Weprin, Stringer give away campaign cash from convicted Queens trash-hauler — Queens Daily Eagle
By David Brand
Two top candidates for a citywide office announce they will be giving away campaign checks from a Queens garbage truck that was convicted of federal bribery earlier this month.
George Kalergios, owner of the Zeus Waste Management karting company, pleaded guilty February 16 giving kickbacks to a local college official in exchange for exclusive waste management contracts. Over the past decade, Kalergios has invested tens of thousands of dollars in campaigning for elected officials in the five counties, including David Weprin and Scott Stringer in that election cycle.
Kalergios and his wife each donated $ 1,000 to Weprin’s 2021 campaign for City Comptroller. Weprin’s campaign manager Zach Bernstein said Weprin would give Kalergios’ check to charity if interviewed by the eagle.
“This person’s contribution to this campaign will be donated to a local charity providing pandemic relief to needy New Yorkers,” said Bernstein.
Kalergios also contributed $ 250 to Scott Stringer’s 2021 mayor campaign, according to financial reports. A spokesman for Stringer said the campaign returned the money after learning of Kalergios’ belief.
Betsy Gotbaum, head of Citizens Union group for good governments, said the two lawmakers made the right decision.
“You should return it. No question about it, ”said Gotbaum, a former New York City attorney.
Keeping the money would “look absolutely horrible and make people feel bad about politicians,” she added.
Brooklyn prosecutors said Kalergios bribed the facility director at an undisclosed local college to land an exclusive garbage disposal contract for Whitestone-based Zeus Waste Management. Kalergios faces a prison sentence of up to 15 years and has agreed to make forfeiture payments of nearly $ 111,000.
Prior to his conviction, Kalergios had been a longtime Weprin supporter who provided the Queens Congregation member with at least $ 16,900 between 2010 and 2017. He also poured nearly $ 5,000 into Weprin’s failed 2009 City Comptroller offer, according to the city’s financial records.
Gotbaum said the “limitation period for these older posts has expired”.
“He was not convicted at the time,” she said. “But I would stay as far away from this guy as possible.
Kalergios did not respond to an email asking for comment on this story.
Weprin is not the only beneficiary of the convicted garbage truck’s high campaign contributions.
Kalergios has given nearly $ 39,225 to candidates for city office since the 2009 election cycle, including $ 9,900 to Mayor Bill de Blasio. Kalergios is also a real estate developer in Western Queens and has campaigned for de Blasio’s signature “Mandatory Inclusionary Housing Policy”.
De Blasio did not respond to requests for comment on this story.
Kalergios and his wife donated $ 11,450 to the various city campaign accounts of Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz between 2016 and 2018, as well as an additional $ 3,500 to her DA campaign.
In 2019 Katz appointed Kalergios to a seat on the Queens Community Board 1.
“I don’t see a problem with that,” said Gotbaum of the appointment of the community board after nearly $ 16,000 in campaign contributions. “You don’t have that much power and he was one of 50 members.”
State Senator Michael Gianaris received $ 10,400 from Kalergios between 2009 and 2018. Gianaris and Katz did not respond to requests for comment.
Councilor Costa Constantinides has raised $ 5,500 from Kalergios since 2015, including $ 2,000 for his 2020 offer to the district president.
Constantinides said he was surprised and saddened to learn of Kalergios’ criminal conviction.
“The George Kalergios I knew was someone who was always involved in the community, civic involved, a builder who was interested in what was happening in the neighborhood,” Constantinides said.
“You never believe that people are capable of doing things like that. It’s a shame and I pray for his family. ”