Scarborough heads to prison on corruption charges

By Sadef Ali Kully

Disgraced former state Assemblyman William Scarborough was scheduled to surrender Tuesday afternoon into the custody of U.S. marshals to start his prison sentence after pleading guilty to fraud and corruption charges earlier this year, according to federal court records.

In September, Scarborough was sentenced to 13 months in prison and two years of supervised release by U.S. District Judge Thomas McAvoy after being convicted of wire fraud and theft from a program receiving federal funds.

McAvoy also ordered that Scarborough pay $54,355 in restitution to New York state and forfeit the same amount to the United States.

According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, he has not been assigned a federal prison facility but did make a request to the judge that he be assigned to the closest facility to Queens, where his family lives. He was assigned his prison inmate number 21628-052, according to Bureau of Prisons.

Scarborough pleaded guilty in May in a written plea agreement with state and federal prosecutors that required him to resign his position as a state assemblyman.

He was arrested and charged last year with 11 federal counts and 23 state counts stemming from a public corruption investigation, according to the state attorney general.

Scarborough’s federal convictions related to his wrongful receipt of per diem payments from New York state. Assembly members receive per diem payments when they spend time in, and travel to and from, Albany. Scarborough falsely claimed and was reimbursed for per diem expenses for days that he was not in Albany or in transit to or from the city.

From January 2009 through December 2012, Scarborough submitted 174 fraudulent travel vouchers totaling $54,355 to the Assembly’s Finance Department, according to federal court documents. In the fraudulent vouchers, Scarborough falsely certified that he had been in Albany for legislative business on specific days when he had not been there at all, had been in Albany for less time than he claimed on a voucher or had not stayed in the capital overnight.

In addition to travel voucher fraud charges, another set of public corruption charges arose from an ongoing investigation effort between state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, known as “Operation Integrity.”

In his state plea agreement, Scarborough admitted to stealing campaign funds for personal use between January 2007 and March 2014. He admitted to stealing $38,000 from the Friends of Bill Scarborough campaign committee in unauthorized cash withdrawals and transfers from his campaign account for his own personal use and taking checks totaling $3,450, which were intended as donations to Friends of Bill Scarborough for personal use.

Prosecutors said in order to hide his scheme, Scarborough admitted that his campaign committee filed 21 false reports to the state Board of Elections. He pleaded guilty to grand larceny in Albany County Court to a public corruption charge involving his misuse of over $40,000 from his Friends of Bill Scarborough campaign account.

Scarborough’s former state Assembly seat for District 29—covering Hollis, Jamaica, St. Albans, Laurelton and Rosedale— will now be occupied by Alicia Hyndman, a Democrat, who won the Nov. 3 general election last week.

In a letter written in April, Scarborough apologized to his long-time supporters: “It is not easy to admit that you have engaged in improper behavior and have fallen short of the standards that were expected of you in a responsible position.”

Scarborough pointed out in the letter that he had faced severe financial problems and he rationalized his actions.

Reach Reporter Sadef Ali Kully by e-mail at skully@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4546.

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