Norman Seabrook, former president of the Corrections Officers’ Benevolent Association in New York, was convicted of bribery and conspiracy by taking a payoff to invest his union members’ money — including pension money — in a hedge fund that subsequently failed.
“Norman Seabrook was once one of the most powerful union leaders in this city,” Geoffrey S. Berman, the Manhattan U.S. attorney said in a statement Wednesday after a federal court jury found Mr. Seabrook guilty. Mr. Seabrook invested $20 million in the hedge fund managed by Platinum Partners, losing $19 million, Mr. Berman said.
In his role as union president, Mr. Seabrook was in charge of the union’s finances, “including the administration of its ‘annuity fund,’ a retirement benefits program funded by the City of New York that invests … for correction officers’ retirements,” said a June 8, 2016, statement by the U.S. attorney’s office announcing the arrest of Mr. Seabrook.
He was arrested along with Murray Huberfeld, a founder of the Platinum Partners hedge fund. On May 25, 2018, Mr. Huberfeld plead guilty to one count of wire fraud conspiracy relating to the funds used to bribe Mr. Seabrook. Mr. Huberfeld is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 14.
Mr. Seabrook caused the union to invest approximately $20 million of its funds in the hedge fund, “including $15 million from a retirement benefits program funded by the City of New York,” said a May 25 statement from the U.S. attorney’s office announcing Mr. Huberfeld’s plea.
Mr. Huberfeld plead guilty “to conspiring with an intermediary, Jona Rechnitz, to cause the fund to pay $60,000 to Rechnitz’s company by falsely representing that the money was payment” for professional basketball tickets, the May 25 statement said. “Instead, as Huberfeld knew, the actual purpose of the payment was to reimburse Rechnitz for having paid Norman Seabrook” to invest the Correction Officer’s Benevolent Association’s money in the hedge fund.
The $60,000 payment in cash was stuffed into a Ferragamo bag.
Wednesday’s verdict came during the second bribery trial for Mr. Seabrook. Last year, a mistrial was declared when the jury couldn’t agree on a verdict.