechtman told Inner City Press, If Norman wins $19 million in the lottery, we'll have about that. For now, $2500 is due in 60 days, through the SDNY Clerk, for the union. We'll have more on this.

   Exiting the courthouse after Seabrook, with a bag of Utz potato chips and a copy of the Daily News was New York Knicks icon Charles Oakley. He said that there are others who need to be locked up as well, and that the Knicks need better players. There was no rebuttal. Periscope video here.

Upcoming in the SDNY is a recently-filed complaint by the Bangladesh Central Bank for the $81 million hacking of its funds, which were then wired through the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, a case that Inner City Press will cover. Times change. Watch this site.


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