deja vu all over again
Assemblyman William Boyland Jr. just can’t catch a break.
Mr. Boyland, who was previously charged with soliciting bribes to pay his legal bills in an unrelated corruption trial, was indicted again last March for wire fraud charges stemming from alleged abuse of per diem requests. And he was just charged yet again today.
Only a couple degrees of separation stand between Bronx Assemblyman Eric Stevenson, who was arrested and accused of corruption last week, and the infamous feud that led to the murders of hip-hop artists Tupac Shakur and Christopher “Notorious B.I.G” Wallace.
The connection begins with Khalil Abdullah, a Stevenson donor whose name and New Jersey hometown match that of a prominent cocaine trafficker who pleaded guilty in 2011. Additionally, The Smoking Gun reported that Mr. Abdullah shared an address with a celebrity hair stylist whose one-time “High Street” address is indeed the same as the contribution’s. Multiple phone calls to individuals associated with the address and Mr. Abdullah’s past reached numbers that were no longer in service.
As expected, Bronx Assemblyman Nelson Castro, who wore a wire to help indict his colleague, Eric Stevenson, announced his resignation today. Stepping down from office, in addition to cooperating with federal authorities, were steps he took in order to avoid prosecution himself.
“Today I announce that I am resigning my seat in the New York State Assembly, effective Monday, April 8, 2013,” Mr. Castro said in the statement, which can be viewed in full below. “On July 31, 2009, I was indicted by a Bronx County Grand Jury for committing perjury in a 2008 civil matter, held prior to my election to the Assembly. I appreciate the seriousness of my misconduct. Thereafter, I agreed to cooperate with …. various investigations aimed at rooting out public corruption.”
A Series of Unfortunate Events
Two days ago, when U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said New York State corruption cases were beginning to feel like the movie Groundhog Day, he was rather prescient. This afternoon, Mr. Bharara unsealed charges against Bronx Assemblyman Eric Stevenson, making him the third New York City lawmaker to be charged with corruption this week. Additionally, another Bronx Assemblyman, Nelson Castro, was the cooperating witness in the latest case and will resign today.
“So here we go again,” Mr. Bharara began. “This has become something of a habit. For the second time in three days, we unsealed criminal charges against a sitting member of the State Legislature. And based on what is alleged in this complaint, it becomes more and more difficult to avoid the sad conclusion that political corruption in New York is indeed rampant and that the ‘show me the money’ culture in Albany is alive and well.”
Another Shoe Drops
Moments ago, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s office announced yet another New York State elected official, Bronx Assemblyman Eric Stevenson, has been arrested and accused of taking bribes. Earlier this week, New York’s political world was rocked when corruption charges were leveled against State Senator Malcolm Smith and Councilman Dan Halloran. Mr. Stevenson’s charges will be formally unsealed at noon today.
“Stevenson is accused of taking bribes in exchange for official acts, which included drafting, proposing, and agreeing to enact legislation that would benefit the co-defendants’ businesses,” the release announcing the press conference declared. “Two of the other defendants are also charged in connection with their payment of a bribe to another Assemblyman, who was actually cooperating with the Government at the time. The charges include conspiracy to deprive New York State and its citizens of Eric Stevenson’s honest services, federal programs and Travel Act bribery conspiracy, federal programs bribery, and Travel Act bribery conspiracy.”
Assemblyman William Boyland, Jr. just can’t catch a break.
Days after his former chief-of-staff pleaded guilty and testified against him in his bribery trial, federal prosecutors announced new wire fraud charges against Mr. Boyland, accusing him of filing false per diem requests for Albany expenses when the assemblyman was actually meeting with undercover F.B.I. agents in one of the alleged bribery schemes.
eye in the sky
New York may join the list of states across the country that have been curtailing the use of unmanned drones. Newly-elected Bronx Assemblyman Luis Sepulveda just announced he is “preparing legislation to circumscribe the domestic usage of drones.”
“The Assemblyman believes that not enough attention is being paid to their operations in the United States, and envisions that without appropriate safeguards, they can be used for malicious and intrusive purposes,” a press release from Mr. Sepulveda’s office declared. “Mr. Sepulveda is open to coordinating with civil libertarian groups to ensure that any bill originating from his office will be adequately comprehensive to “stay ahead” of this burgeoning technology.”
Assemblyman Dov Hikind may have offered his sincere apology for dressing up as a “black basketball player” for Purim, but that doesn’t mean The Daily Show can’t have a little fun with the incident. Accordingly, that’s exactly what happened last night.
“If you live in the New York area, you may be familiar with State Assemblyman Dov Hikind,” the show’s host, Jon Stewart, began as he ticked off allegations of anti-Semitism Mr. Hikind has leveled against others. “Some of this may seem like a bit of an overreaction, but the guy is standing up for a group, whenever he feels this group has been unfairly maligned or held up for ridicule. So what’s he been up to lately?”
Assemblyman Rory Lancman, who lost a Democratic primary to Congresswoman-elect Grace Meng earlier this year and declined to run for reelection, now has his sights set on a new chamber of elected office: New York City Council.
“There’s a tremendous turnover in city government next year, including the City Council itself,” Mr. Lancman told us yesterday afternoon. “So I think there’s a real opportunity for someone with experience and energy to have a big impact in shaping the city in the next 4 to 8 years. That’s something that this time didn’t really exist for me in the State Assembly but will in the City Council. It’s exciting to be a part of it.”