prosecutions for public corruption by the Albany FBI 2015: 2 cases
Podcast 12 is kind of a companion document to this blog entry.
I used to say that the Albany office of the FBI had not initiated nor had any role in any convictions for political corruption for many years. 2015 changes that. Below the fold, the two cases I found on the FBI website.
There were 2 posted on their website. I don't know how many were initiated by the Albany office but at least the Albany office did have some role in three cases. The famous cases were all started downstate, many at the insistence of the US Attorney. If you have an FBI office in Albany you should be doing political corruption cases. Well, there is a billboard up somewhere around Albany encouraging people to call. So I called and recorded the conversation.
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -- Each workday, thousands of state workers commute from their suburban neighborhoods to the many state buildings scattered throughout New York's capital city. Based on Albany's remarkable penchant for corruption, odds are that a few of them have a story the feds would like to hear…
Former Assemblyman William Scarborough Sentenced on Fraud and Theft Convictions Defrauded New York State of More Than $54,000 by Submitting 174 False Travel Vouchers
U.S. Attorney’s OfficeSeptember 14, 2015
ALBANY, NY—Former New York State Assemblyman William Scarborough, 69, of Queens, New York, was sentenced today 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, announced United States Attorney Richard S. Hartunian of the Northern District of New York, New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, and Special Agent in Charge Andrew W. Vale of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Albany Division.
Senior United States District Judge Thomas J. McAvoy also ordered that Scarborough pay $54,355 in restitution to New York State and forfeit the same amount to the United States. Scarborough pleaded guilty on May 7, 2015 pursuant to a written plea agreement with the United States that required him to resign his position as a Member of the New York State Assembly.
Scarborough’s federal convictions relate to his wrongful receipt of per diem payments from New York State. Assembly members receive per diem payments when they spend time in, and travel to and from, Albany. Scarborough falsely claimed, and received, per diem payments for days that he was not in Albany or in transit to or from the city.
U.S. Attorney Richard S. Hartunian said: “It is a sad day when an elected official is sentenced to imprisonment, but it is a serious crime when such an official steals the state funds he is sworn to safeguard. Former Assemblyman Scarborough betrayed the people’s trust when he repeatedly lied about when he had been in Albany to line his pockets. We hope that this prosecution helps bring an end to abuses of the state legislature’s per diem system.”
As a New York State Assemblyman, Scarborough was entitled to receive the following types of payments when he traveled to Albany for legislative business: an allowance for overnight stays in Albany (full per diem), which varied from $160 to $171 per day; an allowance for travel not requiring an overnight stay in Albany (partial per diem), which varied from $49 to $61 per day; and reimbursement for mileage incurred for travel between his home and Albany. To receive those payments, Scarborough was required to submit travel vouchers to the New York State Assembly Finance Department certifying his dates of travel to and from Albany; the number of miles he traveled to and from Albany; the purpose of his travel; the days he was in Albany; and his eligibility for payment for either full per diem or partial per diem on each of those days. He also had to certify that the claimed amount was “just, true and correct.”
From January 2009 through December 2012, Scarborough submitted 174 fraudulent travel vouchers to the assembly’s Finance Department, causing the State of New York to pay him $54,355 that he was not entitled to receive. In the fraudulent vouchers, Scarborough falsely certified that he had been in Albany for legislative business on specific days when he had not been in Albany at all, had been in Albany for less time than he claimed on a voucher, or had not stayed in Albany overnight.
On May 7, 2015, in a related case investigated by the New York State Attorney General’s Office and the New York State Comptroller’s Office, Scarborough pleaded guilty in Albany County Court to grand larceny in the fourth degree concerning his misuse of over $40,000 from his Friends of Bill Scarborough campaign account and is expected to be sentenced today to one year of jail time.
“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.”
“Public service is a commitment, not a means for self-enrichment,” said State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. “Mr. Scarborough betrayed his oath of office. This case serves as a reminder: we are on the job, we are working together, and we will hold you accountable. I thank U.S. Attorney Hartunian, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Attorney General Schneiderman for their hard work on this case.”
