News of the long slow lingering death of NYC's Democratic machine

    Just a news compilation thread for my own reference, perhaps to update from time to time

    First news item:

    Councilman, Convicted of Fraud, Vacates Seat
    By Benjamin Weiser, New York Times, July 26/27, 2012

    City Councilman Larry B. Seabrook, a mainstay of Bronx politics for nearly three decades, was convicted on Thursday of orchestrating a broad corruption scheme to funnel hundreds of thousands of dollars in city money to his relatives, friends and a girlfriend through a network of nonprofit organizations that he controlled.

    A federal jury in Manhattan, which deliberated over the course of three days, convicted Mr. Seabrook on 9 of the 12 counts he faced, including wire and mail fraud. He faces maximum sentences of 20 years on each of the nine felony counts.

    The conviction of Mr. Seabrook, 61, a Democrat, automatically vacates his Council seat; a special election to fill the remainder of his term will be held on Nov. 6, a city official said [....]

    Mr. Seabrook, who served in both houses of the State Legislature, had been on the City Council since 2002, representing communities including Baychester, Co-op City and Williamsbridge [....]


    Denouement, Pedro Espada story:

    Ex-State Senator Guilty of Theft From Nonprofit

    By Mosi Secret, New York Times, May 14/15, 2012

    Pedro Espada Jr., the pugnacious former Democratic state senator who fought his way through a perennial cloud of suspicion to the top ranks of state government only to later become one of the most glaring examples of endemic corruption in Albany, was convicted on Monday of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from the nonprofit health care network he founded.

    A federal jury announced the guilty verdict on four counts of theft but could not reach a unanimous agreement on four additional counts of theft, fraud and conspiracy, leading Judge Frederic Bloc to declare a mistrial on those counts.

    Mr. Espada sat expressionless, hands resting on the table in front of him, as the jury forewoman read the verdict in United States District Court in Brooklyn. Each count carries a maximum sentence of 10 years.

    The jury, which had been locked in sometimes contentious deliberations for two weeks, was also unable to reach a verdict on any of the counts against Pedro G. Espada, Mr. Espada’s son, who also worked at the network, Soundview Health Center in the Bronx. Prosecutors said after the verdict that they were unsure if they would seek a retrial for the two men on the unresolved charges.

    A relentless political survivor and professed man of the people who represented a hard-luck section of the Bronx through years of investigations and accusations of wrongdoing, Mr. Espada joins a long list of state lawmakers convicted of corruption-related charges in recent years. That list now includes three of the Four Amigos, as they called themselves, who staged an audacious power grab that briefly paralyzed state government and, as his price for ending the standoff, made Mr. Espada the majority leader of the Senate.

    During the trial, witness after witness testified about purchases large and small that Mr. Espada made with money from the nonprofit agency that was supposed to be used for the health needs of one of the poorest parts of the city. Instead, $100,000 in lobster, sushi and other meals was charged to a corporate credit card. Soundview money also went to private family parties, school tuition and luxury car payments. Prosecutors estimated that the four counts of theft of which he had been found guilty netted him $448,000.

    Mr. Espada, a native of Puerto Rico who was once the highest ranking Hispanic lawmaker in New York, relied on the same defense in his trial that he so often turned to during his three decades in public life — maintaining that the allegations were the work of political enemies. Toward the end of the trial, he stopped paying attention to proceedings, instead paging through a book that argues that black people cannot find justice in the American legal system [....]

    U.S. Expected to Retry Ex-Senator on 4 Unresolved Charges
    By WINNIE HU, New York Times, May 16/17, 2012

    Federal prosecutors will try to recover nearly $500,000 that Pedro Espada Jr., a former Democratic state senator from the Bronx, was convicted this week of stealing from a nonprofit health care network, as they seek a retrial for Mr. Espada and his son, according to a person familiar with the case.

     Mr. Espada, whom a federal jury found guilty on four counts of theft, will face a retrial on four other counts of theft, fraud and conspiracy on which the jury failed to agree after his six-week trial in United States District Court in Brooklyn.

    His son, Pedro G. Espada, will be retried on all eight counts, the person said; the jury was unable to reach a verdict on any of the charges against him. [....]

    Mr. Espada and his son were also indicted in March on charges of tax fraud in United States District Court in Manhattan. Those charges were earlier dismissed from the trial in Brooklyn after the judge determined that they should have been filed with the Manhattan court [....]

    Carl Kruger, from New York Times' summary:

    Updated: April 26, 2012

    Carl Kruger is a former state senator from Brooklyn. Mr. Kruger was a canny and influential lawmaker for 16 years, respected for his command of the political currency that matters most: raising and spreading around campaign contributions.

