Law firms fighting de Blasio probes will cost taxpayers over $10M

The two high-powered law firms tapped to represent the city in the string of federal and state investigations swirling around the de Blasio administration have quietly received no-bid contracts expected to cost taxpayers at least $10.75 million.

The city’s Law Department agreed to pay out $10 million through the end of the 2017 fiscal year to the law firm, Debevoise & Plimpton, which has representing Mayor de Blasio and his operatives for months regarding investigations into Hizzoner’s fundraising activities.

The Law Department also negotiated another contract awarded last month without competitive bidding with the law firm of Carter Ledyard & Milburn. It calls for $750,000 in payments through Fiscal 2017 for representation related to the scandalous Rivington House nursing home deal in which the city mysteriously lifted a deed restriction allowing the Lower East Side property to be sold for a $72 million profit.

Both contracts also allow additional payments by taxpayers assuming the investigations extend beyond Fiscal 2017. When asked whether the city expects to spent beyond the $10.75 million allocated, de Blasio spokesman Eric Phillips said, “We have no idea how long the outside reviews will last. We budget prudently.”

A copy of the Carter Ledyard contract, obtained Monday by The Post through a Freedom of Information Law request, refers to the legal services being provided as the “John Doe Investigation (Rivington). Although the contract was officially awarded in October, the law firm began providing its services in April and has already earned $410,000 in work.

Hourly rates include $750 for G.Michael Bellinger and $600 for the firm’s other partners.
None of the 94 pages of documents provided to The Post by the city Comptroller’s office mention de Blasio by name.

But Samuel Moriber, the Law Department’s chief contracting officer, said in an October 27 letter to Bellinger that the legal services are related “to investigations being conducted by the US Attorney’s Office… , the New York City Department of Investigation … and perhaps other entities into the lifting of deed restrictions on a property located at 45 Rivington Street.”

Moriber said the firm “may be asked to represent New York City employees who may be interviewed by any investigative body or subpoenaed to give testimony to a grand jury.”

De Blasio said Friday he has not been questioned in any of the investigations.

His aides on Friday said the city expects to spent $6.5 million in legal fees through year’s end related to the probes.

A spokesman for Comptroller Scott Stringer, whose office approves most city contracts, declined comment when asked if the spending is justified.

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