Anatomy of Federal Corruption Allegations

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The recent spate of federal prosecutions for political corruption may look racial because of the ethnicity of the defendants, but the real risk is an elected official’s circle of associates.

Last week convicted former Queens State Senator Shirley Huntley was sentenced to one year and a day for the theft of $87,000 in member item dollars meant to service poor people. In order to save herself, Huntley alleged she had knowledge of other elected officials engaging in corruption. Cooperating with federal prosecutors, Huntley allowed her home to be wired during the summer of 2012 where she invited several political associates to her home where she took their pictures and recorded them. Among those Huntley recorded for the feds were New York state senators John Sampson, Ruth Hassel-Thompson, Jose Peralta, Malcolm Smith and Velmanette Montgomery and New York City Councilman Rubin Wills, Curtis Taylor (a former press advisor for Malcolm Smith) and Melvin Lowe, a former political consultant and associate of New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman. Only Smith and Sampson have been accused of wrongdoing.

Sampson was named in Huntley federal documents because he referred to Huntley a businessman who wanted to expand his business in JFK airport because the airport was in Huntley’s district. Huntley accepted a $1,000 payment from the businessman in exchange for advocating on his behalf.

Apparently, Sampson became a federal target in 2011 when a different individual was arrested on bank and wire fraud charges as part of a scheme to defraud mortgage lenders. Federal investigation of that individual led to inquiries about Sampson’s business dealing with the individual which led to investigations of alleged wrongdoing in Sampson’s legal work as a court appointed referee in foreclosure proceedings.

In April, Assemblyman Nelson Castro abruptly resigned when feds revealed that due to a pre-election perjury charge Castro had been wearing a wire for the entirety of his two terms in elected office. Castro’s wire led to Assemblyman Eric Stevenson being recorded taking a $20,000 bribe for writing legislation that would limit competition in the Bronx adult day care industry.

And just a week before that, Senate IDC member Malcolm Smith was arrested for allegedly trying to bribe his way onto the Republican line for mayor. That twisted plot included a vice chair of the Queens County Republican Party, the chair of the Bronx Republican Party, a bankrupted upstate developer, and the mayor and deputy mayor of Spring Valley. Complicating the plot was a wiretap in which Republican NYC Councilman Daniel Halloran bragged that he could obtain tens of thousands in member item dollars for use in bribe.

In yet another set of cases, Assemblyman William Boyland was recently indicted again… this time for allegedly participating in a scheme to provide member item dollars for a non-profit that in turn used the money to pay for politically related activities and products that benefited the assemblyman, including “Team Boyland” t-shirts.

But Boyland’s ensnarement began more than a decade ago when Queens Assemblyman Anthony Seminario participated in a scheme that ultimately led to attempts to discharge $19 million in debt for the MediSys hospital management company. Seminario’s prosecution led to the conviction of former MediSys CEO David Rosen for bribery. The trail of payoffs to Seminario (who died in prison), led to Boyland, and convicted former State Senator Carl Kruger. Boyland’s first trial ended in acquittal, but less than a week later Boyland was indicted again for an alleged bribery scheme with a carnival operator to pay Boyland’s legal fees. He was then allegedly caught concocting a scheme in which an entity would purchase an empty hospital facility, renovate it, and then sell it to a Boyland controlled nonprofit. To make matter’s worse Boyland was indicted for submitting travel reimbursement documents for Albany legislative business while he was on trial in NYC.

Others who have been prosecuted include former Republican Majority Leader Joe Bruno and Assemblyman Brian McLaughlin. All told, more than 2 dozen elected officials have been subject to prosecution in recent years.
Allegations of misconduct have no color or party affiliation.