Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara is investigating whether Mayor de Blasio engaged in a fund-raising pay-to-play scheme over the controversial sale of a Brooklyn hospital for redevelopment into housing.
The corruption-busting federal prosecutor recently subpoenaed the State University of New York seeking a slew of records regarding de Blasio’s ties to its sale of Long Island College Hospital in Cobble Hill, sources said.
The records date back to 2013, when de Blasio was the city’s public advocate and campaigned to keep LICH open.
He even made a show of getting arrested during a protest rally while he was running for mayor.
Then-Public Advocate de Blasio also went to court and won an order that briefly delayed the sale and greatly raised his political profile in a crowded Democratic primary field before a judge booted him from the case on grounds he didn’t have legal standing to intervene.
But after winning the 2013 election, the mayor largely abandoned his opposition to the hospital’s closure, instead backing a redevelopment plan by the Fortis Property Group for a series of apartment towers that would include 200 to 300 affordable units.
A July 15 letter written by SUNY Senior Vice Chancellor Joseph Porter and viewed that Bharara’s office, which is already investigating the mayor’s office over his fund-raising for state Senate races, has now cast a wide net for evidence of possible malfeasance in SUNY’s $240 million sale of LICH to Fortis.
According to Porter’s letter, the feds want copies of “any and all communications” between SUNY employees and de Blasio and his top aides including First Deputy Mayor Anthony Shorris, Director of Governmental Affairs Emma Wolf and special counsel Henry Berger.
The subpoenas also seek records of any related communications involving key de Blaiso fund-raiser Ross Offinger and all “personnel” and “employees or agents” of the Public Advocate’s Office, the “New Yorkers for de Blasio” campaign committee and de Blasio’s various nonprofits.
Wolfe and Offinger were both previously slapped with subpoenas tied to de Blasio’ s fund-raising operation, and Shorris has a link to the LICH deal through his former job as a senior vice president at NYU Langone Medical Center.
As part of the LICH redevelopment, NYU Langone opened a free-standing emergency room at the site in 2014, and is currently planning to replace it with a larger, $204 million facility in 2018.
The probe appears to stem from developer Don Peebles’ bombshell allegation that de Blasio personally hit him up for $20,000 to support Hizzoner’s universal pre-K program in March 2014 — while Peebles had a bid pending on the LICH site.
The nonprofit he donated to, UPKNYC, later became the now-shuttered Campaign for One New York.
Peebles told DNAInfo New York in May that he agreed to de Blasio’s request because it was hard “to tell the mayor no,” but that he later reconsidered and asked for his money back.
Peebles didn’t return a call for comment on Monday, and a SUNY spokeswoman said she was unaware of Bharara’s subpoena.
The probe marks Bharara’s latest anti-corruption blitz on City Hall, which was subpoenaed in April following a state Board of Elections report that said de Blasio engineered a scheme to evade fund-raising limits in a failed bid to help Democrats seize control of the state Senate.
The mayor is also under scrutiny over allegations that preferential treatment was given to supporters of a series of nonprofits he established, with the good-government group Common Cause labeling the donations “dark money” that was funding a “shadow government.”
In addition to eyeing the LICH site, Peebles who has said he’s considering challenging de Blasio for mayor next year was at the time renting office space to the city in a Tribeca building that the city last year approved for conversion into condos.
A spokesman for de Blasio’s 2013 campaign and the Campaign for One New York denied any wrongdoing, saying: “We are fully confident that the campaign has conducted itself legally and appropriately at all times.”
Bharara’s office and a Fortis spokeswoman both declined to comment.