On Oct. 28, 2010, Assemblyman William Boyland Jr. allegedly collected a $3,800 bribe from an undercover FBI agent at a fundraiser in Brooklyn. But state records show Boyland was collecting from the taxpayers, too – by claiming travel, food and lodging expenses as if he were on state business in Albany.
The latest federal charges against Boyland unsealed yesterday, barely three weeks after he beat an earlier corruption case, shine a spotlight on what prosecutors claim is a brazen pattern of trading government actions for cash payments.
But the 29-page complaint also details undercover agents’ secretly recorded conversations with Boyland in hotels, restaurants and his district office in New York City – on the same days he was claiming $165 in taxpayer-funded Albany expenses.
Boyland claimed $165 again Nov. 3, 2010, for an overnight stay in Albany, when the complaint alleges he was actually at a Brooklyn restaurant, meeting with an undercover agent and a carnival operator who was secretly working with the FBI.
“We pretty much have a green light here guys,” Boyland allegedly told them about a crooked deal to get carnival approvals through the city Parks Department. “We can pretty much do what we need to do here.”
While Assembly members are not required to attend legislative sessions in order to receive their $165 per day per diems, they are required to be at least 50 miles from their home district, doing legislative business, and staying overnight, according to Assembly rules.
Assembly members have said their expense reports operate on an “honor system,” because the reports are rarely audited, and no one in a position of power compares their attendance records to their payment requests.
Boyland has received more than $212,000 in travel expenses since he was first elected in 2002, claiming $35,000 last year on top of his $79,500 salary. He had the Assembly’s worst attendance record this year, missing 40 of 60 session days, yet claimed Albany expenses on days when his Facebook postings showed him elsewhere – and on 22 days when the Assembly marked him absent.
He put in a partial per diem on Feb. 17, a day the complaint says he received a cash bribe from an undercover agent at his Brooklyn district office while saying, “Let’s do it, let’s do it.”
He put in a full per diem on March 10, the day he was arraigned on separate bribery charges in Manhattan federal court. He again charged a partial per diem the next day, when the feds say he was at a Manhattan restaurant with two undercover agents discussing a potential real estate development deal.
And on June 7, he met with undercover agents at a hotel room in Manhattan to allegedly solicit bribes to pay his pending legal fees, a day for which he charged the legislature a full $165 per diem. The Legislature was in session that day for three hours, but Boyland was absent “with an excuse.”
The emails, text messages and recorded phone calls detailed in yesterday’s charges could help Brooklyn federal prosecutors win their case against Boyland. The lack of such evidence seemed a determining factor in Manhattan federal prosecutors’ inability to win a conviction on their earlier charges.
In his opening statement to the jury in that trial, Boyland’s lawyer Richard Rosenberg said, “There are not going to be any smoking gun conversations where you can point to and say, ‘There it is.’ That is not going to be happening in this trial. There is not going to be not one document, not one email that’s going to evidence a corrupt relationship.”
Yesterday’s complaint portrays Boyland as trying to raise money for legal fees by soliciting bribes to win city favors for an unnamed carnival operator, whom some sources claimed was Lawrence Carr, owner of Lawrence Carr Amusements Inc.
Carr donated $500 to Boyland’s reelection campaign in 2003, and has also donated to convicted Assemblyman Anthony Seminerio, who died last year in prison. Other politicians Carr and his wife made donations to include Sens. Malcolm Smith and Martin Dilan, Assembly members Bill Scarborough, Vivian Cook and Michele Titus, and the Queens County Democratic Organization.
Carr was indicted on bribery charges in August, accused of paying former Sen. Hiram Monserrate to help bring a carnival to New York City that had previously been denied.
Carr’s attorney Susan Kellman denied the amusement operator was her client, then added, “I’d assume I’d know if it were him. Maybe it is him, but if it is, nobody told me.”
Tags: $165, Albany, Anthony Seminerio, assembly, Bill Scarborough, bribery, bribes, brooklyn, carnival, corruption, expenses, Facebook, FBI, Hiram Monserrate, Laura Nahmias, Lawrence Carr, legal fees, Malcolm Smith, Martin Dilan, Michele Titus, Parks Department, per diem, Richard Rosenberg, Susan Kellman, Vivian Cook, william boyland
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