2008-04-10 / Front Page

ASSEMBLYWOMAN GETS THE BOOT

By Neil S. Friedman

By Neil S. Friedman

Former Assemblywoman Diane Gordon
Four-term Albany legislator Diane Gordon was immediately removed from office on Tuesday after a jury convicted her on eight of nine counts of bribery and official misconduct, which carry a maximum penalty of ten years in prison, according to Sandy Silverstein, a spokesperson for the Brook-lyn District Attorney's office. He said she was ac-quitted of one count of conspiracy. The disgraced politician will be sentenced next month.

Gordon, 57, a former Assembly member who represented parts of Canarsie, Brownsville and East New York, was convicted of helping steer city pro-perty in her 40th district to a corrupt developer in exchange for building her a $500,000 "dream" home for one dollar. However, the developer was working undercover for the city's Department of Investigation over a ten-month period and used a hidden camera to video tape conversations with her about the house she wanted in a gated Queens community just over the Brooklyn border. The developer agreed to cooperate and wear a wire, as he sought leniency after he was caught trying to bribe an undercover investigator in another matter.

According to media reports, on one tape Gordon told the builder, "One hand washes the other" while she showed him the vacant parcel, worth an estimated $2 million, on New Lots Avenue, not far from her district office.

During the three-week trial that began last month, Gordon and her attorney maintained she was man-ipulated by authorities and entrapped by Ranjan Batheja, the bogus developer. But, when the verdict was announced in a Downtown Brooklyn court-room it was clear the jury disallowed that claim.

At a press conference after the trial, Investiga-tions Department Commissioner Rose Gill Hearn said, "As an elected official Gordon was supposed to work for the best interests of her Brooklyn community. Instead she marketed herself as a corrupt legislator ready to help a private builder unlawfully acquire city-owned land…"

Brooklyn DA Charles Hynes said, "She violated her oath and flagrantly violated her constituents' trust."

A former public school teacher and District 19 school board member, Gordon had been active in her East New York community since 1985. She was first elected to the state assembly in 1996.

Four months after she was indicted in 2006, Gordon was reelected with 90 percent of the vote.

Under state law, legislators must be removed from office immediately after being convicted of a felony. Gordon's seat will remain vacant until an interim replacement is named. Her Assembly Web page photo and biographical information were quickly removed after the conviction was announced.

 

 

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