Bronx Councilman Larry Seabrook is breathing a bit easier after the government’s first attempt to prosecute him in corruption charges resulted in a mistrial. “There’s a tremendous amount of relief, but the most important thing is being able to go back to the district and do the work that I’ve been doing for 30 years in terms of serving the constituents,” Councilman Seabrook said in an interview on NY1′s “Inside City Hall” last night.
Councilman Seabrook, who’s accused of taking $40,000 in donations in exchange for favors, forging expense receipts and funneling more than $1 million to a network of non-profit companies he controlled that employed his family members and associates, defended his work by comparing himself to Governor Andrew Cuomo and JFK. “I think it was a president named John Kennedy and he hired his brother named Robert Kennedy. I think there was a governor named Mario Cuomo and there was a son that ran his campaign and also ran the non-profit. I think he’s the governor now,” Councilman Seabrook said.
Councilman Seabrook defended the non-profits as legitimate organizations. He said that rules didn’t prohibit council members from directing money to non-profits staffed by family members during the period covered by the case–2002 to 2009.
“There is no ruling that says that family members cannnot work or participate in any other non-profits,” Councilman Seabrook said. “The rules have changed, but therefore during the particular period that we;re talking about, that was certainly not prohibited.”
According to the government’s indictment, Councilman Seabrook’s relatives and girlfriend worked at the non-profits. One of the employees was Councilman Seabrook’s sister, Priscilla Jenkins, who lived in Georgia while she had the job.
“Priscilla Jenkins was not doing work in Georgia, she was doing work in New York City, and people do have means of travel, and it’s all documented and no one has made accusations that it was a no show,” Councilman Seabrook said. “You all act as if these were the only people that were employed in these programs, there were a number of other people that was employed within these programs.”
Councilman Seabrook also disputed the idea that his family members and girlfriend were not qualified to work at the non-profits. He pointed out that salaries for the jobs in question clocked in at under $40,000.
“Don’t talk about qualifications, how much qualified would you want someone to be for the small amount of money that they’re paid?” the councilman asked.
Councilman Seabrook’s legal troubles aren’t over yet. He will have to face the charges again at a new trial. Edward Wilford, Councilman Seabrook’s attorney, joined him on the NY1 broadcast. After the mistrial, Mr. Wilford is optimistic about round two.
“When you look at the so-called mountain of evidence, the salacious headlines that were attributed to this case and the dedicated effort of the federal government to garner a conviction, in a district where they have a 95% conviction rate,” Mr. Wilford said. “The fact that they weren’t able to convince jurors that their positions were provable beyond reasonable doubt does make us feel good.”