By Sadef Ali Kully
Former southeast Queens state Assemblyman William Scarborough has asked the court to schedule the date on which he is to begin serving a sentence for corruption after his wife’s surgery .
Scarborough was sentenced in federal court Monday to 13 months in prison, two years of probation and a restitution fine after pleading guilty to federal and state charges for filing false travel vouchers for trips that did not exist wire fraud and misusing funds in his campaign chest.
He pleaded guilty in May under an arrangement requiring him to resign his Assembly post for District 29, which stretches from Hillside Avenue in Hollis through St. Albans and Laurelton ending in Rosedale along the Cross Island Expressway.
In papers filed with the judge, Scarborough’s attorney, Stewart Jones, submitted a letter from the hospital where Scarborough’s wife surgery will take place to ask that his jail term begin after the operation.
“We got exactly what we asked for,” Jones said about the sentencing, who pointed out that his client had received 80 character reference letters.
Scarborough is the most recent Queens lawmaker to be convicted of corruption. Former state Sen. Malcolm Smith, who also represented southeast Queens, was found guilty of bribery and corruption in a scam to have himself installed on the GOP ticket for mayor in the 2013 race. Former City Councilman Daniel Halloran of northeast Queens was involved in the same scandal and convicted months before Smith. Shirley Huntley, a one-time state senator from Jamaica, served a prison term after being found guilty of stealing public funds to go shopping.
City Councilman Ruben Wills (D-Jamaica), a former aide to Huntley, is facing grand larceny charges.
Scarborough’s federal convictions involve his wrongful receipt of per diem payments from the state. Assembly members receive per diem payments when they spend time in Albany or are traveling to or from, Albany. According to federal court records, Scarborough falsely claimed and received, per diem payments for days that he was not in Albany or in transit to or from the city.
In May, in a related case investigated by the state attorney general and comptroller, Scarborough also pleaded guilty in Albany County Court to a public corruption charge stemming from his misuse of over $40,000 from his Friends of Bill Scarborough campaign account. In state court, he pleaded guilty to grand larceny charges.
U.S. District Judge Thomas McAvoy also ordered Scarborough to pay $54,355 in restitution for his state and federal crimes.
As an assemblyman, Scarborough was entitled to receive the following types of payments when he traveled to Albany for legislative business: a full per diem allowance for overnight stays in Albany; a partial per diem allowance for travel not requiring an overnight stay in Albany; and reimbursement for mileage incurred for travel between his home and Albany.
To receive those payments, Scarborough was required to submit travel vouchers to the state Assembly Finance Department certifying his dates of travel to and from Albany; the number of miles he traveled to and from Albany; the purpose of his travel; the days he was in Albany; and his eligibility for payment for either full per diem or partial per diem on each of those days. He also had to certify that the claimed amount was “just, true and correct.”
From January 2009 through December 2012, Scarborough submitted 174 fraudulent travel vouchers to the Assembly’s Finance Department, for which he was paid $54,355 that he was not entitled to receive. In the fraudulent vouchers, Scarborough falsely certified that he had been in Albany for legislative business on specific days when he had not been in Albany at all, had been in Albany for less time than he claimed on a voucher, or had not stayed in Albany overnight.
Reach Reporter Sadef Ali Kully by e-mail at skull