NYC cuts funding for Wiesenthal Center over trustee’s corruption indictment

Cnaan Liphshiz

After being arrested on federal corruption charges, Murray Huberfeld, the founder of a New York-based hedge fund Platinum Partners LP, leaving United States District Court for the Southern District of New York in New York City, June 8, 2016. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

After being arrested on federal corruption charges, Murray Huberfeld, the founder of a New York-based hedge fund Platinum Partners LP, leaving United States District Court for the Southern District of New York in New York City, June 8, 2016. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

(JTA) — New York’s city council discontinued its funding for the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Museum of Tolerance over corruption allegations leveled at a museum trustee.

The center had been expecting $500,000 for law-enforcement sensitivity seminars it runs, but the $82 billion budget approved by the City Council Tuesday gave nothing to the center, which received $655,000 over the past two years from the city, according to a report by CBS2.

The discontinuation was a result of last week’s indictment of Murray Huberfeld, a hedge fund manager and a member of the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s board of trustees, according to the report. The center is also tied a real-estate investor who allegedly conspired with Huberfeld, and who had helped secure city funding for it.

Federal prosecutors claim that Norman Seabrook, the head of the union that represents New York City correctional officers, invested $20 million of the union’s pension money in Huberfeld’s hedge fund, Platinum Partners. Huberfeld allegedly agreed to pay kickbacks to Seabrook. Both men have been charged with honest services fraud, and both are denying any wrongdoing, NBC reported.

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“Given some of the investigations and some of the recent news about certain things that have been happening with regard to some of the people that have been affiliated with it, the council decided it wasn’t prudent this year to be funding something with the center,” Council Communications Director Eric Koch said following the budget vote.

A spokesman for Mayor Bill De Blasio said there will be no mayoral allocation for the center this year.

Huberfeld is acquainted through Jewish philanthropic circles with Jonah Rechnitz, a Brooklyn real-estate investor who helped arrange the union’s investment in Platinum, The Wall Street Journal reported. Rechnitz has pleaded guilty to conspiracy in the case and is cooperating with federal investigators, The Journal reported.

Rechnitz had helped secure $655,000 over two years from the council to fund law-enforcement sensitivity seminars at the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Museum of Tolerance, The New York Post reported in April. The Los Angeles-based center has a museum branch in midtown Manhattan.

Rechnitz and his wife donated $9,900 to New York Mayor Bill De Blasio’s 2013 campaign, money that the mayor said in April would be returned, the New York Daily News reported.

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