Speedy Trial Woes Rankle NY Jail Union Chief

MANHATTAN (CN) — Embattled New York prison union chief Norman Seabrook’s protests did not stop a federal judge from postponing his corruption trial until Oct. 16, 2017, as more evidence against him rolls in from a related case across the river in Brooklyn.

Arrested in June, Seabrook has been out on bail awaiting trial on allegations that he steered $20 million in union funds to his friend Murray Huberfeld at the Manhattan-based hedge fund Platinum Partners in return for kickbacks.

The union boss emphatically denied the charges at his arraignment a little more than a month later.

“Absolutely not guilty, Your Honor,” Seabrook told U.S. District Judge Andrew Carter Jr. in July.
On Friday, Seabrook’s attorney Paul Shechtman said his client has been unable to work and collect a paycheck since his indictment last year, and he is now eager to take the case to trial.

“Mr. Seabrook and I are still on the side of a speedy trial in this case,” said Shechtman, from the New York-based firm Bracewell LLP.

Early in this morning’s hearing, it became clear that Shechtman’s plans for a March trial would not materialize.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Kan Min Nawaday revealed that prosecutors have been sorting through a new batch of discovery in a securities fraud case against Platinum Partners, which had been unfolding in the Eastern District of New York.

Seabrook has not been accused of any wrongdoing in that case, and the charges against him relate to corruption rather than fraud.

But, not taking any chances, federal prosecutors say they need to comb through the discovery in that case through the first half of 2017.

Forming a split at the defense table, Huberfeld’s attorney, Henry Mazurek, of the firm Clayman & Rosenberg, LLP, said his client agreed with the government’s delay to look into the new material.

Seabrook has until Jan. 13 to decide whether to file a motion to try his cases separately from Huberfeld, which could potentially speed up his trial date.

Both defense attorneys said that the government’s case hinges on one witness, whose name has been widely reported to be Jona Rechnitz. Rechnitz has already pleaded guilty to the charges.

After the hearing, Shechtman lamented that the road to trial has become longer for his client.

“We came to court today with the expectation that there would be a speedy trial, which is Mr. Seabrook’s greatest wish,” Shechtman told reporters in the courtroom lobby. “The documents in Brooklyn have nothing to do with his case.”

Playing on Frank Sinatra’s “September Song,” Shechtman quipped: “It’s a long way from March to October.”

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