    In March 2011, federal prosecutors charged Mr. Kruger, a Democrat, and seven others with participating in a scheme in which Mr. Kruger accepted bribes in return for favors. Mr. Kruger and the other defendants pleaded not guilty.

    But in late December 2011, Mr. Kruger pleaded guilty to the corruption charges, admitting that he conspired to accept at least $1 million in bribes, which prosecutors said supported a lavish lifestyle.

    Mr. Kruger stood before Judge Jed S. Rakoff in United States District Court in Manhattan and pleaded guilty to four of the five counts in the indictment against him. The charges included two counts of fraud conspiracy and two counts of bribery conspiracy.

    In April 2012, Mr. Kruger was sentenced to seven years in prison. Prosecutors had asked the judge to impose 9 to 12 years, as recommended under the advisory federal sentencing guidelines. But the judge chose to issue a lesser sentence to Mr. Kruger, citing his “many good deeds,” which he weighed against “extensive, long-lasting, substantial bribery schemes that frankly were like daggers at the heart of honest government.”

    Mr. Kruger, who was elected to the State Senate in 1994 and rose to become the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, was accused by the authorities of accepting bribes from two hospital executives, a prominent lobbyist and a health care consultant. In return, he agreed to take official action to benefit them or their clients, prosecutors said. As part of his plea deal, Mr. Kruger agreed to forfeit $450,000.

    Prosecutors charged that the bribes had been paid to two consulting companies controlled by one of Mr. Kruger’s co-defendants, Michael S. Turano, a gynecologist who government court papers suggest was an intimate companion of Mr. Kruger’s.

    Dr. Turano, who also pleaded guilty, to one count of conspiracy to commit bribery, was sentenced to two years in prison by Judge Rakoff, who again chose a more lenient sentence than the federal guidelines had called for.


    During the investigation, the F.B.I. used a bug and taps on the cellphones of Mr. Kruger, Richard J. Lipsky, a well-known lobbyist, and Assemblyman Anthony S. Seminerio


    Hiram Monserrate, from New York Times' news summary

    Updated: Oct. 19, 2010

    Hiram Monserrate became the first New York State legislator to be forced from office in nearly a century when the State Senate expelled him on Feb. 9, 2010, following a conviction of domestic assault. In October, he was indicted on federal charges that accuse him of using workers at a Queens nonprofit group he financed to aid in his Senate campaign.

    The charges, detailed in a two-count indictment unsealed in federal court in Manhattan, stem from what prosecutors contend was Mr. Monserrate’s use of workers at the group to register voters and collect signatures to help him get on the ballot in 2006 for his unsuccessful primary campaign for the 13th Senate District in Queens.

    In 2006 and 2007 when he was a city councilman, Mr. Monserrate, a Democrat, allocated approximately $300,000 in discretionary city funds to the group, the Latino Initiative for Better Resources and Empowerment Inc., or Libre, according to the indictment. Roughly a third of that money was used to pay employees of Libre, a tax-exempt social service agency, for time they spent on voter registration, petitioning and other campaign work.

    In the summer of 2008, Mr. Monserrate, a Democrat from northwestern Queens, had spent months as the focus of political drama in Albany after he temporarily defected from the Democratic party, setting off a period of political deadlock before agreeing to return.

    Just as his role in that episode was fading from the headlines, Mr. Monserrate's domestic abuse trial picked up, stemming from a 2008 incident in which he dragged his companion through the hallway of his apartment building after cutting her face with glass. He was convicted of misdemeanor assault on Oct. 15, 2009 and expelled from the Senate four months later. The expulsion left the fragile balance of power in the Senate divided between 31 Democrats and 30 Republicans.

    In 2010, he ran for his former seat in a special election on March and was defeated by Democrat José R. Peralta. In September, he failed in his second effort to return to Albany when he ran for the Assembly post Mr. Peralta had held. His opponent, Francisco Moya, enjoyed strong support from party leaders, unions and elected officials.


    Other blasts from the recent past, from the New York Times, October 27, 2009:

    MugDemocrat Efraín González Jr.

    Former State Senator, Bronx

    Pleaded Guilty to Charges of Mail Fraud (May 8, 2009)

    Once one of the longest-serving Democrats in the State Senate, Mr. González was charged with using hundreds of thousands of dollars from nonprofit groups to pay for personal expenses, including credit card bills, rent and Yankees tickets. He was defeated in the Democratic primaries last fall by Senator Espada.

