Today’s news:

Seminerio, 74, enters not−guilty plea

Embattled state Assemblyman Anthony Seminerio (D−Richmond Hill) pleaded not guilty in Manhattan federal court last week to a corruption charge alleging he extorted the president of a borough nonprofit and tried to extort a city hospital official, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office said.

Seminerio, 74, was arraigned before U.S. District Judge Naomi Buchwald on a superseding indictment that added new allegations from the original charges he faced in September.

Buchwald did not change the terms of Seminerio’s bail during his arraignment, the U.S. attorney’s spokeswoman said. The assemblyman is currently out on bail and working in Albany.

One of Seminerio’s colleagues said his legal situation is not discussed in Albany.

“Tony’s been coming to session and everything, so it’s an uncomfortable situation,” they said.

The original indictment claimed Seminerio set up the consulting company Marc Consultants in 2000 as a vehicle to accept $1 million in corrupt payments from entities seeking his influence in matters that normally come before state government.

In the superceding indictment returned by a grand jury March 23, prosecutors contended Seminerio pressured the head of a Queens nonprofit to enter into a contract with Marc Consultants for $700 a month.

The unnamed nonprofit president ended the relationship with Seminerio after he hired another consultant, who warned Seminerio that Marc Consultants was a conflict of interest with his duties as an assemblyman.

The superseding indictment also claimed Seminerio tried to pressure a city hospital executive into signing a contract with Marc Consultants.

The indictment did not name the executive, but said the individual was a private investor who bought a city hospital in July 2004.

Dr. Robert Aquino, owner of the now−defunct Parkway Hospital in Forest Hills, bought Parkway for $23 million in July 2004.

Aquino did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e−mail at hkoplowitz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 173.

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