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Major Contributor to Cuomo To Testify at a Bribery Trial

By Kirk Johnson
Published: November 25, 1987

A major contributor to Governor Cuomo’s 1982 election campaign, who is also a law client of the Governor’s son Andrew, will play a key role in a complicated conspiracy and bribery trial that began in Manhattan yesterday, a defense attorney said in his opening statement to the jury.

The attorney, James O. Druker, represents a real-estate developer in the case and he said the campaign contributor, Sheldon J. Goldstein, had been subpoenaed to testify for the defense.

Mr. Drucker said testimony would discuss the roles of Mr. Goldstein and Andrew Cuomo in the leasing of a lower Manhattan office building to the state in 1982 and the investigations that led to the criminal charges. He said Mr. Goldstein had influence with Andrew Cuomo, who instigated the inquiry.

The trial, in State Supreme Court, focuses on New York State’s effort, beginning in 1980, to move offices of state agencies from the World Trade Center to other privately owned locations in economically depressed areas of the city. Essential Agreement on Facts.

In their opening statements, the attorneys for the three defendants essentially agreed with the prosecution on the facts of the case: Harry C. Partridge 3d, a real-estate developer, bought the building at 400 Broome Street in lower Manhattan; Joseph Siggia, a former state official, wrote a report recommending it for state use, and Paul Adler, an Albany lobbyist, worked successfully – on a retainer from Mr. Partridge – to have a lease approved.

The question, the defense attorneys told the jury, is whether any of that was illegal.The state, in a 31-count indictment, charges Mr. Siggia, who supervised the search for office space for the State Office of General Services, Mr. Adler and Mr. Partridge with scheming to defraud the state of $20 million over the 10-year lease.The prosecution contends that Mr. Siggia took a bribe from Mr. Partridge, in the form of a promise of a concession stand in the building, in return for a recommendation that the state lease space in the building. The state also says Mr. Partridge and Mr, Siggia then conspired to inflate the cost of the building’s renovation, which was partly financed by the state. ‘A Case About Greed’

Mr. Adler is charged with grand larceny and conspiracy for helping negotiate the lease of the space after Mr. Siggia’s recommendation. The state contends that the combination of the renovation and the lease itself amounted to $20 million in overcharges.

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