    MugDemocrat Diane M. Gordon

    Former Assemblywoman, Brooklyn

    Convicted of Receiving a Bribe (April 8, 2008)

    Ms. Gordon, a four-term Democrat, was sentenced in June 2008 to two to six years in prison for offering to help a developer acquire city land if he would build her a house for free.

    MugDemocrat Roger L. Green

    Former Assemblyman, Brooklyn

    Pleaded Guilty to Petty Larceny (Feb. 5, 2004)

    Mr. Green pleaded guilty for falsely billing the state for travel expenses and resigned in June of that year, making it clear that he was doing so only for the remainder of his term. He was fined $2,000 and sentenced to three years probation. Mr. Green ran for his seat again and won, and made an unsuccessful bid for Congress in 2006.

    MugDemocrat Brian M. McLaughlin

    Former Assemblyman, Queens

    Sentenced to 10 Years for Racketeering (May 20, 2009)

    Mr. McLaughlin pleaded guilty to charges, including using embezzlement, fraud and bribes to take money from taxpayers, labor unions and contractors, and from a Little League team in Queens. He did not seek re-election and left office at the end of 2006.

    MugDemocrat Clarence Norman Jr. Former Assemblyman, Brooklyn

    Convicted of Extortion (Feb. 23, 2007)

    Mr. Norman was convicted of extortion, soliciting illegal contributions and stealing from his re-election committee. It was the last of his four trials on four different political corruption indictments since 2003. He was sentenced to serve three to nine years in prison.

    MugDemocrat Anthony S. Seminerio

    Former Assemblyman, Queens

    Pleaded Guilty to Influence-Peddling Charges (June 24, 2009)

    Mr. Seminerio resigned from office after his guilty plea. Prosecutors claim that Mr. Seminerio charged for his services as a legislator, pocketing about $1million and arranging "favorable treatment" for the businesses that paid him. The money was channeled through a consulting company that Mr. Seminerio set up. If found guilty, Mr. Seminerio could face up to 20 years in prison. (Update: Feb 4, 2010: Sentenced to six years in prison.)



    Adding to Albany’s Sense of Scandal, a Senator Says She Will Be Arrested
    By Thomas Kaplan, New York Times, August 25/26, 2012

    A day after a powerful assemblyman from Brooklyn was censured over accusations of sexual harassment, a state senator from Queens said on Saturday that she expects to be arrested in an unrelated corruption investigation.

    The senator, Shirley L. Huntley, said she would surrender to the authorities on Monday. She said she did not know the charges, but her announcement came months after one of her aides and three others were charged with stealing taxpayer money from a nonprofit group that Ms. Huntley founded.

    Ms. Huntley, a Democrat, spoke to reporters on the street in front of her home in Jamaica, Queens, surrounded by several dozen supporters, some of them holding campaign signs. The senator’s spokeswoman had e-mailed reporters late Friday, urging them to attend “an emergency news conference.”

    “I want my day in court,” Ms. Huntley said. “I don’t know the charges. I have no idea what this is about.”

    Ms. Huntley’s announcement, following so soon after the censure of Assemblyman Vito J. Lopez, suggests that Albany’s long string of corruption and ethics scandals has not ended. Already this year [.....]

    Continued from the above:

    [....] across the city, in Brooklyn, constituents of Mr. Lopez were assessing the news that he had been censured by his Assembly colleagues.

    Mr. Lopez is one of the most powerful politicians in Brooklyn, a veteran lawmaker who also heads the Brooklyn Democratic Party. To many in the political world, it was not a surprise that Mr. Lopez was in trouble — his ties to nonprofit groups, in particular the Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council, have for years been scrutinized by city and federal authorities. But the allegations of sexual harassment, which Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver described in explicit detail in a letter Friday, amounted to allegations of wrongdoing of a very different sort [....]

    From "Vito Lopez" topic summary @

    Updated: Aug. 24, 2012

    Vito J. Lopez is a New York assemblyman and a long-serving Brooklyn Democratic leader who has been widely viewed as the borough’s patronage king.

    In August 2012, Mr. Lopez was stripped of his committee chairmanship, barred from employing young people and censured after an Assembly committee determined that he had sexually harassed two female employees earlier in the summer.

    Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a Manhattan Democrat, said that the Assembly’s ethics committee had unanimously found allegations of both verbal and physical harassment to be credible.

    “There were multiple incidents of unwelcome physical conduct toward one complainant, wherein you put your hand on her leg, she removed your hand, and you then put your hand between her upper thighs, putting your hand as far up between her legs as you could go,” Mr. Silver wrote, describing the committee’s findings.

    He also said, “There was pervasive unwelcome verbal conduct by you toward both complainants from early June 2012 until the time they made complaints of sexual harassment in mid-July 2012, including repeated comments about their physical appearance, their bodies, their attire, and their private relationships.”

