Bharara on the lookout for
By Tina Moore and Bruce Golding
June 26, 2016 | 3:18pm
Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara used the bright spotlight of national TV to put Mayor de Blasio and Gov. Cuomo on notice Sunday that he expects to uncover proof of official wrongdoing in both of their administrations.
"We have found that corruption is rife in a lot of institutions in New York and throughout New York," Bharara said on ABC's "This Week."
"That's true in the Legislature," he said. "It's also the case that there's corruption, we believe, in the executive branches as well. And we'll ferret it out wherever we find it."
It was Bharara's strongest warning yet to the leaders of the city and state and came amid his probes into fund-raising efforts by de Blasio and suspected bid-rigging in a slew of state-funded development projects, including Cuomo's Buffalo Billion initiative.
And it followed an interview in which Bharara bristled at the idea that Cuomo had been cleared of wrongdoing when Bharara declined to charge him for shutting down the anti-corruption Moreland Commission panel in 2014.
"Nobody gave a clean bill of health to anybody. A non-indictment is not an endorsement of anyone's conduct," Bharara told the New Yorker last month in what the magazine described as "an uncharacteristically icy tone."
After subpoenaing records of the Moreland probe, Bharara used the information to help build cases against corrupt state pols, most notably ex-Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and ex-Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos.
Silver reports to prison on Aug. 31 to serve a 12-year sentence. Skelos, who got five years behind bars, is seeking bail pending appeal.
History has shown that Bharara makes good on his predictions, with the charges against Skelos coming after he famously told New Yorkers to "stay tuned" following Silver's arrest in January 2015.
And in April, Bharara told the good-government group Common Cause that his crusade to clean up New York wasn't limited to just jailing crooked legislators.
In addition to targeting political corruption, Bharara has been investigating an alleged gifts-for-favors scheme involving top NYPD brass.
Last week, the feds busted three cops, including Deputy Inspector James Grant, who is accused of shacking up with a hooker during an all-expenses-paid trip to Las Vegas in 2013.
During his Sunday TV appearance, Bharara - who was once dubbed the "Sheriff of Wall Street" - deflected criticism that he had failed "to prosecute anyone for big financial fraud."
But he said, "To an extent, people are right about the system being rigged," citing "the track record of this office and other offices of exposing fraud."
Asked if he expected to "go back to Washington someday," Bharara - former chief counsel to Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) - said: "No, I love New York . . . This is my home."
He also said it was "doubtful" he would wind up in Albany, noting: "I'm not sure I could get out of there alive."
A de Blasio spokesman said: "The US attorney is an aggressive prosecutor who's smartly looking into all aspects of government. The Mayor's Office supports that mission."
Cuomo spokesman Frank Sobrino defended his boss.
"As the governor previously said: We have zero tolerance for any violation of the public's trust, and if there is any wrongdoing it needs to be identified and prosecuted to the full extent of the law," he said.
Additional reporting by Michael Gartland
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