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Queens Chronicle

Al Baldeo corruption trial set for Sept. 16

Charges connected to ’10 Council run

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Posted: Thursday, May 30, 2013 10:30 am | Updated: 10:34 am, Thu Jun 6, 2013.

The federal corruption case against Ozone Park lawyer and Democratic District Leader Al Baldeo is scheduled to go to trial in September.

A pretrial conference was held on May 23, motions are due by June 24 and the trial is set for Sept. 16 in Manhattan federal court.

Baldeo, who twice ran for City Council and was once a candidate for state Senate, surrendered to the FBI last October on charges of fraud and obstruction of justice.

He is accused of using fake donors to his campaign to receive matching funds from the city during his 2010 run for City Council. He is also charged with obstructing justice during the government’s investigation.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said Baldeo allegedly gave money orders and checks to people to donate to his campaign with false information in order for Baldeo to receive matching funds under the city’s campaign finance system for a 2010 special election to fill the seat vacated by Councilman Tom White Jr.’s death. Baldeo ultimately did not receive any public money in that race, which was won by Councilman Ruben Wills (D-South Jamaica). Baldeo finished fourth in the election.

Bharara also accused Baldeo of threatening contributors who cooperated with investigators.

In a statement made through his attorney, Baldeo denied any wrongdoing and said the case was politically motivated.

“The government’s crusade against Mr. Baldeo is particularly vindictive and discriminatory given that past history reveals that more sinister conduct alleged against establishment candidates often resulted in civil administrative proceedings — and not criminal cases,” the statement reads. “This case represents another example of overreach by prosecutors.”

Besides his 2010 race, Baldeo ran for the same seat, which includes Richmond Hill and South Ozone Park, as well as South Jamaica and Rochdale, in 2005 and ran for the state Senate in 2006, coming within 894 votes of then-Sen. Serphin Maltese.

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