Mayor de Blasio gave a retired NYPD official a plum post in his administration after getting a call from a shady businessman who told Hizzoner the appointment would be a personal favor.
During a conversation with de Blasio, Jona Rechnitz noted that he hadn’t asked for much since forking over huge contributions to de Blasio’s mayoral campaign, personal charity and Democratic allies, sources said.
Rechnitz, a crooked real-estate developer who’s now a key cooperating witness in the NYPD corruption scandal, later bragged to his associates that “I’ve got the mayor on lockdown,” sources said.
Ex-Chief of Department Joseph Esposito scored the gig atop the Office of Emergency Management which pays $220,000 a year despite having testified in federal court in support of the NYPD’s “stop and frisk” policy, which de Blasio ran against and rolled back upon taking office.
Rechnitz called de Blasio directly, using his cellphone while inside the 1 Police Plaza office of then-Chief of Department Philip Banks III, sources said.
Rechnitz put the phone on speaker so Banks, then-Deputy Chief Michael Harrington and Rechnitz crony Jeremy Reichberg could listen in, sources said.
The motive for Rechnitz’s call was unclear.
Harrington and Reichberg have both since been charged with official corruption by the feds and Rechnitz is poised to testify against them.
Banks quit the NYPD in December 2014 rather than get promoted to first deputy commissioner, saying at the time that the new job would sideline him from “the police work and operations that I love so much.”
Sources later told that Banks’ resignation came after the feds began probing the “hundreds of thousands” of dollars he stashed in various bank accounts.
Esposito, who was forced to take mandatory retirement from the NYPD at age 63, replaced Joseph Bruno, a holdover from the Bloomberg administration, in June 2014.
Rechnitz donated $50,000 to the de Blasio’s since-suspended Campaign for One New York charity which is under state and federal investigation and he and his wife also gave de Blasio the maximum total of $9,900 for his 2013 mayoral campaign.
In addition, Rechnitz kicked in the maximum $102,300 toward a failed effort, spearheaded by the mayor, to help Democrats win control of the state Senate in 2014.
Reichberg donated the maximum $4,950 to de Blasio’s campaign and bundled another $41,650 in political contributions for him.
In April, de Blasio said he met the men “around the time of the general election — had not known them previously have spent very little time with them in the scheme of things and not much at all in the last year.”
“I know of no favorable municipal action they got,” he said.
De Blasio and his administration are under investigation by federal and local authorities probing a slew of pay-to-play allegations and alleged violations of election-finance law.
Nearly everyone who was in Banks’ office at the time of Rechnitz’s call has since been busted by the feds on official-corruption charges.
Harrington is accused of trading police favors in exchange for bribes including pricey restaurant meals, tickets to Nets and Rangers games, a video-game system and hotel lodging during a family trip to Chicago.
Reichberg is charged with providing some of those payoffs, and with helping arrange for a hooker to accompany him, Rechnitz, and two cops on an infamous 2013 trip to Las Vegas for Super Bowl XLVII.
Rechnitz has pleaded guilty to his role in those schemes and another involving the since-ousted head of the correction-officers union, and is cooperating with the feds in a bid for leniency.
It was unclear whether Rechnitz told authorities about his phone call to de Blasio, and a spokesman for Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara, who is spearheading the corruption probe, declined to comment.
Asked about the phone call, a de Blasio spokesman, Eric Phillips, cited Bharara’s probe and said: “Out of an interest in preserving the integrity of an ongoing review, that’s not something I can comment on.”
“Commissioner Esposito is a highly credentialed Emergency Management official that our city is lucky to have in this important post. Commissioner Esposito’s unrivaled credentials were the only reasons he got this job,” Phillips added.
Esposito refused to comment, but OEM spokeswoman Nancy Silvestri said: “Commissioner Esposito does not know Jona, he has no personal relationship with him and he has never discussed his Emergency Management position with Jona either before, during or after the appointment.”
Banks’ lawyer, Ben Brafman, said of the Rechnitz phone call: “This allegation has to my knowledge never come to my attention from any source, despite representing Mr. Banks for more than a year in this investigation.
“It should be noted that Philip Banks has never been charged with any crime whatsoever in this case,” he added.
Lawyers for Rechnitz and Reichberg both declined to comment, and Harrington’s lawyer didn’t respond to an inquiry.