A state employee stands accused of soliciting bribes from fashion house Marc Jacobs International and other exhibitors to ensure their ability to smoothly put on fashion shows and host other events at a historic Manhattan armory that is home to the Fighting 69th Regiment, according to an indictment filed in Manhattan State Supreme Court by the New York state attorney general.
The employee, James Jackson, allegedly accepted more than $30,000 from companies, including Marc Jacobs, Ramsay Art Fairs and the International Carpet Show in exchange for allowing use of the 69th Regimental Armory for events.
Jackson surrendered on charges of extortion and bribery in connection with the alleged scheme, officials said. He pleaded not guilty to those charges. His attorney, Alan Abramson, declined to comment on the case.
The first 24 of the 31-count indictment focus on Marc Jacobs International, which investigators and lawyers involved in the investigation told ABC News is at the center of the investigation.
According to New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, the Marc Jacobs firm allegedly used an intermediary to pay bribes to Jackson, the former superintendent of the armory, over the course of several years.
Two sources involved in the investigation told ABC News that the intermediary was KCD Worldwide, the public relations firm for Marc Jacobs, and that the bribes to Jackson were largely for amounts between $1,500 and $2,000.
"KCD is cooperating with the attorney general's investigation," said attorney Ken Breen, who is representing KCD.
A 30-year New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs employee, Jackson ran the armory for about 10 years.
The armory's rental charges for a commmercial event are about $6,000 per day excluding utilities, security and insurance coverage. According to the attorney general, Jackson allegedly added to those costs by allegedly soliciting bribes in at least three ways:
- A company was allegedly told that for the payment of a fee he would assure its application to exhibit went smoothly;
- When a company needed early access to get ready for a show, he would allegedly solicit an additional fee;
- The night before a show he allegedly would notify an exhibitor of a problem with their contract, which, for a fee, could be smoothed over.
"In cases in which we find public employees abuse their positions for personal gain, it is not just a violation of law but a betrayal of public trust," said Attorney General Andrew Cuomo in a statement issued when Jackson was arrested.
The arrest came as Manhattan hosted Fall/Winter Fashion Week in nearby Bryant Park. During fashion week, the Marc Jacobs International company traditionally holds well-attended runway shows at the armory. This year one of those shows took place at the beginning of the week. Another is slated for Friday.
According to the New York attorney general, the indictment unsealed in New York Supreme Court today charges Jackson with 31 felony counts. Charges include multiple counts of grand larceny, receiving bribes, receiving reward for official misconduct and defrauding the government. Jackson pleaded not guilty before Judge Lewis B. Stone. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of more than 20 years in prison.