The man who helped the FBI ensnare State Senator Malcolm Smith and City Councilman Dan Halloran, as well as NYC GOP leaders, is a Rockland County resident who actually owes $126 million to Citigroup for a big failed real estate deal.
DNAinfo portrays Moses "Mark" Stern as a "bankrupt, smooth-talking real estate investor" and says, "In the spring of 2007, at the height of the real estate bubble, the Monsey, N.Y., resident got Citigroup to give his firm First Republic Group Realty $126 million in mortgage loans to buy 11 strip malls in the Southeast, despite his spotty track record on investments, according to court records. First Republic bought the properties for $128 million but went bankrupt in 2009. That same year Citigroup sued Stern, claiming he was on the hook for all the money."
According to the Post, Stern, a Hasidic Jew who lives in Monsey, and Smith are longtime friends, "Stern routinely gets close to pols to demonstrate status in the class-conscious world of New York’s Hasidic communities, sources said."
Stern, a father of nine who lives in a gaudy mansion, has a penchant for expensive liquor, cigars and fancy cars. “Maseratis and Ferraris — he likes those,” one source said. “He definitely likes his cars.”
He pays for daily visits from cleaning ladies and has stacks of cash in his home, the source said. “There are times he’ll have 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 100 grand in the house,” the associate said. Stern, who was holed up yesterday, could not be reached for comment.
He received several food deliveries and a masseuse stopped by to give his wife a rubdown.
Stern bought his mansion in 2008 and started renovations—but since he's bankrupt and there are liens against him, his home is surrounded by stalled construction: The News found "on Wednesday the front yard was littered with construction debris. A car sat among fallen tree limbs and weeds in the backyard."
The other person involved in the probe was an undercover FBI agent named "Raj", who posed as a developer willing to pay off politicians (pro-tip to politicians: NEVER ACCEPT BRIBES). At any rate, Stern's character is now being targeted by Smith's team: Defense lawyer Gerald Shargel said, "The U.S. Attorney made it seem the roof had been blown off the presumption of innocence. Now 24 hours later we're seeing the case is based on a shaky foundation."