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Sunday, July 23, 2017

BREAKING: Top city deputy says Bill de Blasio fired him for intervening in his pay-to-play scheme with a big donor!

Exclusive: NY Daily News- Top official claims he was axed for complaining about City Hall's ‘inappropriate involvement’ with de Blasio donor

It seems as though Bill De Blasio likes being in the Spotlight. We all remember his escape to Germany last week to Protest President Trump 1 day after a female police officer was murdered in cold blood in his city to skipping the induction of new recruits to do the same. and now this:


A top city deputy commissioner says he was fired because he complained that City Hall inappropriately intervened on behalf of a major campaign donor to Mayor de Blasio who owed nearly $750,000 in back rent on his Queens restaurant, the Daily News has learned.
Ricardo Morales was a top deputy at the Department of Citywide Administrative Services, the agency that was pushing the donor, Harendra Singh, to cough up the loot.
And records show Singh raised $24,000 for de Blasio and held two fund-raisers for the mayor at his Long Island City restaurant, Water’s Edge. He failed to bill de Blasio’s campaign for hosting the fund-raisers, The News found.
Records reviewed by The News also show one of de Blasio’s top aides directly intervened on Singh’s behalf while he was trying to get out of paying what he owed.

Morales was a key figure at the Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) assigned to deal with Singh, who owed $747,000 in back rent on his restaurant’s lease, records show. The restaurant is on city land.

Morales was fired Feb. 24, hours after de Blasio was interviewed by federal prosecutors in their investigation of the mayor’s fund-raising tactics.
Morales’ attorney, Robert Kraus of Kraus & Zuchlewski, quietly filed a notice of claim in May that he intends to sue the city. “Ricardo Morales was fired for objecting to the pay-to-play culture that surrounded City Hall’s dealings with Harendra Singh,” Kraus said.

“City Hall punished Ricardo in a completely unprecedented manner because he refused to give in to that culture.”

A City Hall spokesman denied any wrongdoing.
“Members of this administration have acted appropriately and there’s never been a credible suggestion or shred of evidence to the contrary,” said spokesman Eric Phillips.
Morales says he was fired “because he reported violations of the NYC Charter’s conflict-of-interest rules as they pertained to City Hall’s inappropriate involvement in negotiating a complex real estate transaction and accompanying litigation” involving Singh and Water’s Edge. He specifically noted that the Water’s Edge owner was a “politically connected donor.”

Ricardo Morales was a top deputy in the agency that was pushing a de Blasio donor to pay back rent he owed to the city.

Ricardo Morales was a top deputy in the agency that was pushing a de Blasio donor to pay back rent he owed to the city.

Morales, then DCAS’ deputy commissioner for asset management, was also involved in the waiver of a deed restriction that allowed a nursing home owner to sell a Lower East Side building to a luxury condo developer.
n his notice of claim, Morales says his firing was also because he “objected to City Hall’s lack of truthfulness regarding the lifting of deed restrictions” on the lot and unspecified violations of City Charter rules.
In March, acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Joon Kim closed a yearlong investigation of de Blasio without bringing charges, but he made a point of stating that de Blasio and his aides had intervened on behalf of some of his donors. The donors weren’t named, but one of them is Singh, according to sources familiar with that investigation.
In 2014, DCAS officials, including Morales, started going after Singh for back rent. At the time, the restaurateur was well-known to Team de Blasio.
In 2011 and 2013, Singh held two fund-raisers for de Blasio at Water’s Edge — but he didn’t send the campaign a bill. He also bundled more than $24,000 in campaign checks for the mayor. In early 2014, Singh was placed on an elite list of de Blasio donors being considered for political appointments. The list, obtained by The News, shows Singh was up for a slot on the Mayor’s Fund for the City of New York and a committee to lure the Democratic convention to Brooklyn.
The document related to the potential appointments makes clear that even as they considered awarding him these plum assignments, de Blasio’s team was aware there were issues with him. Under “confidential notes,” the document notes Singh had an unspecified “vetting issue.” The document states that city Director of Intergovernmental Affairs Emma Wolfe had listed Singh as a “maybe,” and suggested calling another City Hall employee in another city agency regarding “r/flags” on Singh.
For two years, de Blasio’s campaign hadn’t paid the $2,615 bill owed for the two Water’s Edge fund-raisers.
Then in December 2014, the city Campaign Finance Board began auditing de Blasio’s campaign. It demanded documentation showing that the mayor had paid for the Water’s Edge events.
In a Feb. 19, 2015, email, on the day the documents were due to the Campaign Finance Board, de Blasio campaign staffer Sam Nagourney asked Singh for invoices. Emails show Singh ordered restaurant staffers to “please take care of this today.”
Records show Water’s Edge then provided invoices but it appears they were created long after the events.

Harendra Singh, had raised $24,000 for de Blasio and held two fundraisers for the mayor at his Long Island City restaurant.


Pressured by the Campaign Finance Board, the de Blasio campaign finally wrote a check to Singh’s restaurant for the 2011 and 2013 events — on Feb. 19, 2015.
By early 2015, Singh was in arrears to the city on back rent to the tune of $747,000 and faced penalties for his non-payment.
Records obtained by The News show that Wolfe, one of de Blasio’s most trusted aides, spoke with Singh in a Jan. 12, 2015, phone call.
A few weeks later, in February, DCAS sued Singh for the back rent. But negotiations continued that included the Office of the Mayor.
On July 30, 2015, Wolfe attended a meeting inside City Hall listed on her schedule like this: “1:30 p.m. Water’s Edge meeting COW Wolfe, Emma.” COW is Committee of the Whole, a big second-floor room on the mayor’s side of the hall
Negotiations came to a screeching halt on Sept. 9, 2015, when Singh was arrested by the FBI and charged with multiple counts of fraud. Federal prosecutors alleged he’d ripped off insurance companies, bribed a Long Island politician and defrauded the Federal Emergency Management Agency out of payments following Hurricane Sandy.
He subsequently began cooperating with the feds in the case against the Long Island politician, and reportedly against de Blasio.
Singh is set to testify against the Long Island politician in the fall.
“Any comment about Ricardo Morales’ recent Notice of Claim or Mayor de Blasio’s alleged involvement in the Water’s Edge lease would be improper due to Mr. Singh’s pending federal charges,” Singh’s lawyer, Anthony LaPinta, said Saturday night.
After Singh’s indictment, de Blasio removed him from his appointment to the Mayor’s Fund.
In his notice to the city, Morales said he is seeking $5 million, including $3.25 million in back and front pay, $250,000 for “emotional distress” and $1 million in punitive damages.

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