A $2,500 bribe for a liquor store permit paves the way for jail time

Three desis caught bribing a NYC Councilman.

By Deepak Chitnis

WASHINGTON, DC: Three Indian Americans have been arrested for their failed attempt to bribe a New York City Councilman.

Thirty-seven year-old Davinder Singh and 26 year-old Rajinder Singh, along with a third associate named Tarsem Singh, 42 – who was arrested separately but in connection with the same crime, are charged with trying to bribe Councilman Donovan Richards into giving them a permission to open a liquor store. While liquor stores are a dime a dozen in NYC, this particular store would have been in close proximity to Springfield Gardens High School.

The three Indian-Americans reportedly met with Richards back in June, after he had already blocked their initial requests to build the store. During the meeting, Richards cited not only his own, but the Springfield Gardens community’s displeasure with having a liquor store built near a school, where underage youths would be more likely to try and buy alcohol.

It is at this meeting that the three men allegedly tried to offer Richards $2,500 in exchange for him supporting their liquor store at a hearing in front of the State Liquor Authority, which was supposed to occur shortly thereafter. Unbeknownst to the bribers, however, the entire meeting was caught on security cameras.

Shortly after the men left, Richards reported the attempted bribe to the Department of Investigation, which promptly began to look into the incident. An investigator with the DOI began to meet with the three men under the guise of being an official with Richards’ office, effectively creating an undercover sting operation to catch Davinder, Rajinder, and Tarsem.

Throughout his contact with the three Indian-Americans, the undercover DOI agent was given $1,400, and was promised a further $1,100 – basically the entire $2,500 that was initially offered to Richards – if he would secure an approval from the State Liquor Authority.

At one point, Davinder allegedly sent the undercover agent a text saying “Call the Liquor Authority. We are counting on you.”

Davinder and Rajinder were subsequently arrested on September 13, with Tarsem following shortly thereafter. The former two are charged with single counts of third-degree bribery and “giving unlawful gratuities,” while Tarsem is charged with two counts of third-degree bribery and attempted bribery. It is as yet unclear how much jail time they are facing if convicted.

To contact the author, email to deepakchitnis@americanbazaaronline.com

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