Seminerio’s rap sheet gains extortion charge

By Howard Koplowitz

Seven months after being indicted on mail fraud charges, state Assemblyman Anthony Seminerio (D−Richmond Hill) was charged in a superceding indictment Monday night on allegations he extorted the president of a Queens nonprofit into making payments to the assemblyman’s sham consulting business and tried to extort a hospital executive as well as a consultant who works with health care organizations.

Seminerio, 74, was indicted on mail fraud charges in September stemming from allegations that he set up a consulting business in 2000 to collect $1 million in corrupt payments from entities seeking his influence as an assemblyman. The indictment returned Monday night is related to that case.

A woman who answered the phone at Seminerio’s Albany office Tuesday said he was in legislative session and did not have a statement.

Seminerio, out on bail on the original charges, was scheduled to be arraigned Thursday in Manhattan federal court, according to a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan. Any changes to Seminerio’s bail are expected to be discussed during the arraignment.

In new details that emerged from the superceding indictment, prosecutors claim Seminerio demanded that the founder of a Queens−based consulting company give him half of his company’s receipts after the founder hired Seminerio to help with a Medicaid HMO recruitment project.

The consultant, who was not named in the indictment, paid Seminerio $20,000 for his services in 1996 and the assemblyman demanded 50 percent of the gross receipts of the consultant’s company in 1999.

The consultant refused to hand the money over to Seminerio and the assemblyman allegedly retaliated by sending letters to some of the consultant’s clients in Queens, telling them he was no longer associated with the consultant and they should stop paying the consultant.

Seminerio also wrote in the letter that the consultant’s clients should hire him because the assemblyman “could do things that the consultant could not,” according to the indictment.

The indictment claimed the consultant lost clients and closed his political consulting business due to Seminerio’s alleged behavior.

Seminerio allegedly extorted the president of a Queens−based nonprofit into paying him $700 a month in consulting fees in January 2000 after warning that he would “kill” any bill in Albany that the president tried to have passed in Albany.

The president ended the payments in 2002 and hired an adviser who told Seminerio that it would be a conflict of interest for the assemblyman to do consulting work related to his duties as an assemblyman, according to the indictment.

Federal prosecutors also alleged that Seminerio tried to extort an unnamed hospital executive into hiring him for consulting work and drafted a contract for the executive to sign shortly after he took over a hospital in July 2004.

In 2005, Seminerio asked the executive to hire him “a number of times,” according to the indictment.

When the executive told Seminerio that such a relationship would be inappropriate, according to the indictment, the assemblyman asked him if he “knew how miserable” Seminerio could make his life.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e−mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 173.

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