    Mr. Lopez was first elected in 1984 and represents parts of East Williamsburg and Bushwick. His chairmanship of the housing committee in the Assembly gave him significant sway over matters of real estate and housing policy in New York City. He won his last race, in 2010, by a nine-to-one margin.

    Mr. Lopez has been the head of the Brooklyn Democratic Party since 2005 and has been known as one of the more irascible players in city politics. Earlier this year, his political machine took part in an unsuccessful effort to oust Nydia Velazquez, a fellow Democrat and a 10-term congresswoman, in a primary, and Mr. Lopez was openly hostile to her in his public comments.

    Long considered Brooklyn’s patronage king, he is the founder of the Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council, a nonprofit organization that has fueled his political machine for decades. City and federal authorities have in the past scrutinized his relationship to nonprofit groups, in particular the Ridgewood Bushwick organization, but he has not been charged in connection with the inquiries.

    New York Paid to Settle Complaint Against Lopez

    Sheldon Silver, the State Assembly speaker, authorized the secret payment of $103,000 to settle sexual harassment claims against Assemblyman Vito J. Lopez.

    ALBANY — Sheldon Silver, the New York State Assembly speaker, authorized a secret payment of $103,080 to settle sexual harassment claims against Assemblyman Vito J. Lopez this year, according to records released by the Assembly on Monday night.

    Mr. Lopez, 71, was censured by the Assembly on Friday after an internal investigation substantiated sexual harassment allegations brought by two female employees in his office. But The New York Times reported over the weekend that a previous sexual harassment claim was quietly settled by the Assembly earlier this year, in an arrangement that included public money, a confidentiality agreement and mandatory attendance by Mr. Lopez at a sexual harassment workshop.

    The revelation about the amount of money that the Assembly paid to quietly settle a harassment case is sure to further stoke debate about the handling of harassment cases by Mr. Silver, the Legislature’s most powerful Democrat for the last 15 years. Officials familiar with the Assembly said they knew of no precedent for such a secret payment, and government watchdog groups called for an investigation.

    The previous claim was brought by at least one other woman who worked for Mr. Lopez [....]


    A Perp Walk of Outstanding New York Politicians
    By Clyde Haberman, New York Times/City Room, Dec 27, 2012

    With 2012 just about over, we in New York have reason to hold heads high. We showed over the past year that we remain a leader when it comes to political corruption. It’s not easy staying at the top of your game. But we New Yorkers proved, once again, that we have what it takes. [....]

    First, let’s raise a cup to those this year who met the lofty standards of George Washington Plunkitt, the turn-of-the-last-century Tammany leader with a worldview that he neatly summed up this way: “I seen my opportunities and I took ’em.”

    Here’s to Pedro Espada Jr. of the Bronx (or maybe Westchester), who used to insist that corruption charges against him amounted to a satanic plot [....]

    . [....] another state senator, Carl Kruger of Brooklyn [....].

    Let’s give a cheer to Hiram Monserrate of Queens, another state senator [....].

    A toast should go to Richard J. Lipsky, a well-connected New York lobbyist whose reach included the likes of Mr. Kruger [....]

    Yet another state senator, Shirley L. Huntley of Queens [....]

    Assemblywoman Naomi Rivera, the subject of investigations into whether she was a little too nice to her boyfriends [....]

    Joseph L. Bruno, the former State Senate majority leader, was under indictment once more, charged in May with taking bribes and kickbacks.  Another Albany fixture, Assemblyman William F. Boyland Jr. of Brooklyn, was also indicted yet again on bribery charges [....]

    Jimmy K. Meng, once a Queens assemblyman, admitted in court last month that he’d solicited $80,000 to help a friend get off lightly in a criminal case. . [....]

    Let’s hear it for Larry B. Seabrook, a Bronx city councilman convicted in July of orchestrating a corruption scheme. And for Assemblyman Vito J. Lopez of Brooklyn — Gropez in New York Post headlines — who is under criminal investigation for alleged sexual harassment. And for Representative Michael G. Grimm of Staten Island, also being investigated, in his case for possible campaign illegalities. Comparable allegations swirl around the city comptroller, John C. Liu. Two of his associates, Xing Wu Pan and Jia Hou, are already under indictment. [....]

    New Charge for Brooklyn Legislator Is a State Favorite: Pilfering From a Nonprofit Agency
    By Mosi Secret, New York Times, May 13/14, 2013

    William F. Boyland Jr., the Brooklyn legislator who had already been charged with soliciting more than $250,000 in bribes and filing false travel vouchers to the State Assembly worth tens of thousands of dollars, is now facing a new charge.

