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By Sadef Ali Kully

State Assemblyman William Scarborough (D-Jamaica) pleaded guilty to state and federal charges of wire fraud, theft and grand larceny and resigned from his Assembly seat last week, state and federal officials said.

Scarborough, 69, entered a guilty plea before Judge Thomas McAvoy U.S. District Court in Binghamton to federal charges of wire fraud and theft by receiving unentitled federal funds. He faces up to 20 years in prison on the wire fraud, ten years in prison on theft charges and fines of up to $250,000. He has also agreed to resign his Assembly seat and pay $54,355 in restitution to the state, according to his plea agreement.

Additionally, he admitted he was guilty of grand larceny on state corruption charges related to the misuse of over $40,000 from his campaign account. He is expected to be sentenced to one year in prison and to donate all funds remaining in his campaign account to charity.

Scarborough 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.

U.S. Attorney Richard Hartunian, state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli collaborated with the FBI Public Corruption Task Force in the public corruption investigation “Operation Integrity.”

According to court records, Scarborough was entitled to receive reimbursements for legislative business in Albany. In his plea agreement, Scarborough admitted that from 2009 through 2012, he submitted 174 certified fraudulent state Assembly travel vouchers to the Assembly Finance Department, for which the state paid him $54,355.

State charges arose following federal charges against Scarborough, who admitted in his plea agreement that between 2007 and 2014, he stole over $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 took checks totaling $3,450 intended as donations to “Friends of Bill Scarborough,” including 21 false reports filed to the state Board of Elections.

“My office is committed to rooting out corruption in the state Legislature, without regard to party, position, power or popularity. There is no delight in the downfall of a duly elected representative,” said Hartunian.

Scarborough, raised in southeast Queens, began his political career with Community Board 28 in 1977 and was first elected to the state Assembly in 1994.

Scarborough sent out a statement saying he would plea guilty and give up his seat a week ago, citing, financial problems because of the low salaries paid to Albany legislators.

“Many of my colleagues felt the same frustration with the salary situation as I did, but they did not act as I did. Many people making less than I do have suffered financial crises, and they have not acted as I did,” he said.

Community members and elected officials who have known him for decades said that it was a sad situation.

“Although his guilt does not erase the good he has done for Jamaica through his long tenure, I am saddened by this turn of events for him, his family and all of south Queens,” said state Sen. Leroy Comrie (D-Hollis).

Scarborough is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 14 in Albany.

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