Campaign staffer steals $4K from Liu: Police

The campaign coffers of city Comptroller-elect and City Councilman John Liu (D-Flushing) were targeted by a campaign staffer who used $3,919 of the funds to make payments on his AT&T telephone bill, police said.
By Connor Adams Sheets

City Comptroller-elect and City Councilman John Liu (D-Flushing) was recently ripped off for thousands of dollars by a member of his own staff impersonating his high-profile boss, according to police.

Campaign staffer Lawrence Semmons, 24, of Brooklyn, allegedly stole Liu’s routing and account numbers from a paycheck, police said, then made three payments totaling $3,919 on his AT&T telephone bill from his campaign account by pretending to be the councilman.

“The important thing was it was detected immediately and as soon as we detected it, it was reported to the police, and as soon as it was reported, they dealt with it effectively,” Liu spokeswoman Sharon Lee said Monday. “It wasn’t a significant amount, fortunately, and nevertheless we did report it immediately.”

Semmons was arrested Friday on the following charges: one count of identity theft, one count of third-degree grand larceny, one count of fourth-degree grand larceny, one count of unlawful possession of identification and two counts of petty larceny, police said.

Lee did not have any further comment on the incident.

In an unrelated issue, about 60 managers in the city comptroller’s office have been told they will be out of a job when Liu takes over for Bill Thompson next year, the New York Post reported Tuesday.

“This is part of any transition,” Sharon Lee, Liu’s spokeswoman, told the Post. “As with any new administration, the provisional staff work at the pleasure of the comptroller-elect. I’m fairly certain this happened in 2001 when Comptroller Thompson entered the office.”

Sources told the Post that Thompson personally told each of his top managers the news.

Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at csheets@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.

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