Who's Who in Alleged Eric Stevenson Bribery Plot

By Julie Shapiro on April 4, 2013 4:40pm 

NEW YORK — New York's political world was rocked for the second time this week with the arrest of Bronx State Assemblyman Eric Stevenson on bribery charges Thursday morning.

The alleged scheme involved a wide cast of allegedly corrupt characters and moves that sound like they were torn from a political thriller, including envelopes filled with cash in return for legislative favors.

Thursday's arrests came just two days after authorities arrested six political officials including State Sen. Malcolm Smith and City Councilman Dan Halloran in an unrelated scheme involving the mayoral race.

Here's a look at who's who in the latest federal bust:

Eric Stevenson

Eric Stevenson is a Democratic state assemblyman from The Bronx who was charged Thursday with taking more than $22,000 in cash bribes in return for helping the owners of adult daycare centers in The Bronx.

Stevenson, 46, is accused of asking for envelopes of cash in exchange for expediting the construction of daycare centers for senior citizens, speeding the installation of a Con Edison gas line and making calls to get a certificate of occupancy from the Department of Buildings, prosecutors said.

Stevenson allegedly also got a big payday when he agreed to sponsor legislation creating a moratorium on building and opening new adult daycare centers in New York City, eliminating competition for the center owners who were allegedly greasing his palm, according to the criminal complaint.

After getting an envelope with $5,000 cash on Jan. 11 and another envelope with $5,000 on Feb. 16, prosecutors said, Stevenson introduced the moratorium bill in the New York State Assembly on Feb. 20, where it was still pending this week.

As the bribery plot deepened, Stevenson began to worry about getting caught, believing one of the daycare center owners was working with authorities.

On Jan. 27, he told a cooperating witness, if "they bring me down...somebody’s going to the cemetery," according to the complaint.

Stevenson was arrested Thursday and charged with bribery, bribery conspiracy and conspiracy to deprive New York State and its citizens of services.

He was elected in 2010 and represents the 79th District, which covers Morrisania and East Tremont. He previously worked for City Council Speaker Christine Quinn for three years.

Nelson Castro, aka Assemblyman 1

Nelson Castro is a Democratic state assemblyman from The Bronx who resigned Thursday after helping federal authorities with the bribery investigation that busted Assemblyman Eric Stevenson.

Castro, 41, turned informant more than a year ago after being charged with unrelated felonies for allegedly lying about registering nine voters illegally from his home, several years ago, officials said.

Thanks to the deal Castro struck with authorities, the charges against him will be dropped, but he agreed to step down from office.

Castro was already working for feds in early 2012 when a representative of adult daycare center owners handed over a wad of cash in hope of securing political favors, according to the criminal complaint.

Then, in May 2012, Castro met with Stevenson and assured Stevenson that he had "worked with" the go-between, according to the complaint.

Castro was seen as a rising star in the city's political world and in 2008 was the first Dominican American to be elected to public office in The Bronx. But he was indicted on perjury charges in July 2009 and became an informant for the federal government.

He represented the 86th District, which covers University Heights, Tremont and Fordham.

Igor Belyansky

Igor Belyansky is one of four adult daycare center owners in The Bronx accused of bribing state Assemblyman Eric Stevenson in return for favors.

After Stevenson allegedly agreed to expedite construction on a Jerome Avenue adult daycare center on Sept. 7, 2012, Belyansky handed Stevenson an envelope with $10,000 in cash, according to the criminal complaint.

In a Jan. 1, 2013 phone conversation, Stevenson referred to Belyansky as "Santa," because of the money Stevenson expected to get.

Belyansky, 42, a Bronx resident, was arrested Thursday and charged with bribery, bribery conspiracy and conspiracy to deprive New York State and its citizens of services.

Rostislav "Slava" Belyansky

Rostislav "Slava" Belyansky is one of four adult daycare center owners in The Bronx accused of bribing state Assemblyman Eric Stevenson in return for favors.

Belyansky, referred to as "Slava" in the criminal complaint, is accused of funneling cash to an unnamed cooperating witness who then gave it to Stevenson.

At a Sept. 7, 2012 meeting, Belyansky offered to pay Stevenson $10,000 if Stevenson helped with the construction of a Jerome Avenue adult daycare center. Stevenson agreed to call Con Edison to expedite the installation of a gas line, and he also promised to help get the center a certificate of occupancy from the Department of Buildings, according to the complaint.

Belyansky, 42, a Bronx resident, was arrested Thursday and charged with bribery, bribery conspiracy and conspiracy to deprive New York State and its citizens of services.

Igor Tsimerman

Igor Tsimerman is one of four adult daycare center owners in The Bronx accused of bribing state Assemblyman Eric Stevenson in return for favors.

Tsimerman allegedly helped convince Stevenson to sponsor legislation that would put a moratorium on new adult daycare centers in New York City, to benefit the centers that Tsimerman and his colleagues owned, according to the criminal complaint.

Tsimerman sent Stevenson notes on an initial version of the legislation on Jan. 7, prosecutors said.

Thanks to the bill, Tsimerman predicted that the value of his daycare centers was "gonna skyrocket…. As long as [there's a] moratorium, I can guarantee you at least a triple [in profits]."

Tsimerman, 46, a Staten Island resident, surrendered Thursday and was charged with bribery, bribery conspiracy and conspiracy to deprive New York State and its citizens of services.

David Binman

David Binman is one of four adult daycare center owners in The Bronx accused of bribing state Assemblyman Eric Stevenson in return for favors.

Binman and his three colleagues allegedly handed $5,000 in cash to an unnamed cooperating witness Jan. 11, and the witness then passed the cash along to Stevenson, according to the criminal complaint.

The money was a bribe in exchange for Stevenson's plan to introduce legislation putting a moratorium on new adult daycare centers in the city, effectively giving Binman and his colleagues a local monopoly, prosecutors said.

Binman, 51, a Glendale, Queens resident, was arrested Thursday and charged with bribery, bribery conspiracy and conspiracy to deprive New York State and its citizens of services.

Cooperating Witness

A cooperating witness, who has not been named, played an integral role in the federal takedown of Assemblyman Eric Stevenson.

The witness, who previously ran unsuccessfully for the Assembly, served as a go-between, working with adult daycare center operators in The Bronx to bribe Stevenson, according to the criminal complaint.

The witness helped arrange a $10,000 cash payment to Stevenson in return for Stevenson expediting construction on adult daycare centers, prosecutors said. Stevenson got another $10,000 after promising to introduce legislation to stop competing daycare centers from opening, according to the complaint.

The witness got a cut of the cash payments after delivering them, totaling about $2,000.

Initially, the cooperating witness had tried to arrange similar bribes for Assemblyman Nelson Castro, but Castro was already working for prosecutors.

Afer being found out in the sting, the witness flipped and began working for investigators that April, according to the criminal complaint.

After peading guilty to bribery, he agreed to cooperate with feds "in the hopes of obtaining leniency in any forthcoming sentence," the complaint says.

For years, the witness had worked for Igor and Rostislav Belyansky, who were both arrested Thursday.

Edward Stevenson Sr.

Edward Stevenson Sr., the late former state assemblyman, was the grandfather of State Assemblyman Eric Stevenson, who was arrested on bribery charges Thursday.

Eric Stevenson is accused of taking bribes from four adult daycare center owners in The Bronx, who funneled him thousands of dollars in cash in return for political favors for the daycare centers.

The daycare center owners promised to name one of the new centers after Edward Stevenson Sr., to thank Eric Stevenson for his support, according to the criminal complaint.

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