NEW YORK — The most significant New York City corruption trial in half a century ended Tuesday with the conviction of a top Democratic Party boss and three associates on charges that they turned a municipal agency into "an enterprise for plunder."
After deliberating for less than four days, a federal court jury found Bronx Democratic Party leader Stanley Friedman, a former New York City deputy mayor, guilty of racketeering, conspiracy and mail fraud for turning the city's Parking Violations Bureau into a racketeering enterprise for personal profit.
Also found guilty in the scandal, which resulted in 28 indictments--including charges against six former city officials--were Lester Shafran, the bureau's former director; Michael Lazar, former city transportation administrator and taxi commissioner, and Marvin Kaplan, chairman of Citisource Inc., a company that held a municipal contract to manufacture hand-held computers to issue parking tickets.
Kaplan was also convicted of perjury for lying in testimony before the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Will Seek Jail Terms
"This is a good day for the people of New York," said U.S. Atty. Rudolph Giuliani, who personally prosecuted the case in New Haven, Conn., where it was moved because of the widespread publicity. "Some very crooked politicians will be exposed, and they will be removed."
Giuliani said he would ask for jail terms when all the defendants are sentenced in March.
Since Jan. 10, when Queens Borough President Donald Manes was found in a parked car near Shea Stadium bleeding from self-inflicted knife wounds, the scandal and its aftermath have dominated New York politics. Manes, described in court testimony as the mastermind of the scheme to subvert the Parking Violations Bureau, succeeded in committing suicide on March 13 by plunging a knife into his chest in the kitchen of his home.
The effects of the scandal on Mayor Edward I. Koch, who is expected to seek a fourth term in 1989, have been profound. Koch bitterly denounced Manes, the most powerful politician in Queens, for betraying his and the public's trust. But, as the scandal continued to unfold, the mayor found his administration under pressure, even though there was no evidence linking the mayor to any of the schemes.
Certain Campaign Issue
The issue of municipal corruption is certain to be raised by whoever is the mayor's opponent in the next election. But, with that contest three years away, Koch's strategists believe there is more than enough time for him to recover.
During the trial, the government successfully argued that the four defendants were at the center of a plot, which transformed the city agency into an enterprise used illicitly for the defendants' personal profit from 1979 to 1985. The case involved an estimated $1 million in bribes.
The most dramatic testimony came from Geoffrey G. Lindenauer, the former deputy director of the Parking Violations Bureau, who was the government's star witness after pleading guilty to racketeering.
Lindenauer, a psychologist and former sex therapist, admitted he was Manes' bagman. His voice heavy with emotion, he told the jury of one of his last anxious meetings with Manes just after they learned an investigation was under way.
'Are You Going to Run?'
"Are you going to run? Are you going to leave town?" he quoted the Queens politician as asking.
"Where would I go? I don't have any money," Lindenauer said he replied. Manes then referred to a former city marshal who had taken part in the corruption ring and who had died of cancer. Lindenauer testified Manes said that, if the marshal had been exposed, he would have committed suicide. Lindenauer told the court Manes then raised his right hand to his temple in an imitation of a gun.
The next day, according to Lindenauer's testimony, Manes gave him an envelope stuffed with $58,000 in cash to flee the country. Instead, Lindenauer turned witness for the prosecution, and it was Manes who committed suicide.