    The latest charge — that Mr. Boyland steered taxpayer money to a nonprofit agency and misused it to pay for self-promotional swag — merits special consideration, not only because it further indicts him, but also because it provides additional evidence that pilfering from nonprofit agencies is the crime of choice for corrupt New York lawmakers.

    Mr. Boyland, 42, who pleaded not guilty on Monday to one count of mail fraud conspiracy in Federal District Court in Brooklyn, joins a growing list of elected officials with legal troubles connected to nonprofit groups.

    Last week, Shirley L. Huntley, a former state senator from Queens, was sentenced to a year in prison for funneling taxpayer money through a nonprofit agency that she ran. Larry B. Seabrook, a former Democratic state lawmaker and city councilman, was convicted and sentenced to five years for funneling hundreds of thousands of dollars through nonprofit groups. Pedro Espada Jr., the former state senator, and his son, Pedro Gautier Espada, a former city councilman, are scheduled to be sentenced next month for similar crimes.

    Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn said Mr. Boyland directed a nonprofit agency, which was not named, to spend a portion of the financing it received from the New York State Office for the Aging on political events promoting Mr. Boyland. Among the items the nonprofit bought on behalf of Mr. Boyland were T-shirts imprinted with the words “Team Boyland,” prosecutors said in court papers.

    Mr. Boyland declined to comment on the new charge, as did a spokesman for the United States attorney for the Eastern District, Loretta E. Lynch.

    The new charges in the case came two months after a former aide to Mr. Boyland, Ry-Ann Hermon, pleaded guilty to playing a role in a bribery scheme involving Mr. Boyland, as part of a cooperation agreement with the government, according to a law enforcement official close to the investigation.

    Mr. Boyland, who represents the Brownsville area, faces 20 other charges on the indictment, including extortion conspiracy, bribery and mail fraud, backed by evidence that includes audio recordings of Mr. Boyland discussing illicit deals with undercover federal agents, according to a complaint against him.

    He faces a maximum of 20 years in prison on the charges.

    His Wikipedia entry makes it clear the machine runs deep in his family.

    Pol’s aide: Bribe got me ‘hot’  

    Ry-Ann Hermon, the ex-chief of staff to Assemblyman William Boyland, Jr., clarified her money quote during her day on the witness stand in Brooklyn Federal Court. Hermon pleaded guilty to soliciting bribes and is testifying against her ex-boss.


    BOYLAND: Ry-Ann Hermon, former Chief of Staff and former girlfriend, now witness, in corruption and bribery trial of New York State Assemblyman William Boyland jr., leaves Brooklyn Federal Court after testifying for fed prosecutors. (Joe Marino/New York Daily News)

    we find that Mr. Boyland went into the family business (the Democratic machine):
    Boyland Jr. comes from a long line of Brooklyn politicians. His father, William Boyland Sr., occupied a seat in the New York State Assembly for two decades, while his uncle, Thomas S. Boyland, was a member of the Assembly from 1977 to 1982. His sister, Tracy L. Boyland, is formerly the Chairwoman of the Women's Issues Committee on the New York City Council.

    Prior to his election to the Assembly Boyland Jr. served as an intern in the offices of several United States Congressman, including those of fellow Brooklynites Edolphus Towns and retiring Congressman Major Owens.

    On March 10, 2011, Boyland was among eight individuals (including another State legislator) who surrendered to face charges in a federal corruption case accusing the lawmakers of taking bribes over the course of a decade in schemes large and small.[1] On November 10, 2011, Boyland was acquitted of federal corruption charges.[2] On November 27 he was arrested on separate federal bribery charges, with prosecutors claiming to have secretly recorded the assemblyman soliciting $250,000 in bribes even while the previous charges were pending trial.[3] The assemblyman's chief of staff, Ry-Ann Hermon, was also arrested on related charges.[4]

    On March 18, 2013, Boyland was charged additionally with three counts of mail fraud regarding falsely securing tens of thousands of dollars in travel reimbursements.[5] On May 14, 2013, Boyland pled not guilty to federal mail fraud charges.[6]

    and note that he "serves," if you can call it that, the poorest and blackest sections of Brooklyn:
    represents District 55 in the New York State Assembly, which comprises Ocean Hill, Brownsville, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Crown Heights and Bushwick.

    In Albany, the same old, same old:

    After Ethics Panel’s Shutdown, Loopholes Live On in Albany


    New York Times, Dec. 7/8, 2014

    The Moreland Commission had urged officials to increase disclosure requirements and restrict how campaign funds could be spent. Now, eight months after its work was cut short, little in Albany has changed.

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