NY Assemblyman Sentenced to Prison on Public Corruption Charges

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Former New York State Assemblyman William Scarborough was sentenced on Monday to 13 months in prison after pleading guilty to fraud and theft. In a separate case, Scarborough has also pled guilty to grand larceny for misusing funds from his campaign account. Targeted by a Justice Department investigation into New York corruption, Scarborough has merely become another crooked politician arrested and convicted for abusing their authority.

Elected to the State Assembly in 1994, Scarborough represented District 29, which includes the borough of Queens. Between January 2009 and December 2012, Scarborough submitted 174 fraudulent travel vouchers to the assembly’s Finance Department falsely claiming travel expenses between Queens and Albany on specific days when he had not been in Albany at all. Entrusted with per diem payments that he was not entitled to receive, Scarborough ended up stealing $54,355 from the State of New York.

Between January 2007 and March 2014, Scarborough also stole over $40,000 from his “Friends of Bill Scarborough” campaign account. Instead of using the political donations towards his re-election campaigns, Scarborough illegally transferred the money to his personal account and deposited checks intended as contributions to “Friends of Bill Scarborough” into his personal bank. He also ordered his campaign committee to file 21 false reports to the New York State Board of Elections to cover up his crimes.

On October 1, 2014, Scarborough was arrested and indicted on 11 federal charges and 23 state charges accusing the assemblyman of stealing campaign funds and claiming fraudulent travel expenses. On May 7, Scarborough pleaded guilty to defrauding New York State of $54,355 and stealing over $40,000 in campaign funds. As part of the plea agreement, he also agreed to resign his position as a Member of the New York State Assembly, pay $54,355 restitution to New York State, and forfeit that amount to the United States.

On Monday, Scarborough was sentenced to 13 months in prison and two years of supervised release after being convicted of wire fraud and theft from a program receiving federal funds. In an effort to expose the rampant corruption in New York, the FBI Public Corruption Task Force and Operation Integrity, a joint task force that allows the State Comptroller to refer cases involving the abuse of public funds to the Attorney General’s office for prosecution, worked together to uncover Scarborough’s illicit activities.

“Today’s sentencing of Assemblymember Scarborough on public corruption charges sends a clear message that those who abuse the public trust will be held accountable,” said State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. “Assemblymember Scarborough’s jail sentence resolves one unfortunate chapter in New York State government, but crystalizes the need for comprehensive reform to clean up corruption in our state.”

In recent months, several prominent New York politicians have been arrested or convicted on federal corruption charges. On July 17, former FBI agent and New York Congressman, Michael Grimm, was sentenced on Friday to eight months in prison after pleading guilty to tax fraud. In connection with his guilty plea, Grimm also admitted to exploiting immigrant workers, underreporting wages, and repeatedly lying under oath.

On May 11, New York State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos stepped down a week after being charged with fraud, extortion, and accepting bribes. Earlier this year, New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver also resigned after being charged with multiple counts of conspiracy, fraud, and extortion. After Silver convinced Governor Andrew Cuomo to terminate the commission investigating his illegal activities, a lobbyist and close friend of Silver decided to cooperate with the Justice Department by testifying against him.

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