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Friday, September 12, 2008

Top Priority: Anti-Corruption Campaign

NY Pol Accused of Taking $500,000 in Payoffs
The New York Law Journal by Mark Hamblett - September 11, 2008

Assemblyman Anthony S. Seminerio of Queens yesterday became the latest New York politician to be charged in the Southern District with corruption as he was accused of taking $500,000 in payments from entities doing business with the state and using a purported consulting company to conceal the transactions. Mr. Seminerio, 73, surrendered to FBI agents at 10 a.m. yesterday and later pleaded not guilty to a single count of theft of honest services mail fraud, 18 U.S.C. §§1341, 1346, which carries a maximum of 20 years in prison. U.S. Attorney Michael J. Garcia and Mark J. Mershon, assistant director-in-charge of the FBI's New York office, announced the charge at an afternoon news conference, with Mr. Garcia accusing the assemblyman of "selling out his office, violating the public trust and breaking federal law." Mr. Garcia also laced into the "absence of genuine transparency in Albany" for "providing cover" for public corruption. Mr. Seminerio, a former city corrections officer from Ozone Park, has represented the 38th Assembly District in Queens for 30 years. He allegedly conducted the fraud over eight years, beginning in 2000. Mr. Garcia said that Mr. Seminerio established Marc Consultants to take advantage of the state's Public Officers Law, which permits members of the Legislature to disclose income in the name of a business instead of listing the actual clients of the business.

One of those clients was a New York hospital whose name Mr. Garcia would not divulge. The hospital, whose funding was affected by the state budget, paid Mr. Seminerio $310,000 through the bank account of Marc Consultants. A Medicaid-managed health care plan affiliated with the hospital paid him an additional $80,000. Mr. Seminerio allegedly then pressed other lawmakers to help the hospital and lobbied the executive branch as well. Other allegations include an undercover agent paying the assemblyman $25,000 to arrange meetings with the chairs of Assembly and Senate committees to discuss proposed legislation and Brownfield development projects and additional payments to Mr. Seminerio from a fictional company that wanted the inside track on the potential privatization of components of the state probation system. Prosecutors said Mr. Seminerio did little or no consulting for either the hospital or the undercover agent.

The case against Mr. Seminerio was built through recorded conversations with the undercover agent and a cooperating witness, wiretaps on Mr. Seminerio's phones and the seizure of evidence from his office in Albany, his district office in Queens and his home. According to the complaint, in one recorded conversation with the witness, Mr. Seminerio can be heard saying he earned a reputation in the health care field after working on a health care bill over 25 years ago - a bill he said was among "favors" he did for individuals who would now be charged for his services. "I was doing favors for these sons-of-bitches there, you know, they were, they were making thousands," Mr. Seminerio is quoted in the criminal complaint. He also conveys to the undercover that his new approach was, "Screw you, from now on, on, you know, I'm a consultant." Mr. Seminerio was released on a $500,000 personal recognizance bond. A pretrial hearing has been scheduled for Oct. 10. Ira Cooper of Davidson & Cohen in Rockville Centre represented Mr. Seminerio. After the arraignment, Mr. Cooper said only, "He's tired. He's exhausted. Please excuse us. He's had a very difficult time."

Anti-Corruption Campaign

Mr. Garcia came into office vowing that public corruption would be one of his top priorities and his office has since leveled charges against several state and city officials as well as federal immigration officers. At the United Nations, they have charged and won guilty pleas or verdicts against officials in connection with the Iraqi oil-for-food program and a procurement scandal. In 2006, prosecutors indicted Senator Efrain Gonzalez Jr. of the Bronx on charges he stole more than $400,000 from nonprofit groups to whom he had steered state grants. A superceding indictment against the senator adding new charges was filed this summer. His trial is scheduled to begin next month. In 2007, prosecutors unsealed an indictment accusing Bernard Kerik, the former New York Police Department commissioner and one-time nominee to head the Department of Homeland Security, with corruption, including the failure to report a $250,000 loan from a businessman and repeatedly lying to investigators.

