The prominent lobbyist sentenced last week to three months in prison for bribing a state senator was involved in several Queens issues, and some in the borough’s political circles wonder what he told federal investigators, since court documents showed he cooperated to get a lesser sentence.
Richard Lipsky is a well-known lobbyist in Albany and City Hall and has often taken cases concerning development and commerce. In Queens, he was recently associated with fighting the city’s planned $3 billion redevelopment of Willets Point, the collection of junkyards and auto body shops across from Citi Field.
But Lipsky was hired by many other Queens groups over the years.
His lobbying firm, Richard Lipsky Associates Inc., was formed in 1983, according to records from the state Department of State.
Records in a city database for lobbyists do not go that far back, but recently Lipsky had a hand in lobbying against another mega-development in Flushing.
In 2010, Lipsky was hired by the Flushing Coalition for Responsible Development, a group opposed to the development of Flushing Commons, an $850 million, mixed-use complex that is set to take the place of Municipal Lot 1 between Union and 38th streets and 37th and 39th avenues. The project eventually received all of the legislative green lights needed, but has not commenced due to funding problems.
Lipsky also attempted to steer small business legislation in favor of Jetro Cash-and-Carry, a nationwide grocery store supplier based in College Point. He was hired by Jamaica Recycling in Jamaica to lobby for a permit to operate a waste transfer station.
But it was his dealings in Brooklyn that led to his arrest, guilty plea and eventual sentence, which was greatly reduced from the maximum he could have served for the crime.
Lipsky pleaded guilty to forking over $200,000 in bribes to Sen. Carl Kruger (D-Brooklyn), according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.
And while he was initially supposed to be sentenced up to six years, lawyers filed paperwork detailing his cooperation with federal authorities on a high-profile corruption investigation, which led Manhattan federal court Judge Jed Rakoff to hand down the sentence of three months behind bars.
The judge had received about 50 letters on Lipsky’s behalf, one of which came from Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara indicating that Lipsky had provided substantial help in other investigations.
As news of Lipsky’s cooperation spread to Queens, many in political circles wondered if the information Lipsky provided to investigators would have any ripple effects.
“Curious is probably the right word,” said one political insider, who indicated that many in Queens are distancing themselves from the embattled lobbyist. “I couldn’t find anybody to admit that they had even met him.”
And while no one in Queens would admit they are sweating at the thought of Lipsky’s chats with federal prosecutors, other lawmakers would not be surprised if more indictments were in the pipeline.
Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4566.
©2012 Community News Group
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