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City's Mob Watchdog Gave Contract to Shady Consultants, Lawsuit Says

By James Fanelli | April 23, 2013 6:53am | Updated on April 23, 2013 11:42am

HUNTS POINT — The city watchdog agency that roots out mob influence in public markets awarded an oversight contract to a firm run by not such goodfellas, a new lawsuit charges.

The city's Business Integrity Commission gave a $100,000 contract to Long Island-based Global Consulting LLC to perform a review of the Hunts Point Terminal's public safety department in 2009. But the businesses operating the terminal's market claim in a lawsuit filed Monday in Bronx Supreme Court that Global has two principals — Theodore Leb and Howard Weinberg — who have had run-ins with the law and were once busted impersonating federal agents.

The businesses, known collectively as the Hunts Point Terminal Produce Cooperative Association, are suing the BIC for $500,000, claiming the commission hired an unqualified consultant and failed in its mission.

"It seems incredulous that a quasi-law enforcement agency (BIC), professedly focused on investigating companies and their principals to determine their business integrity, including possible links to organized crime, could have failed to uncover the circumstances regarding Global and Messrs. Leb and Weinberg," the lawsuit says.

The BIC, which works to keep organized crime out of public marketplaces, regulates the Hunts Point Terminal's produce market. As part of its registration renewal with the BIC in 2009, the cooperative association was required to pay for a consultant that the commission chose.

The BIC selected Global out of several security consulting firms bidding on the contract. But the cooperative claims it was kept it in the dark about how BIC made its choice. The cooperative also accuses the then-chairman of BIC, Michael Mansfield, of having a "long relationship with the principals of Global."

The lawsuit says that Global did a poor job and the cooperative was "shocked by the superficial nature" of its final report. The allegedly shoddy work spurred the cooperative to hire its own investigators, who found that Leb and Weinberg had shady pasts, the suit says.

Leb was arrested in 2004 at JFK Airport for flashing a fake badge and claiming he was a federal agent after getting into a tussle with a married man he had been tailing as a private detective, according to the lawsuit. He received a violation for improper possession of police identification and surrendered his gun permit, the suit adds.

Weinberg was also busted for a bogus badge, the lawsuit says. The disposition of his case was not known.

Additionally, Leb was arrested in Miami in 1993 for misdemeanor battery, according to the lawsuit. Global's lawyer, Joe Conway, told DNAinfo.com New York that the charge was eventually dismissed after he completed a deferred prosecution program.

Leb was also charged in Queens in 1974 with criminal possession of stolen property and unauthorized use of a vehicle. Conway said Leb ultimately received an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal.

Weinberg pleaded guilty in 2000 to fourth-degree grand larceny and received five months probation and was ordered to pay $23,000 in restitution, the lawsuit says.

In 2001, Leb and Weinberg were also accused of defrauding financial institutions, but the charges were later dismissed, according to the lawsuit.

Conway stressed that Leb doesn't have a criminal conviction and that all the charges against him were either dropped or reduced to less than a misdemeanor.

The attorney noted that Weinberg had left Global before it bid on the contract. He added that while Weinberg was a "key employee," he was never a principal at the firm.

Conway added that Global's report on the Hunts Point Terminal was prepared by a former NYPD deputy commissioner and a retired deputy chief.

"It was done by two reputable law enforcement people," Conway said.

The lawyer didn't know whether Mansfield had a prior relationship with Global, but said the firm won the contract fairly.

"Global has many law enforcement relationships," he said. "The contract was bidded out. There were several bids. Mansfield picked global for whatever reasons."

BIC spokesman Jayant Kairam did not address the previous charges against Leb and Weinberg, but said his agency selected Global after a rigorous bidding process.

“The Business Integrity Commission contacted nearly two dozen firms in the search for a consulting firm to review the operations of the Hunts Point Terminal Produce Cooperative Associations’ Department of Public Safety," Kairam said.  "The review process whittled this pool down to the selected firm. Joseph P. Dunne, a retired First Deputy Commissioner of the NYPD under Mayor Giuliani and Thomas Belfiore, a retired NYPD Deputy Chief, were selected as part of a team of consultants and prepared the final report."

Leb has been a big booster of law enforcement and has helped run the Finest Foundation, a nonprofit that fetes cops and gives money for police scholarships.

In 1996, then-NYPD Police Commissioner William Bratton named him an honorary deputy commissioner. Leb surrendered the badge and sirens that came with the title when he was busted for impersonating a federal agent.

The cooperative association declined to comment on its lawsuit.