Disgraced former state Assemblyman Brian McLauglin acted as an FBI informant to expose Assemblyman Anthony Seminerio’s (D-Richmond Hill) alleged practice of taking bribes from those seeking the legislator’s influence in Albany, sources familiar with the investigation said Friday.
One of the sources said it was clear from reading the federal complaint against Seminerio that McLaughlin, whose sentencing on federal corruption charges was delayed Friday, was the cooperating witness cited in the document.
McLaughlin, 55, signed a deal with federal prosecutors in March that recommended he serve between eight and 10 years in prison in exchange for a guilty plea on federal racketeering and false statements charges, according to the U.S. attorney’s office for the Southern District.
Seminerio faces a maximum of 20 years in prison if convicted on mail fraud charges. He allegedly established a consulting firm called Marc Consultants in April 2000 and charged his clients for providing them access to state legislators who could advance their interests.
Prosecutors, who filed the complaint against Seminierio in Manhattan federal court, claimed Seminerio did little or no actual consulting work. He turned himself into the FBI Wednesday.
The complaint said two unidentified hospital executives paid Seminerio $310,000 and complained to him that the assembly’s budget bill was “not good for us.” The executives also discussed their hospital’s plans to acquire another institution.
There were strong indications that the hospital referred to in the complaint was Jamaica Hospital, but a spokesman would not confirm or deny any involvement with Seminerio.
“We’re aware of the indictment against Assemblyman Seminerio. We’re also aware of the speculation that we are the hospital,” said Jamaica Hospital spokesman Michael Hinck. “I can’t comment on any relationship or linkage between the hospital and Assemblyman Seminerio.”
The case against Seminerio, a state legislator for more than 30 years, came as a shock to the borough’s political establishment.
“This certainly has hit the county with quite a splash,” said state Sen. Serphin Maltese (R-Glendale), who said he had been friends with Seminerio for many years. The two legislators’ districts overlap.
State Assemblyman Jeffrion Aubry (D-Corona) said he was one of four unnamed assemblymen mentioned in the 17-page complaint as meeting with Seminerio and an undercover FBI agent posing as a “client” of Seminerio’s consulting firm. He and the other legislators were not accused of any wrongdoing.
According to the complaint, the undercover told Seminerio he was interested in privatizing certain state probation services.
Aubry is the chairman of the Assembly Correction Committee.
Seminerio and the FBI agent met Aubry on the floor of the Assembly sometime in March, according to the complaint. The three met again at an Albany restaurant on April 15.
“I remember both occasions,” Aubry said.
“It is shocking,” he said. “I was taken much by surprise. I like Tony. Tony’s a guy who I’d be friendly with for any number of reasons.”
Seminerio “was using his own position, he was using the institution and me,” Aubry said. “That’s distasteful.”
©2008 Community News Group
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