The real estate developer who helped prosecutors crack a wide-ranging corruption case involving six prominent New York politicians is reportedly a key Orthodox power broker in an upstate Jewish community.
Moses Stern, a member of the Satmar Hasidic community in upstate Monsey, was the central figure in the FBI sting that led to the April 2 indictment of New York State Senator Malcolm Smith, New York City Council member Dan Halloran and other officials, according to the website DNAinfo.
The biggest headlines in the bombshell case focused on Smith, who is weighing a run for New York City mayor.
But the Orthodox Jewish community is following the involvement of the mayor of an upstate town with even more interest — and worry that the fallout for the ultra-Orthodox community in Rockland County is just beginning.
“People are so nervous because she was very close to a lot of leadership in the [Monsey Hasidic] community,” said a member of the Hasidic community familiar with the situation.
Stern was not named in the indictment. Neither a spokesman for the FBI nor a spokesman for the office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York in White Plains would comment on the identity of the witness.
Phone numbers associated with Stern, also known as Mark Stern, were disconnected or did not answer. Stern’s attorney, Stephen R. Stern, told the Forward that he did not know if Mark Stern was the cooperating witness in the Smith case. Stern and Stephen Stern are not related to each other.
The complex chain of events described in the indictment begin with an allegedly corrupt deal between Stern and Noramie Jasmin, the mayor of Spring Valley, N.Y., who was also indicted on April 2.
The upstate ultra-Orthodox population has a major presence in the village of Spring Valley. Spring Valley is near the predominantly Orthodox towns of Monsey and New Square, and it consists of part of the East Ramapo school district, which has been at the center of bitter, ongoing fights between the area’s non-Orthodox and Orthodox communities.
According to the federal indictment, Stern negotiated with Jasmin in February of 2012 to jointly develop a piece of property owned by the village of Spring Valley adjacent. The two agreed that Jasmin’s stake in the project would be hidden, and that in return Jasmin would ensure it received quick approval from the village.