Carl Kruger, By the Numbers

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State Senator Carl Kruger (D-Brooklyn) turned himself into federal authorities in Manhattan yesterday amid allegations that he was accepting money for political favors. (Louis Imbert/The Brooklyn Ink)

By Louis Imbert, Ivana Kottasová, and Evan MacDonald

When Manhattan federal investigators charged state senator Carl Kruger and seven others as part of an alleged bribery scheme yesterday, it shed light on one of the state’s least-known but most influential politicians.

The FBI had reportedly been investigating Kruger since 2007 amid allegations he accepted money in exchange for political favors. The money was not reported as part of his political contributions; it was allegedly hidden away in various bank accounts.

Among the charges against the group:

  • David Rosen, CEO of Queens-based MediSys Health Networks, and Robert Aquino, former CEO of the now-closed Parkway Hospital in Queens, were charged with offering bribes to Kruger to help facilitate a proposed merger between the facilities. Rosen was also charged with allegedly paying Assemblyman William Boyland for a no-show consultant’s job as part of the deal.
  • Kruger was also charged with accepting nearly $1 million through an alleged middleman, Dr. Michael Turano, to help real-estate consultant Aaron Malinsky, health-care consultant Solomon Kalish and clients of New York lobbyist Richard Lipsky. All four were charged in the scheme.

The charges, of course, are about alleged illegal payments made to Kruger in exchange for favors. But at the Ink, we wanted to take a look at contributions made to Kruger’s campaign over the years.

Kruger has been a senator in the state’s 27th District since 1994. He is the minority leader of the state’s finance committee, and his total of $1,329,970 raised in 2010 ranked him fifth among the state’s 62 senators.

The figures below do not suggest wrongdoing on the part of any of the following parties. It is simply a look at Kruger’s friends in the political world. All of the payments fall within the legal limits set by the state of New York, and authorities have not stated any connection between the parties listed below and the allegations in the indictment.

Among the largest contributors:

$8,000 came from Michael Levitis, a prominent Russian lawyer and restaurateur in Brighton Beach, Coney Island. Levitis was charged with lying to federal agents about his dealings with a Kruger staffer last June. In 2009, he was caught on tape advising an FBI agent on how to get Kruger to help with a liquor license. His high-end nightclub and restaurant Rasputin is a popular bar among the Russian community in Coney Island and has had numerous restaurant inspection violations in the past. It received 27 violation points in December 2010.

$30,000 came from Tatiana and Michael Varzar. Tatiana Varzar is the owner of Tatiana Restaurant in Brighton Beach. When her restaurant burned down in 2003, the city held her liable for the boardwalk repair bill, which cost more than $200,000. At that time, Kruger was publicly advocating on Varzar’s behalf, and was quoted as saying that the city was “extorting” money from her. Varzar eventually had to pay more than $68,000 for the repairs, while her insurance covered the rest.

$8,000 came from Avraam Russo in 2008. Russo is the owner of Heaven Nights, a VIP bar in Coney Island that hosted Kruger’s birthday party in 2008.

$10,000 came from Nick’s Live Lobsters during 2005 and 2006.

$107,000 came from the management and associates of M&R Management, including President Michael Kerr and Chairman of the Board Carol Harrison. Kerr contributed to 15 different candidates in 2008, including both Democrats and Republicans.

Among his expenditures:

$200,000 to Brafman & Associates, the firm of his lawyer Benjamin Brafman, in July 2009.

$14,500 to former State Senator Pedro Espada between 2008 and 2010, $14,500 to State Senator Ruben Diaz, Jr., in 2008, and$9,000 to former State Senator Hiram Montserrate between 2008 and 2010. The three, along with Kruger, were members of the so-called “four amigos” who refused to back State Senator Malcolm Smith as majority leader unless they received additional perks.

Since then, the group has faced legal troubles. Montserrate was expelled from the state senate in February 2010 after he was convicted of domestic assault the previous fall. Espada was charged in December 2010 with embezzlement and taking bribes, and his case is pending. He lost his Democratic primary last fall.

$50,000 to former Gov. David Paterson’s campaign in 2008.

$450,000 to the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee between September and October 2010.

$7,000 to the Friends of Toby Stavisky between August 2008 and August 2010. Stavisky a Democratic state senator from Queens’ 16th District.

$6,300 to the Friends of Vito Lopez between May 2008 and July 2010. Lopez is the chairman of the Democratic Party in Kings County and a member of the New York State Assembly from Brooklyn’s 53rd District.

$32,000 to the Kings County Democratic Committee between 2007 and 2010.

$9,500 to the Supporters of Antoine M. Thompson, October 2010. Thompson is a former state senator from Buffalo’s 60thDistrict.

$7,000 to Shirley Huntley for State Senate between August 2008 and August 2010. Huntley is a Democratic state senator in Queens’ 10th District and the ranking member on the mental health and developmental disabilities committee.

$50,000 to the New York State Democratic Committee, August 2008.

$25,000 to the New York State Democrats Senate Campaign Committee, January 2009.

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