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.”
Malcolm in the Middle
“Today is another sad and disappointing day for every New Yorker,” U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara announced at his press conference this morning where he unsealed corruption charges against six officials–including State Senator Malcolm Smith and Councilman Dan Halloran–accusing them of accepting bribes to boost Mr. Smith’s mayoral campaign.
“The charges we unsealed today demonstrate once again the ‘show me the money culture’ seems to pervade every level of New York government,” he continued. “The criminal complaint describes an unappetizing smorgasbord of graft and greed involving six officials who together built a corridor of corruption stretching from Queens and the Bronx to Rockland County and all the way up to Albany.”
Law & Order
Councilman Larry Seabrook, who was convicted last July on 9 counts of wire and fraud charges, was sentenced in federal court today to 5 years in prison. Upon his conviction, Mr. Seabrook was immediately expelled from the legislative chamber.
“Councilman Larry Seabrook sacrificed the public trust on the altar of greed,” U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement.
Law & Order
This morning, Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District, announced multiple charges relating to an alleged campaign finance scheme against Albert Baldeo, a Democratic district leader in Queens. Mr. Baldeo, who surrendered to law enforcement this morning, is being accused of using a system of “straw donors” to fill his campaign coffers for his unsuccessful 2010 City Council campaign with “funds drawn from his own bank account disguised as donations from others.” He is also being charged with obstruction of justice for allegedly telling instructing the straw donors to give false information and say the donations were made with their money when FBI agents began investigating his campaign finances. In a statement accompanying the announcement, Mr. Bharara characterized the charges against Mr. Baldeo as proof his office will be continue to be aggressive in pursuing corruption investigations, something which he has earned a reputation for since being sworn in as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District in 2009.
Although federal authorities announced the contractor who headed the controversial CityTime automated payroll project will pay over $500 million in restitution, which will largely to to the New York City’s coffers, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the sudden cash infusion won’t be a budget panacea.
“We start out for the year after this with something like a 3 billion dollar deficit projected, so this will help close that,” Mr. Bloomberg said while simultaneously cautioning the budget will be one “where we have to make choices of ‘either or.’”
New York City Comptroller John Liu, who is campaigning for Mayor in 2013, saw his campaign treasurer Jenny Hou arrested this morning on fraud charges by the FBI and the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York. The charges represent the latest legal blow for Mr. Liu’s campaign. One of his chief fundraisers was arrested last November for orchestrating an illegal fundraising scheme.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s office, Ms. Hou “is accused of participating in a scheme that used ‘straw donors’ to funnel to the Campaign large, illegal contributions that were well above the individual limit … with the intent to fraudulently increase the amount of matching funds provided.”
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara and Department of Investigations commissioner Rose Gil Hearn announced today that CityTime, the Bloomberg administration’s automated payroll project is even more troubled than previously thought.
The officials now allege that nearly all of the $600 million earmarked for the project is tainted as they announced charges against four new defendants associated Read More