Jona Rechnitz lived like he owned New York — and arguably, he did.
Whether he was high-fiving athletes from courtside seats at the Garden, jetting to Vegas in a private plane with NYPD brass and a hooker named Candi, or getting the Port Authority to close a lane of the Lincoln Tunnel so his billionaire pal could speed through traffic, Rechnitz was a self-made, cash-powered macher.
Want VIP access to the New York City Marathon, or the Times Square New Year’s Eve ball drop? Call Jona.
Want an NYPD courtesy card that gets you out of tickets? Jona could pull one out of his wallet.
In social-media posts and gossip-page clips from the past five years, the millionaire Manhattan real-estate developer and his wife, Rachel, rubbed elbows with A-listers in every corner of Gotham — Manny Pacquiao with Jona at a Knicks game, or Rachel sitting beside Jennifer Lawrence and Anna Wintour at the hottest fashion shows.
Selfies on Rachel’s Facebook page show her grinning at fashion and charity events alongside Jessica Chastain, Martha Stewart, Rachel Zoe and Chris Rock.
Sometimes, Rechnitz would be chauffeured around town in a police vehicle by Philip Banks III, then a top chief in the NYPD.
“Jonah & Aryeh courtside with the Knicks!!!” the wife boasted in a 2011 Facebook photo of her husband and his business partner, Ari Schwebel, sitting on the floor of Madison Square Garden.
“They were even pictured in the Post!” she gushed.
The next time Rechnitz would be in The Post would be on Page 1 — as the campaign donor who ensnared the highest echelon of city government and law enforcement in a pay-for-play scandal.
“HOW I BOUGHT DE BLASIO,” Friday’s headline read.
Because while he may have had New York at his feet, he also had Mayor de Blasio on speed dial.
For two days last week, Rechnitz, a 34-year-old New York transplant from a wealthy California real-estate family, had the city transfixed.
In testimony at the federal bribery trial of former city correction union boss Norman Seabrook, Rechnitz told how he bought the key to the city for some $160,000 in donations to de Blasio and the state Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, plus tens of thousands of dollars more in gifts to NYPD brass.
Rechnitz is testifying as a government witness under a cooperation deal forged when he pleaded guilty last year to conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud.
His direct testimony is expected to conclude Monday morning, after which Seabrook’s defense gets a crack at him.
“I was the ‘yes’ man,” he told jurors Thursday of his generosity to de Blasio’s top fund-raising aide, Ross Offinger. “I always gave money, as long as I was seeing him produce results.”
Hizzoner and he were weekly phone pals, Rechnitz claimed.
“I e-mailed him on his personal e-mail. We would chat. I’d go to events of his. He invited me to events and put me in very good-seated areas,” he testified.
“He took my calls. I mean, we were friends.”
Friends with ever-growing benefits, he hoped.
“I was focused on making money, getting my name out there, becoming a big player in town,” he explained.
Rechnitz had moved to New York City as a young man to set himself apart from his Los Angeles family.
His father, Robert, is a real-estate developer and philanthropist with deep political ties in the US and Israel. The elder Rechnitz was national finance co-chair for Lindsey Graham’s 2016 presidential campaign.
He also “enjoyed close relationships with the highest echelons of the Israeli government,” he said in an article on the Web site of the Friedlander Group, a Manhattan p.r. firm that lists him as a client. He boasted he was a “personal acquaintance and supporter” of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The dad loomed large for Jona.
“People would seek his advice often. We were involved in the community. I saw my family name in a lot of places of importance,” the son recalled in court testimony last week.
Rechnitz graduated from Yeshiva University in Manhattan and began his career in the city.
On the Upper West Side, where Rechnitz lived before returning recently to California, he was known as a friendly neighbor and concerned dad.
Rechnitz married fellow Californian Rachel Kahn in 2005. The youngest of their five children was born late last year.
“He seemed to care a lot about his kids. They are a very hyperactive bunch, and he was very patient and gentle with them,” said a friend of the family’s baby sitter.
When the sitter had a fire in her apartment, he gave her $1,000, the friend said.
“He gifted it to her. It wasn’t a loan,” she said.
After working for Marcus & Millichap, a commercial real-estate brokerage, and Broad Properties, in 2006 he started as an assistant at Africa Israel, a real-estate firm owned by Israeli diamond merchant Lev Leviev. Leviev and Rechnitz’s father had done deals together on the West Coast, a source had told The Post.
The firm had bought a 50 percent stake in the Apthorp apartments on the Upper West Side, and Rechnitz got a $20 million marketing budget to lure buyers.
Sources said he wasted money by hiring a 747 jet, filling it with models and flying to Europe to shoot an ad for the Apthorp.
“You knew right away that there was something off about him,” said a person who worked with him on the project. “Everything was puffery . . . He was trying to make himself like the president.”
Rechnitz left Africa Israel in 2009 and, at age 27, started his own investment firm, JSR Capital. It was to concentrate on development and distressed real assets and be headquartered in Trump Tower.
Before The Post revealed his ties to the police corruption scandal in April 2016, Rechnitz garnered a handful of mentions in the press, mostly for real-estate deals.
But his biggest splash came in 2014, when he won $25,000 on a $500 Super Bowl bet, and TMZ pictured him holding the cash.
Rechnitz said he was giving his winnings to charity, just as he had in 2012, when he scored $50,000 on the game.
On Thursday, he testified that nearly everything he did he did for money, power and access — including his charitable works.
“Marketing,” he explained.
Rechnitz says he began plying police bigs with gifts around 2012. He allegedly teamed with Brooklyn pal Jeremy Reichberg.
The pair donned elf hats to deliver a video-game system and jewelry to the Staten Island home of James Grant, former commanding officer at the 19th Precinct on the Upper East Side, according to court papers.
Grant allegedly did favors for the men including giving them police escorts and helping them get gun permits.
Grant, with Reichberg and since-fired Detective Michael Milici, was on a 2014 private plane trip to Vegas paid for by Rechnitz. A prostitute allegedly procured for the men told The Post she performed oral sex on the cops.
Rechnitz claimed in testimony last week that he fell asleep on the flight and woke to see that the cops “not fully clothed.”
He also testified that he took two deputy chiefs and two officers on a trip to Miami in 2013 and paid for hookers.
Grant and three other officers have been charged in the scandal, along with Reichberg.
The testimony comes little more than a week before de Blasio is up for re-election.
And while de Blasio has been officially cleared in federal and state probes, Rechnitz’s accounts continue to haunt him.
“Jona Rechnitz is a liar and a felon. It’s as simple as that,” de Blasio told reporters Saturday.
“He’s a convicted criminal.”
He called Rechnitz’s testimony about weekly calls “false.”
“There was in intensive investigation, the authorities passed on taking any further actions in those investigations,” de Blasio said.
“Rehashing stories doesn’t make them true.”
Additional reporting by Kaja Whitehouse and Laura Italiano