NYC Politician Convicted on Serious Corruption Charges
New York City Councilman Larry B. Seabrook was convicted Thursday on corruption charges for orchestrating a plan to move hundreds of thousands of city dollars to friends, relatives, and a girlfriend through a network of nonprofit organizations under his control. The revelation was shocking to a city that has seen many of its politicians go down in the heat of political scandal.
A federal jury, after a three-day deliberation, found the longtime Bronx politician guilty of 9 out of 12 counts, including wire and mail fraud. The conviction automatically vacates his council seat, and he could be sentenced up to 20 years for each count. A special election will be held on November 6 to fill out the remainder of his term. Seabrook is expected to spend quite a bit of time in prison for the charges, and there are some who are angry that he betrayed the public trust.
Seabrook was found out after he began financing the nonprofits, ostensibly dedicated to running job training and diversity programs, through earmarks (specifically known as “Council discretionary funds” in this case). He then appointed his girlfriend, Gloria Jones-Grant, executive director of the organizations—a position that got her over $300,000 of the earmarked funds in salary and consulting fees. While it is not clear why appointing his girlfriend would be a problem, there are clearly indications that the feds were able to prove that the moves were made to benefit his family and friends, not the public that Seabrook claimed to serve.
This was the government’s second effort to convict Seabrook. Last year, a jury considered the exact same charges for over a week before reporting a deadlock on December 9; the judge in the case declared a mistrial. In federal government fashion, they came back again this year and finally secured the conviction that they were seeking. Seabrook is expected to appeal the charges and the sentencing as well.
Preet Bharara, US attorney for Manhattan, said in a statement that Seabrook “abused the power of his office to influence public contracts and to fund his own corrupt friends and family plan.”
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