Monday, September 3, 2012

It's time for City Councilwoman Diana Reyna, the former chief of staff for Vito Lopez, to speak up about the disgraced assemblyman

Reyna's friends say Lopez made her life 'a living hell.' Sources identify two women who received $103,000 secret payout in Lopez's sexual harassment scandal

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Updated: Friday, August 31, 2012, 4:00 AM

 Diana Reyna

JEANNE NOONAN for new york daily news

Friends of City Councilwoman Diana Reyna, who was Vito Lopez's chief of staff in the 1990s, say Lopez made her life a living hell.

It’s time for a well-known woman in this town to reveal what she knows about Assemblyman Vito Lopez.
City Councilwoman Diana Reyna (D-Brooklyn) was a Lopez chief of staff in the 1990s. She was a regular fixture at his side during that time. At the tender age of 27, she won a seat in City Council from Williamsburg in 2001, thanks to his backing.
But according to four of Reyna’s longtime friends, she and Lopez also had a “personal” relationship that lasted into her early years in Council and, after she sought to end it, Lopez turned increasingly abusive toward her.
“She confided to me that Vito would harass her with angry phone calls at least three times a day,” one Reyna friend said.
“He made her life a living hell,” said a second friend.
All four asked not to be identified because Reyna — now married to an NYPD sergeant — has refused for the past several years to say anything publicly about her former mentor.
Reyna herself did not respond this week to several calls and emails from the Daily News to talk about Lopez.
But no one is more qualified — or can speak with more authority — about life among Lopez’s female staffers than Reyna..

Robert Mecea for New York Daily News

Disgraced Brooklyn Assemblyman Vito Lopez kicked in $32,000 in an attempt to silence sexual harassment claims.

A product of city Catholic schools and a graduate of Pace University, she is a trailblazer among Latina women, as the first Dominican-American female elected to political office in our state.
She was young, tall, attractive, and politically ambitious when she went to work for Lopez.
She was exactly the kind of woman that Lopez likes to have on his staff — exactly like the two women at the center of the mushrooming sexual harassment scandal and coverup involving Lopez.
Rita Pasarell, 30, and Leah Hebert, 29, are both bright and ambitious do-gooders.
Both entered politics with an eye toward helping their community. And both were derailed by Lopez, the Brooklyn Democratic party boss who is accused of paying more attention to their bodies than their brains.
Hebert and Pasarell have been identified by sources as the sexual harassment victims who shared part of a secret $103,080 settlement authorized by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver to keep quiet about Lopez’s sleazy improprieties.
Lopez pitched in another $32,000 of his own money to hush up the claims against him.
Documents released Thursday by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman reveal that they originally sought $1.2 million but were negotiated down to $135,080 — with one getting $60,786 and the other $20,262 — based strictly on the salary and benefits they were owed until the end of the year. They had to agree to resign in June.

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