2006-07-13 / Front Page

POLITICIAN CHARGED IN BRIBERY RAP

Assemblywoman Diane Gordon
Assemblywoman Diane Gordon By Charles Rogers

A state legislator whose district covers parts of Canarsie and East New York, has been indicted by prosecutors from the office of Kings County District Attorney Charles Hynes on charges ranging from conspiracy to bribery to official misconduct.

Three-term Assemblywoman Diane Gordon was arraigned on Monday in State Supreme Court after allegedly being caught on tape demanding that a developer build her a $500,000 home in Ozone Park, Queens in return for using her influence to see that he gets first choice on a vacant lot on Livonia Avenue in East New York.

The indictment charges her on eight counts altogether. Although one report indicated she was released on $35,000 bail, other documents say she was released Monday on her own recognizance.

Gordon, whose 40th Assembly District encompasses parts of Seaview Village and Starrett City, was accused on October 21, 2004 and November 22, 2005, along with attorney Mitch Alter and Gordon's mother, Helen Staggers, of bribery. According to the indictment, she "did agree to engage in, and cause the performance of such conduct," which consisted of the solicitation of monies in return for influence with regard to a public application of property.

As shown on every local broadcast television channel Monday, Gordon was caught redhanded on videotape making comments like, "Don't discuss it with your friends" and, "I want these things to be delivered to you where I can get a home almost for little or nothing..."

The legislator was taped during the conversations by an unnamed developer, who volunteered to wear a video camera in his lapel during their seven meetings.

Gordon was originally indicted by a grand jury last year but, according to sources, prosecutors said they would hold the charges if she would work with them and others investigating corruption on a wide basis. Another part of the bargain was that she would resign and never run for office again.

The charges were reinstated when she made the announcement last week that she was going to run for a fourth term.

During a news conference on Monday, officials of the city's Department of Investigation played the tapes, which, the district attorney alleges, indicated she bartered with the developer about the vacant lot, which was intended for public housing and valued at about $2 million.

"If you want a dream to come true, you've gotta keep your mouth shut," she is heard saying on the tape.

It was charged that the money would be funneled through Gordon's 72-year-old mother, Helen. When the tape shows the developer peeling off $50 bills from a handful of cash, the listener can hear Gordon saying, "I want you to feel comfortable in the sense that it will make you comfortable when you get a reward and I get a reward and we can work together better."

The counts against the legislator include: conspiracy in the fourth degree; bribe receiving in the second and third degrees; two counts of official misconduct; receiving bribes by a member of the legislature; unlawful fees and payments; receiving reward for official misconduct in the second degree; and receiving unlawful gratuities.

Gordon is due to answer the charges in court in November.

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