Jason Koppel (Source: NYPost.com)
Who knows, maybe crime does pay? After all, the chief of staff for State Senator Carl Kruger that allegedly organized bribes from Russian-American nightclubs and restaurants is pulling in the highest salary of any state legislature staffer.
WNYC’s The Empire blog got the scoop:
The state senate released its twice-a-year report on expenditures today. One of the most interesting things that popped out? Embattled Senator Carl Kruger’s chief of staff, Jason Koppel, was by far the highest-paid staffer for any individual member, raking in just over (like, literally, by one cent) $81,000 for his services.
Wowzer; $81,000 despite getting caught for setting up the alleged bribes. I wish I got paid that much for screwing up.
Of course, that’s actually a pay cut. The New York Post found in April that Koppel was pulling in $162,442 a year, after a slew of raises gave him a 40 percent salary hike in 16 months – the same 16 months as feds were stepping up their investigation into Kruger and Koppel. After the Post’s report, Kruger’s office told the paper that they’d be slashing Koppel’s salary down to size. Still, he remains the highest paid staffer in the state legislature.
Just to refresh your memory, Jason Koppel – who also serves as Kruger’s campaign treasurer – was the supposed go-to person in the first (recent) bribery case involving Kruger and Rasputin-owner Michael Levitis. That probe, dating back to 2007 but first came to light in June 2010, explored an alleged influence peddling scheme in which Levitis was recorded telling another restaurateur that the state senator would help him with state matters if he organized a fundraiser for his political campaign. The FBI set up a sting, recording Levitis requesting $3,000 from the restaurateur, saying $2,000 would go to Koppel (as Levitis’ contact for the state senator) and $1,000 to Levitis for arranging the deal.
Levitis was arrested last summer for his alleged role. He plead guilty in February and earlier this week was sentenced to three years probation and a $15,000 fine. (Money he’ll likely be able to pay off with proceeds from his role in Russian Dolls, the Brighton Beach reality show.)
Kruger, meanwhile, appears to have escaped unscathed. Until, that is, another FBI probe alleged an even broader bribery-racket involving millions of dollars, gay lovers, profiting off of death (okay, only kinda-sorta), and all that jazz.
But, hey, Koppel is making some nice coin for his public service…