This story has been updated.
Federal investigators have finalized seizure of former Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino's luxury Rolex Submariner watch. Astorino says he won't try to get it back.
The watch, worth nearly $9,000, was partially paid for by a campaign donor later prosecuted for bribing New York City police officers and other public officials.
According to court papers filed on Tuesday, June 11 in federal court, real estate developer Jona Rechnitz, who in 2013 gave $15,000 to Astorino’s re-election campaign, helped Astorino buy the watch from a store owner in Manhattan’s Diamond District.
In October 2017, Astorino released receipts showing he paid $1,968 for the watch. A witness in a federal corruption trial testified he covered the remaining balance of the watch to get special favors including a police chaplain parking placard.
A spokesman for Astorino, who was never charged with a crime as part of the scandal, said in a statement issued on Tuesday that Astorino is not admitting to any wrongdoing but that he gave up trying to get back the watch to avoid a potentially costly legal fight.
"The matter is long over. It wasn’t worth the fight and potentially large legal fees to get back a $2,000 watch," said spokesman Bill O'Reilly.
"To be clear, Mr. Astorino was never accused of or charged with any wrong doing, never interviewed or questioned, and he never testified in the case. He decided to end the issue and move on," O'Reilly told Daily Voice on Wednesday. "He agreed not to fight the forfeiture. The Justice Department has always had the watch as evidence in the Reichnitz case. The reason it came up yesterday, is that the case is being closed. It wasn't worth the expense to Rob of getting it back."
"Anything Reichnitz did was without (Astorino's) knowledge," O'Reilly added.
In October 2017, campaign aides to then-state Sen. George Latimer, who ultimately defeated Astorino in the county executive's race, said the time frames and value of Astorino's gold Rolex watch didn't add up.
At the time, O'Reilly told Daily Voice: "Furthermore, Mr. Rechnitz never spoke with Rob Astorino about a volunteer chaplaincy for himself or anyone else. Rabbi Reichberg served as an unpaid volunteer chaplain, appointed by the police department. The Westchester County Police severed his chaplaincy when the New York City scandal came to light."
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