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McLaughlin, a humbled recovering alcoholic, awaits sentencing

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Just over a year after pleading guilty to bilking millions of dollars from labor groups, his own re-election committee and the Electchester Little League, court papers paint former Flushing assemblyman and labor chief Brian McLaughlin as an alcoholic and an adulterer who has rebuilt his life after thumbing his nose at the law. 

In what may the clearest indication that the disgraced Queens power broker will finally be sentenced next week on federal corruption charges, his attorney submitted a 160-page memorandum containing nearly four dozen letters from friends, family members and community leaders pleading for leniency from Manhattan Judge Richard Sullivan.

“Mr. McLaughlin is at heart and core a good man who lost his way but has found it again,” his attorney Michael Armstrong wrote in a letter to Sullivan.

In the 47 letters submitted to the judge — who is scheduled to sentence McLaughlin May 14 in federal court in Manhattan — the former head of the Central Labor Council’s wife, children, Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor and erstwhile legislative colleague state Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose) call on Sullivan to issue probation in lieu of jail time.

“His fall from grace has been a heavy fall — two powerful and good paying jobs, influence and leadership in his union and community replaced by shame and guilt,” wrote his son, Brian McLaughlin. “Nonetheless, he has worked hard to improve his life and as a result has united our family.”

According to the memorandum, filed Wednesday in Manhattan federal court, McLaughlin joined Alcoholics Anonymous in 2005 the year before he was arrested to treat a longstanding alcohol dependency and has rebuilt relationships with his children after repeated infidelities led him to be estranged from his second wife, Eva.

“While we all regret the situation that my father has put himself and our family in, we also learned the power of forgiveness,” his daughter Kelly said. “I have watched my father transform these past few years.”    

The sentencing, if it occurs next week, would bring a close to one of the largest federal corruption probes in Queens’ history. McLaughlin’s sentencing has been delayed numerous times over the last year after sources told the TimesLedger he began cooperating with federal authorities on investigations that led to the indictments of Assemblyman Anthony Seminerio (D-Richmond Hill) and the head of Long Island City-based Petrocelli Electric Company.    

McLaughlin pleaded guilty to federal racketeering and false statements charges in March 2008 for stealing $2.2 million from a myriad of groups he was involved in over a period of several years.

Under federal guidelines McLauglhin was expected to be sentenced to between eight to 10 years in prison, but his cooperation could potentially limit or even eliminate the jail time he serves.        

Reach reporter Stephen Stirling by e-mail at Sstirling@CNGLocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, ext. 138.

Posted 6:33 pm, October 10, 2011
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