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Corruption Probe Expands To Westchester County Exec's Office

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara Photo Credit: United States Attorney's Office
Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino at the 2016 Republican Convention in Cleveland. Astorino and county government have received subpoenas from the U.S. Attorney's Office in a widening probe of corruption, according to multiple reports. Photo Credit: Lisa Wexler

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino's office has been subpoenaed as part of a widening probe of corruption by the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Astorino, a Republican who challenged Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo for governor in 2014, said on a public radio broadcast Monday that the county has been cooperating with U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara's requests for documents and other information.

The New York Post was first to report that Bharara’s office expanded a corruption probe into Westchester, focusing on two business men: Jona Rechnitz and Jeremy Reichberg. Bharara issued subpoenas to Astorino’s office related to campaign contributions he received from the men, according to multiple news reports.

“They wanted informational stuff,” Astorino said of the subpoenas on Public Radio’s Capitol Pressroom. “We turned that all over and they’re going to look at that. I have no concern. But we’re obviously cooperating. There’s no issue other than these two donated to my campaign. We’ve had 13,000 donors since my race in 2009 and we gave everything they asked for.”

According to the Post, Reichberg was named a volunteer county police chaplain in Westchester in June 2013, despite having no ties to the county. After the appointment, Rechnitz donated $25,000 to Astorino’s county re-election campaign.

Astorino told the Post that subpoenas were issued to the county executive’s office, Westchester County Police and county goverment.

The subpoenas reportedly sought communications between Rechnitz, Reichberg and the county.

Astorino, who is considering a second run for governor, donated the contributions from Reichberg and Rechnitz to charity, according to Bill O'Reilly, a campaign spokesman.

Meanwhile, members of the Westchester County Board of Legislators issued a press statement seeking stronger county ethics laws. During a meeting Monday of the county board's Legislation Committee, some legislators said they planned to seek more comprehensive oversight of appointments like the one by Astorino that is part of Bharara's investigation.

This is not the first question of this nature to arise during Astorino’s tenure.

"Today's news of U.S. Attorney Bharara's investigation into Rob Astorino is troubling, but not surprising," Westchester County Legislator Ken Jenkins, a Yonkers Democrat, said.

During the Legislation Committee meeting, county lawmakers said they would suggest changes to improve transparency in government contracting and budgeting as well as campaign contributions from those doing business with the county

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