Thursday, June 23, 2016
An Israeli billionaire known as the "King of Diamonds" is the bigshot businessman who allegedly got a police escort through the Lincoln Tunnel in a lane that was closed to other drivers, The Post has learned.
Lev Leviev, who is also chairman of the international real-estate firm Africa Israel, received the extraordinary favor that's part of the feds' corruption case against two high-ranking cops, sources said Tuesday.
Gov. Cuomo ordered that the inspectors general of the state and the Port Authority launch a probe into the allegations, saying: "If this is true, it is deeply troubling."
"The NYPD has no jurisdiction within the tunnels boundaries," Cuomo said.
"If members of the Port Authority or PAPD [Port Authority Police Department] participated in any fashion – through purpose or neglect – the state will deliver immediate and severe consequences."
Details of the incident came from a cooperating witness who's been identified by sources as Jona Rechnitz, a real-estate developer who once worked for Africa Israel.
Rechnitz told the feds that the escort was arranged by his pal Jeremy Reichberg, "using his connections in local law enforcement agencies," court papers say.
The complaint doesn't say when the lane closure occurred.
Law-enforcement sources said Reichberg's request did not go through official channels and there was no documentation about the incident.
But pulling it off would be an exceedingly easy maneuver that could be accomplished by a single cop on foot working with in concert with the cops in the car or cars, a source said.
"All you'd need to do, would be to move two or three traffic plastic cones for a few minutes, let the person through and then move back the traffic cones a few minutes later after you wanted to re-open the lane," the source said.
Reichberg was arrested Monday, along with NYPD Deputy Chief Michael Harrington and Deputy Inspector James Grant.
Another cop, Sgt. David Villaneuva, was busted separately, and the feds also revealed that a fourth cop — Officer Richard Ochetal — had secretly pleaded guilty and was cooperating with authorities.
Leviev, 59, is a renowned investor in precious stones whose direct competitor is international diamond powerbroker The De Beers Group.
Born in Uzbekistan to a prominent Jewish family, Leviev moved to Israel when he was 15 and got his start as an apprentice at a diamond polishing business.
After a stint in the Israeli military, Leviev went into the diamond business and is credited with breaking the De Beers Group's stranglehold on the mining industry.
He currently owns mines in Africa and Russia and operates pricey jewelry boutiques in New York, London, Dubai and Singapore.
He's also been involved in New York City real estate, including developing a condo building across from the New York Stock Exchange that spurred a fraud investigation by state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
A lawyer for one of Leviev's daughters denied that Leviev had received the police escort.
"Lev does not know Jeremy Reichberg," lawyer Charles Michael said.
The Port Authority declined to comment.
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