News Ticker

Is Jerry Kremer The Legal Mastermind Behind The Thomas Administration’s Alleged Corruption

EDITORIAL BY THE BLACK WESTCHESTER EDITORIAL DEPARTMENT FOR THE SEPTEMBER 2018 PRINT EDITION

In every case of the public sector or political corruption, there is always a group of people or person behind the scene, most never see, hear of or know exist. In the case of the alleged political corruption of the Thomas Administration is the legal mastermind Arthur ‘Jerry’ Kremer.

Mount Vernon Mayor Richard W. Thomas and his adviser and major campaign donor, Deputy Police Commissioner Joseph F. Spiezio have long been aligned and intertwined in a corruption of culture with attorney, author, political consultant and lobbyist Arthur “Jerry” Kremer. Kremer, who is the head of a company called Empire Government Strategies and a senior partner of the law firm of Ruskin Moscou Faltischek. It was also heavily reported Kremer’s company was tied to NYS  Senator Skelos’ indictment.

Dean Skelos leaving federal court in New York, Tuesday, July 18, 2018 [AP Photo/ Mary Altaffer]

According to an article in the Shelter Island Reporter titled, “Suffolk Close-up: A Long Island web of corruption: According to the federal charge, the senator began working at Ruskin Moscou Faltischek in 1994, he has been paid more than $2.6 million, despite the fact that it appears, based on evidence gathered during the investigation, that Mr. Skelos “did not perform any actual legal work” for the firm. An unusual aspect of the firm is what it calls its “government relations arm,” Empire Government Strategies. This is headed by Arthur “Jerry” Kremer of Bridgehampton.

A review by Newsday of hundreds of campaign finance, ethics and lobbying records and state contracts involving Skelos, the law firm, Ruskin Moscou Faltischek in Uniondale, and the lobbyist, Empire Government Strategies, shows the intersection of public and private transactions, which good-government watchdogs have said creates the potential for conflicts of interest and is exacerbated by New York’s porous ethics laws. Empire Government Strategies, a registered lobbyist, which the law firm describes as its “government relations arm.” Those clients include real estate, healthcare, and corporate interests.

Real estate is one area in which legal clients and state legislation can overlap or in Mayor Richard Thomas’s case city legislation and control of millions of dollars in city property. For example, former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was charged in a corruption scheme that in part involves what federal authorities said was a powerful real estate scheme.

The Ruskin Law Firm has a history representing major real estate development firms. Their website states, ‘Our nationwide clientele includes owners of shopping centers, office buildings, hotels and resorts, apartment complexes, senior citizen housing, industrial sites, vacant land, commercial and residential cooperatives.’

The website also states that they are heavily involved in the Industrial Development Agency (IDA). Is this a coincidence that the Thomas Administration has come under fire for how he has handled the finances under the IDA and for hiring Universal Engineering Services, a consultant who had an inspector in its employment who had served federal prison time for corruption?

Phillip Procaccino, the former employee with Universal Engineering Services, who was conducting inspections for the Mount Vernon building dept. [JONATHAN BANDLER/THE JOURNAL NEWS]

According to Lohud, Universal – which is paid $150 an hour for its consulting work – hired an inspector who pleaded guilty last year to criminally negligent homicide in the death of a construction worker in Manhattan. In July, the head of Universal, Michael Gianatasio said he fired Procaccino after The Journal News inquired about the inspector’s federal conviction. As a fire inspector in Jersey City, Procaccino had taken $2,500 from the owner of a massage parlor that doubled as a prostitution business to help it get a certificate of occupancy.
State ethics law prohibits public officials from engaging in any business or activity in which they have a direct or indirect financial interest that would give reasonable basis for the impression that any person can improperly influence him.

The law says officials should pursue “conduct which will not raise suspicion among the public.” The actions of Mayor Thomas has led to an all-out investigation of the New York State Attorney General’s Office.

In a section on the law firm’s website devoted to Mr. Kremer, under his photo is a quote: “Law and politics have always been closely aligned. Many of my clients turn to me for legal counsel, but also for my insights into the political arena, which is a constantly changing landscape.”

Mr. Kremer is a Democrat and for 23 years was a member of the New York State Assembly. According to the New York Times article by Frank Lynn 1988,  Mr. Kremer’s resignation had been the subject of rumors for some time, other Democrats said the unusual timing may have been motivated in part by his objections to a new state ethics law and requires fuller financial disclosure.

The article also stated that Mr. Kremer said he might be interested in running for State Comptroller in 1990. But the Comptroller, Edward V. Regan, echoing other politicians, said Mr. Kremer’s possible interest in statewide office was ‘’a subterfuge’’ that was ‘’not to be taken seriously.’’

As a lobbyist, he’s been active in Suffolk County representing, among other clients, the tobacco industry and seeking to block measures advanced by the Suffolk Legislature to restrict smoking. Although a highly active lobbyist, for 20 years he has regularly appeared as a political and government analyst on Cablevision’s News12.

Kramer connection to News 12 has many questioning the lack of news coverage Joseph Spiezio’s involvement in the Mount Vernon city government. The Kramer connection controlled the narrative until it was clear to reporters that many issues that were being reported on Thomas didn’t pass the sniff test when asked by other elected officials.

