Embattled state Assemblyman Anthony Seminerio (D−Richmond Hill) pleaded not guilty in Manhattan federal court last week to charges stemming from allegations that he took $1 million in payments from those seeking his influence in Albany, court records showed.
Seminerio’s court appearance marked the first time he had returned to the Manhattan courtroom since September, when he was charged with mail fraud in a criminal complaint. His attorney, Michael Ross, entered the not guilty plea on Seminerio’s behalf, according to the New York Post.
The paper reported Seminerio became hostile outside the courthouse as reporters sought comment and photographers snapped shots of him, calling the crowd “f−−−−−− animals.”
The 73−year−old legislator faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted of the single mail fraud charge.
He is accused of taking $1 million from Queens hospital executives and from other entities who sought favorable treatment from the Richmond Hill legislator.
A criminal complaint filed against Seminerio in September claimed the legislator was caught on wiretaps demanding payments from a Queens hospital and from an undercover FBI agent posing as a businessman.
Speculation turned to Jamaica Hospital, but a spokesman did not confirm or deny the facility’s ties to Seminerio.
The criminal complaint lodged against Seminerio in September accused him of taking more than $500,000 in corrupt payments, but an indictment unsealed earlier this month bumped that amount up to $1 million.
Seminerio ran unopposed in November to win his 12th term in Albany.
Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e−mail at hkoplowitz
©2009 Community News Group
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