By Jeremy Walsh
The owner of a Long Island City electrical company who bribed former state Assemblyman Brian McLaughlin was sentenced in Manhattan Monday to three months in jail, the city Department of Investigation said.
Santo Petrocelli Sr., 74, former owner of the Petrocelli Electric Co., pleaded guilty in July to making tens of thousands of dollars in illegal payments to McLaughlin, who represented Local 3 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, in 2004.
When Petrocelli is released, he will face two years of supervised release, the DOI said. He could have been sentenced to a maximum of five years in prison.
At the sentencing in Manhattan federal court, Judge Miriam Cedarbaum said she hoped the case would cause “people who may be tempted, as Mr. Petrocelli was tempted, [to] be discouraged from being drawn into supporting a corrupt union official over many, many years.”
McLaughlin, who was head of the Central Labor Council, pleaded guilty in March 2008 to racketeering and making a false statement on a loan application after stealing $2.2 million from groups, including unions and the Electchester Little League. He was sentenced in May to 10 years in prison.
Petrocelli, whose company employed Local 3 union members and won contracts with the city to maintain and install street lights and traffic signals, admitted to bribing McLaughlin with cash and the use of a company car.
Petrocelli left Petrocelli Electric in 2006 and investigators have said they will not pursue charges against the company.
“Today’s sentencing underscores the important message: City contractors who choose to engage in fraud not only risk arrest and prosecution but also their business with the city and potentially their freedom,” DOI Commissioner Rose Gill Hearn said in a prepared statement.
McLaughlin was a highly respected assemblyman who had held the seat for nearly 14 years and was considering a mayoral bid when he was arrested in October 2006. Among the thefts he admitted to in 2008 were $95,000 stolen from the Electchester Little League and more than $100,000 from the electrical workers union. He continued to work for the union after his arrest, doing electrical work at a Midtown Manhattan apartment complex.
McLaughlin’s sentencing was delayed for a year while he co-operated with federal investigators, helping to secure indictments against both Petrocelli and former Queens Assemblyman Anthony Seminerio. Prosecutors cited McLaughlin’s “detailed account of the history and nature of his dealings with Petrocelli” as part of a letter to the judge in charge of sentencing the former legislator.
Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.