NEW YORK — An Indian American restaurateur, Harendra Singh, has pleaded guilty in secret court proceedings to trying to bribe New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, according to court documents unsealed Jan. 23, the media reported.
In October 2016, Singh admitted in a "sealed courtroom" before a federal judge on Long Island, to bribery and wire fraud in connection with campaign contributions made to de Blasio, the New York Times reported, citing court records.
The records were unsealed more than a year later in connection with the trial of Edward Mangano, the former head of Nassau County on Long Island, the Times said.
Singh also pleaded guilty to six other charges in unrelated bribery schemes involving officials on Long Island and businesses he owned there.
The mayor was not charged in the case and was cryptically referred to in the court documents as "Official #2," which the Times said: "clearly match de Blasio.” Prosecutors sometimes do not identify politicians by name in court documents.
Singh's trendy Water's Edge restaurant, which was at the center of the bribery scandal, closed in 2015.
The restaurant was located on the shore of the East River on city-owned property and he sought the help of the mayor's aides in renewing the lease, which ultimately fell through.
"Singh was one of the earliest large donors when de Blasio began his mayoral campaign in 2010 and he, his family members and other associates ultimately raised a total of about $33,000 for the mayor,” noted the Times, citing court records.
The records also refer to a fund-raiser that Singh hosted at his restaurant in October 2013.
In December 2014, Singh asked an aide to the mayor for help with renewing his restaurant's lease and a senior aide arranged a meeting next July with the head of the city agency involved in the restaurant lease "in an effort to pressure the agency to make its proposed settlement terms more favorable" to Singh.
While New York City and Singh were close to finalizing the renewal on terms favorable to him, Singh was arrested as part of a corruption investigation on Long Island.
It was not known if Singh received any sentence.
The case involving Singh and de Blasio was originally investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Federal prosecutor's office for the Southern District of New York. de Blasio was not charged but "harshly criticized for his fund-raising practices, according to the Times.
The case against Singh was instead filed by the office of the Federal prosecutor for the Eastern District of New York.