The prosecution's star witness against state Sen. Malcolm Smith and other political figures is a deadbeat who owes Citigroup $126 million and is about to have the water in his suburban mansion shut off.
Moses (Mark) Stern, 40, secretly pleaded guilty to federal charges and cooperated for months in a sweeping FBI corruption probe, sources familiar with the matter tell the Daily News.
In a 28-page criminal complaint, he’s listed as “CW,” a cooperating witness who presented himself to Smith and other political operatives as a big-spending, politically connected developer who could deliver campaign cash in exchange for political favors.
Stern’s partner — unbeknownst to the pols — was an undercover FBI agent named “Raj.” Both Raj and Stern were secretly recording the alleged backroom deals and shady bribes.
The shocking tapes, which caught pols like Smith and Queens City Councilman Dan Halloran openly scheming to further their political ambitions and line their own pockets, led to the stunning arrests on Tuesday of Smith, Halloran, Bronx Republican Chairman Joseph (Jay) Savino, Queens Republican Vice Chairman Vincent Tabone and two upstate politicians.
When Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara announced the arrests Tuesday morning, one of the most brazen political corruption cases in recent memory, he never mentioned Stern’s name.
Also not mentioned was Stern’s tawdry background, starting with the tens of millions of dollars Citigroup says he owes for a collapsed scheme to buy up 11 shopping centers in Georgia, Alabama, North Carolina and Virginia.
In mid-2007, just before the real estate bubble burst, Stern and his associates formed a firm based in Monsey, Rockland County, called First Republic Group. The plan was to purchase shopping centers in Southern states.