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Queens Chronicle

Sentencing of disgraced former Qns. pol delayed

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Posted: Thursday, September 18, 2008 12:00 am

A federal judge has delayed the sentencing of Brian McLaughlin, the former union heavyweight and Queens assemblyman who pled guilty in March to racketeering and perjury charges.

McLaughlin was scheduled for sentencing before U.S. District Judge Richard Sullivan in courtroom 21 C in Manhattan last Friday, but after the government moved to delay the sentencing, the judge adjourned the case. A new date has not yet been set.

According to published reports, 56-year-old McLaughlin acted as a cooperating witness with the FBI in the recent investigation and arrest of Richmond Hill Assemblyman Anthony Seminerio. McLaughlin, at the direction of the FBI, reportedly recorded numerous conversations with Seminerio between September and November of 2007 in which the assemblyman made statements regarding Marc Consultants. The government alleges Seminerio set up the firm to essentially take payoffs in return for legislative favors.

Earlier this year, McLaughlin admitted under oath that he illegally took over $2 million in funds from a variety of resources: political campaign funds, union funds, and funds from employers around the electrical industry, whose workers he represented through his union responsibilities.

The plea agreement reduced McLaughlin’s sentence to eight to 10 years in federal prison. The maximum penalties for the two counts to which he pleaded — racketeering and falsification of a loan application to a federally-backed institution — are 20 and 30 years, respectively, and can command fines of over $1 million.

The plea agreement does not determine how much McLaughlin has to pay in fines, or how much restitution is owed from the estimated $2.2 million he has confessed to having stolen.

In addition to the 50-year sentence he could have faced if convicted at trial, McLaughlin could also have been punished for 42 separate counts not conceded in the plea bargain.

The one racketeering count comprised 23 separate acts, of which McLaughlin pleaded guilty to 21. Those included siphoning at least $97,000 from union accounts to a country club and to make payments for his car, to a female friend and to service his boat in New Jersey; defrauding the Electchester Athletic Association, which primarily ran a Little League baseball program in Flushing, of over $95,000 to give money to his wife and pay rent on an Albany apartment; and redirecting tens of thousands of dollars of campaign finance donations to pay for renovation work on a second home on Long Island.

Based in Flushing, McLaughlin served the 25th Assembly District, which includes Richmond Hill, Whitestone, Fresh Meadows and parts of Briarwood, from 1993 to 2006.

He announced he would not run for re-election in January of 2006, prior to the revelations of his illegal activities, citing a desire to concentrate his efforts with the New York City Central Labor Council, the local office of the AFL-CIO. He had served as president of the council for 10 years. Less than two months later, a team of FBI agents raided McLauglin’s office.

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