In March, Brian McLaughlin, a labor leader and a former assemblyman representing the 25th District of Queens, pleaded guilty to racketeering for, among other things, misappropriating $100,000 from a division of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, $185,000 from the New York City Central Labor Council, and $35,000 from the state for creating fictitious jobs on his legislative staff and pocketing the salaries for himself.

In April, Southern District prosecutors obtained indictments against two aides to New York City Councilman Kendall Stewart. Asquith Reid and Joycinth Anderson were accused of embezzling $145,000 from a charity that received funds through discretionary awards made by Mr. Stewart. More extensive charges were announced in June. In July, criminal charges were brought against Nigel Osarenkhoe, the deputy director of the Payment Services Office Department of the city's Administration for Children's Services. Mr. Osarenkhoe was accused of conspiring to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars in agency money designated for needy children. Meanwhile, other Assembly members have faced charges lodged by the Brooklyn District Attorney's Office. Both Clarence Norman and Diane Gordon were convicted of crimes and forced to resign their seats.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Where is Saint Andrew and his promised corruption probe of the court system? Obviously, he wasn't tackling this political corruption either. All this money changes hands and many know of it, but Saint Andrew averts his eyes from the evil. Saint Andrew will not hear of this evil, will not look into this evil and will not do anything against this evil.

Anonymous said...

Andrew is another buy-off and weak, coward member of the legal system that he he deals with daily!
No lawyer will take on the court system..they are petrified of the stupid wacko's running OCA!
If it isn't the FEDS or the DOJ, THAT WILL TAKE THIS ON... then we must do it as NY taxpying citizens.... outraged and ready to fight them all using any and all means!
I believe in the last scenario!

in hiding until kaye leaves said...

I'm very, very disappointed in Mr. Garcia. Did you know that S.D.N.Y. U.S Attorney Garcia used to clerk for NYS court-and-useless Chief Judge Judith Kaye. That might explain a lot, huh?

more from 'in hiding' said...

make that "corrupt-and-useless Chief Judge Judith Kaye"

gopher said...

put Tony Seminerio in jail along with all the people who should have done something about this years ago. This guy is not the only one.
when is Garcia & Co. coming to Westchester Co.? There's plenty of meat up here to chew on.

hear, see, say: no evil said...

In theory, top priority. In practice, bury everything.

Anonymous said...

what about judicial corruption? the illegal fixing of cases and destruction of transcripts? the fixing of judicial conduct complaints and attorney discipline complaints? if the judicial branch is not clean, nothing matters as that is the branch citizens go to when problems with the other branches and in the private sector. what is happening with this? what about all the documented medicaid fraud that has been submitted as well? where is andrew, garcia and johnson on all of this?

Anonymous said...

while not making any comment on the merits of the recent indictment of the Queens Assemblyman, $500,000 is Nothing when compared to the almost entire childhoods Taken by the Corrupt State Family Court / Foster Care / Medicaid systems where literally over 5-7 years of the lives of children have been lost to the parents and families with one case being reported to Garcia over 2 years ago when he published in the NY Post about submitting reports of corruption and this person has never been contacted by Garcia's office. When is he doing something about all of this in the Courts and OCA or is there merit to some of the comments about relationships with the courts?

Anonymous said...

a childhood can NOT be Given back by the Corrupt apparatus of the State once it has been taken which is why $500,000 is Nothing in comparison

a taxpayer said...

what are we getting for our tax dollars? It is clear that it is just lip service. Our public servants have become our masters. They have to be told that they work for US, remember we pay the bills. Andy C. has forgotten, his father did also and he lost an election.

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See Video of Senator John L. Sampson's 1st Hearing on Court 'Ethics' Corruption

The first hearing, held in Albany on June 8, 2009 hearing is on two videos:


               Video of 1st Hearing on Court 'Ethics' Corruption
               The June 8, 2009 hearing is on two videos:
         
               CLICK HERE TO SEE Part 1
               CLICK HERE TO SEE Part 2