“Today’s sentencing is the culmination of a vigorous and multi-agency investigation,” said Special Agent in Charge Andrew W. Vale. “No public official is exempt from law enforcement scrutiny; if they breach the public’s trust through stealing in the course of their official duties, they will be brought to justice.”
The federal case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Albany Division, and was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jeffrey C. Coffman.
Prosecuting the state case is Assistant Attorney General Christopher Baynes of the Attorney General’s Public Integrity Bureau. The Public Integrity Bureau is led by Bureau Chief Daniel Cort and Deputy Bureau Chief Stacy Aronowitz. The state’s investigation was handled by Investigator Mark Spencer and Deputy Bureau Chief Antoine Karam of the Investigation Bureau. The Investigations Bureau is led by Dominick Zarrella. Forensic Auditor Jason Blair, Legal Analyst Sara Pogorzelski, and Supervising Investigator Edward Keegan provided additional assistance.
The New York State Comptroller’s Division of Investigations conducted the investigation for Comptroller DiNapoli’s Office.
Halfmoon Town Supervisor Sentenced to 12 Months in Prison Melinda Wormuth Convicted of Extortion and Making a False Statement
U.S. Attorney’s OfficeDecember 10, 2015
ALBANY, NY—Former Halfmoon Town Supervisor Melinda Wormuth was sentenced today to one year and one day in prison as a result of her convictions for extortion and making a false statement, announced United States Attorney Richard S. Hartunian and Andrew W. Vale, Special Agent in Charge of the Albany Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
United States District Judge Gary L. Sharpe also sentenced Wormuth to serve a one-year term of supervised release, to begin after her release from prison, forfeit $3,000, and pay a fine of $7,500.
The sentence follows Wormuth’s August 10, 2015 guilty plea, during which she admitted that she accepted money in return for her official actions. She admitted that she received $7,500 in cash, which was characterized as “consulting fees,” in return for using her official positions as Town Supervisor and member of the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors to lobby for the legalization of professional Mixed Martial Arts (“MMA”).
“Public service is about dedication to community and country, not the use of official position for profit,” stated U.S. Attorney Richard S. Hartunian. “Taking money to lobby for legislation is illegal corruption that betrays the public trust. We will continue to work with the FBI, the Attorney General of New York, and the New York State Comptroller to identify and hold accountable officials who commit such crimes.”
“Ms. Wormuth exploited her position and the faith of those she swore to serve,” said Special Agent in Charge Andrew W. Vale. “This kind of criminality drains the public’s confidence in our leaders. The FBI stands determined with our law enforcement partners to investigate those who would further erode the public’s trust."
The charges were the result of an investigation by the Federal-State Anti-Corruption Task Force that includes the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the New York Attorney General’s Office, the Internal Revenue Service, and the New York Comptroller’s Office.
“When elected officials misuse their office for personal gain it betrays the public’s trust,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “This case shows that when elected officials break the law, they will be held accountable. I’m proud to have worked with my partners in state and federal government to bring this defendant to justice.”
“Ms. Wormuth abused her office and betrayed the taxpayers she was elected to serve,” State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli said. “I hope this sentence sends a clear message that this misconduct by an elected official will not be tolerated. I thank United States Attorney Hartunian, Attorney General Schneiderman, the FBI and the IRS for their continued partnership to fight corruption.”
Between April 10, 2013 and August 10, 2013, Wormuth sent letters on her official letterhead to state legislators in New York, requesting legislative action in favor of professional MMA. Wormuth performed no legitimate consulting work for the $7,500 payment, and she accepted this money understanding that she was expected to use her official position to promote legislative action in favor of professional MMA.
Wormuth also admitted that she lied to FBI agents during an interview on August 7, 2013. Wormuth stated that she had consulted with “K.T.,” a former Town Justice in Saratoga County, to obtain approval for her actions before taking the $7,500 payment. This statement was false because she had not consulted with “K.T.”
This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ransom Reynolds and Jeffrey Coffman, and by former Executive Assistant U.S. Attorney John Duncan.