Correction Boss Busted in Alleged Pension Scam
By Jonathan Dienst and Joe Valiquette
The FBI has arrested the leader of a powerful city union on corruption charges in an ongoing investigation focusing on the NYPD and City Hall.
Norman Seabrook, president of the Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association for the past 21 years, was arrested at his Bronx home Wednesday morning and charged with honest services fraud and conspiracy.
Investigators allege Seabrook took kickbacks in connection with his union’s pension fund investments.
Seabrook allegedly received $60,000 in payoffs and in exchange directed a total of $20 million in the union’s retirement funds to the Platinum Investment fund, according to court documents.
The former head of the fund, Murray Huberfeld, was also arrested and charged with honest services fraud and conspiracy Wednesday morning.
Seabrook was introduced to Huberfeld on Dec. 13, 2013 by an unnamed man who is now cooperating with federal investigators, according to the criminal complaint. The cooperating witness allegedly introduced the two after Seabrook complained he was not getting bribe money for investing the correction officers’ union funds, the complaint states.
So, a bribe-for-investment deal between Seabrook and Huberfeld was brokered by the cooperating witness in late December 2013. Seabrook agreed to receive two percent of the profit Platinum stood to gain off the union’s investment. Seabrook was told he would be paid between $100,000 and $150,000 annually.
After multi-million dollar investments into Platinum, Seabrook complained to the cooperating witness that he had not received the kickback money he was promised for the investment.
The witness agreed to pay Seabrook $60,000 on behalf of Platinum.
On Dec. 11, 2014, Seabrook met the cooperating witness near Ferragamo, his favorite luxury goods store in Manhattan. The witness handed Seabrook a Ferragamo bag stuffed $60,000, the complaint states.
The news comes as federal authorities investigate allegations that NYPD officers engaged in a cash-for-favors scheme, and as Mayor de Blasio’s campaign fundraising is under scrutiny. The mayor insists his fundraising followed all laws.
"If proven true, these allegations are disgusting because it means he stole money from his own members," Mayor de Blasio said about Seabrook’s arrest Wednesday.
De Blasio also said he was not worried that it may signal further troubles in the corruption probe focused on City Hall.
"What he did involves his own union and his own pension fund…if proven this is incredibly troubling," de Blasio said.
Union representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.