Two former Nassau County legislators and a former Town of North Hempstead official may be headed to jail after a judge denied a motion by their lawyers to set aside their convictions in an alleged bid-rigging scheme relating to a redevelopment project in New Cassel.
Nassau County Supreme Court Judge Alan Honorof ruled last week to deny a motion to set aside the convictions of Roger Corbin and Patrick Williams – both former Nassau County Legislators – and Neville Mullings, the former executive director for the Town of North Hempstead’s Community Development Agency, according to court papers filed Tuesday.
“Now that the court has rejected the defendants’ baseless challenges to the verdict, they can be held accountable for their crimes, which violated not only the law but the public trust," Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice said Thursday. The men are due in court next month for sentencing.
All three had been indicted and subsequently convicted of criminal charges stemming from what prosecutors described as “a large-scale bid-rigging and bribery scheme” to allegedly steer the multimillion-dollar New Cassel Redevelopment Project to a selected developer.
Prosecutors had charged that Corbin received approximately $217,000 from developer Ranjan Batheja “with the understanding that his actions would be influenced thereby,” according to court documents. The official misconduct charge against him stemmed from a call he allegedly placed to a representative of Bank of New York – which was considering foreclosing on one of Batheja’s loans – lobbying them to allow him to keep the project.
“The call was an illegal use of Corbin’s influence as a county legislator,” Assistant District Attorney Karen Bennett said in a court filing. “In the phone message, not only did Corbin identify himself as a Nassau County official, but he spoke as if he had the authority to declare that the County’s position was that Batheja should stay with the redevelopment project.”
Mullings’ conviction had stemmed from a private meeting he allegedly had, during which prosecutors said he offered to steer the community development agency’s board to vote for a particular developer.
Mullings’ defense attorney, Frederick Brewington, argued in motion papers that Batheja was not credible, had been caught “lying under oath” and was even taken out of court in handcuffs after being found in contempt.
“The court’s finding that Mr. Batheja had provided knowingly false testimony and determining him to be in contempt of court and not worthy of belief, should have granted defendants’ motion to strike the entire trial testimony of Mr. Batheja,” Brewington said.
Corbin was found guilty of second-degree bribe receiving and official misconduct, which could land him behind bars for up to 15 years, according to prosecutors. Williams, who was convicted of two counts of fourth-degree conspiracy, and Mullings, who was convicted of two counts of fourth-degree conspiracy and two counts of official misconduct, each face up to four years in prison, the DA’s office said.