Kramer is also the founder of the 200-member energy policy group the Affordable Reliable Electricity Alliance, located at 114 West 47th Street in Manhattan. This is also the company that Mayor Thomas worked as Executive Director for New York A.R.E.A. while he was City Councilman, according to a Huffington Post article.

Thomas’ connection with Deputy Police Commissioner, “Confessed Criminal Informant” Joseph Spiezio and the law firm of Ruskin, Moscou, Faltischek under Kramer’s direction, has assisted Thomas in defying local, state and Federal laws.

Ruskin, Moscou, Faltischek, is the same law firm that Special Counsel to Mayor Thomas, Maria Donovan comes from. Donovan – a Queens, New York resident – is also a partner with Kramer with the nyconcon.com an organization that lobbied on issues with the Constitutional Convention. Donovan has also regularly passed out the false malicious information about Councilman André Wallace to various press outlets at press conferences held by Mayor Thomas.

Mount Vernon Corporation Counsel Lawrence Porcari was personally hand-picked by Spiezio – who he had ties to when Porcari served as Associate Corporation Counsel of the City of Yonkers (April 2000 – January 2016) – to obstruct any accountability through the city’s law department. Under Porcari, it has been reported by Lohud that the city has failed to be in compliance to many FOIL requests, especially any requests on employee information and has outsourced legal work to Kramer’s law firm.


In June of 2016, Mayor Thomas refused to sign payment for the city’s Con-Edison bill. Mayor Thomas publicly announced his intentions of switching contracts from Con-Edison to the New York State Power Authority. What many missed due to the very public civil war in city hall between the mayor vs the city council and comptroller, was a big red flag of conflict of interest and possible corruption. Arthur “Jerry” Kremer,  who also serves as Special Counsel to the Mayor, currently chairs the New York Affordable Reliable Electricity Alliance and has served as their government relations counsel.

Also in June of 2016, the law firm of Ruskin, Moscou, Faltischek was hired at $350 an hour as special counsel for litigation against the family of Raynette Turner, who died in Mount Vernon Police custody July 27, 2015. Turner was the sixth African-American female who died in police custody in the month of July 2015, the most notable being Sandra Bland.

According to 54-page court filing by the former Mount Vernon Public Safety Commissioner Robert Kelly, submitting a report detailing the criminal case and how he would immediately suspend and file departmental charges against the mayor’s older brother, Henry-George Thomas, a firefighter who plead guilty of federal gun trafficking,  would lead to his firing. Kelly was called to a meeting at City Hall with Thomas, Spiezio, and Kremer.  Kelly claimed he was given back the report and told the mayor “cannot see this until ‘we figure this out”.
In the recent meeting between Westchester County, Deputy County Executive, Ken Jenkins regarding the construction of Memorial Field. Mayor Richard Thomas was represented by Kremer courtesy of the Mt. Vernon taxpayers.

When Thomas thanked Spiezio publicly the night of his primary victory on News12, it sent a clear signal to state and federal authorities that Mount Vernon governance will never be the same. A simple search of “Joe Spiezio or Joseph Spiezio in Google would produce dozens of pages pertaining to the shady businessman and a trail of destruction he has left up and down the east coast.

After Thomas was arrested, arraigned and indicted by the Attorney General’s Office, Speizio and Kramer have been working hard in protecting their investment with high powered attorneys to try to keep Thomas in office to get a return on the money they invested.

The exposure of the Spiezio, Kramer, Thomas connection has forced Thomas to downplay the leadership role of his lead advisor and Deputy Police Commissioner, Joseph Spiezio. Unfortunately, its known though throughout all levels of government and political circles that Spiezio runs the city.

What we are witnessing are alleged acts of a corruption syndicate in one of the most dense democratic cities in the state of  New York, lead by some of the best political-legal minds in the state of New York. The Thomas Mayorship is something straight out of the novel The Manchurian Candidate a covert takeover of a city government.

Although The Manchurian Candidate is by no means an exact prediction of what is happening in Mount Vernon. In the course of the story, the mechanism used to control the actions of the brainwashed Sgt. Shaw was the Queen of Diamonds in an ordinary deck of playing cards. Whenever Shaw threatens to exert his own independence, a voice on the phone suggests that he pass the time with a little game of Solitaire. As soon as he turns up the Queen, he’s under the thumb of whoever issues a firm command.

For Mayor Thomas, he’s not controlled by Queen of Diamonds, but the King of Trash. Right now the King of Trash seems to be running rampant in Mount Vernon unchecked by county, state and federal authorities.

The people of  Mount Vernon’s basic democratic principles are being “TRUMPED” by a Mayor with a powerful political law firm, headed by Jerry Kremer and a Trashman that is an Unindicted Co-Conspirator in the NYS AG’s case against Mayor Thomas. We just can’t make this type of stuff up.

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Black Westchester - News With The Black Point Of View is an online news magazine for people of color for Westchester and the Tri- State area of New York at every economic level. Our mission is to promote the concept of “community” through media.
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