'New York' magazine: Audio tapes reveal 'threatening' Talansky

Post receives excerpts of transcripts relating to bomb threat over real estate investment that went sour.

Talansky  media 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
Talansky media 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
Transcripts of secret audio tapes of Long Island mogul Morris Talansky, made 20 years ago and relating to a bomb threat over a real estate investment that went sour, suggest that Talansky can "be willful and determined, and even threatening," New York magazine reported in its new issue this week. The article, headlined "Secret Tapes Show That L.I. Rabbi Who May Topple Olmert Has a Threatening History," appeared shortly before Talansky comes back to court in Jerusalem on Thursday for cross examination by lawyers for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in the "cash-stuffed envelopes" affair. According to the magazine's transcripts, the tapes record Talansky acknowledging that he had threatened a bomb would be placed in the car of Richard Penzer, a member of a group who had sold him a stake in a building in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in a deal in which Talansky felt he had been fleeced. Talansky turned down a request on Wednesday to comment on the article. The Jerusalem Post received excerpts of the transcript from New York magazine's Steve Fishman, who wrote the story. Fishman said Talansky had been infuriated by the deal, and demanded his money back from the sellers, who included a number of Long Island rabbis. The tapes include a conversation between a local New York rabbi and Talansky. At first Talansky denied making a bomb threat. "There were threats made about blowing up his [Penzer's] car," the rabbi insisted, in the tape transcript. "Yeah, okay," Talansky agreed. "That was the anger when millions of dollars are at stake." Fishman wrote that Talansky raised the name "Bernie" as a reference to a potentially violent individual who could be sent in 'to deal' with problematic business partners, though no one ever encountered "Bernie" beyond Talansky's mention of him. In one audio recording, a person familiar with Talansky said, "Talansky told me this afternoon that he has been talking to Bernie. "And he doesn't know if they want to settle. He says that one of the people in the deal was so snotty that he thinks he deserves to be taught a lesson." In the report, Fishman described how the rabbis became anxious after Talansky told them "Bernie" had lost a lot of money in the building sale. "The transcripts make clear that the rabbis were afraid. For good reason: Bernie apparently wanted to kill one of the participants before Christmas," the New York report said. "The rabbis grew more frightened when, on Sunday morning, January 19, 1992, three bulky 'goons' showed up" at the New York home of Penzer, the lead seller in the deal. "One of them, Michael Sciotto, later said that he'd gone to collect a debt for Morris Talansky, according to Sciotto's affidavit," the New York report said. "Sciotto later changed his story. After viewing a photo of Talansky, he said the person who sent him to Penzer's door wasn't Talansky, but someone who said he was Morris Talansky," it added. Talansky is also being investigated for allegedly attacking his former dentist following a quarrel over a bill. He has been absent from two court hearings over the alleged assault. On Tuesday, Talansky said he was not worried ahead off his cross-examination by Olmert's lawyers that is set to take place on Thursday. "Don't expect any big drama. I'll tell the story...and everyone will pick up their papers and say 'Oy vey! Why did we waste so much time on this guy?'" he told reporters.