Three businessmen were arrested after attempting to bribe a New York City Councilman into using his political influences to attain a liquor license for their store in Queens. City Councilman Donovan Richards denied the attempted bribe and called authorities.
Davinder Singh, 37, and Rajinder Singh, 26 were arrested on Friday and are being charged with third degree bribery and unlawful gratuities. Tarsem Singh, who actually applied for the license, was also arrested and charges are pending.
The three men allegedly attempted to bribe Richards into convincing the State Liquor Authority to approve Tarsem Singh’s application for a license. The three men were opening a liquor store across the street from a high school in Queens. Richards had publicly opposed the store.
“Clearly, the good news is that there are public officials unwilling to sell their offices," Department of Investigation (DOI) Commissioner Rose Gill Hearn said in a report from Newsday. More than 30 New York State officials have been charged with or linked to corruption cases in the last seven years.
The DOI stated that Richards can be seen denying a cash bribe on a security camera. Richards later reported the attempted bribery, which prompted an investigation.
The DOI stated that they met twice with the men in June and September, posing as Richards’ representatives. An undercover DOI officer was paid $1,400 in cash with a promise of $1,100 after a hearing with the State Liquor Authority.
“We are counting on you,” Davinder Singh allegedly said to the officer in a text message after the meeting.
Richards has been a councilman since February, and on Tuesday was elected succeed State Sen. James Sanders.
“May these arrests show those who seek to bribe public officials that our communities and children aren't for sale," Richards said on Friday.