Seabrook guilty of funneling $1.5M in taxpayer funds to friends, family
Last Updated: 2:38 PM, July 26, 2012
Posted: 1:03 PM, July 26, 2012
A federal jury today convicted embattled City Councilman Larry Seabrook on nine criminal counts that he funneled $1.5 million in taxpayer money to friends and family.
Seabrook was found guilty of trying to sneak the public funds to nonprofits that he secretly ran with what prosecutors called his "yes men and stooges."
He was immediately thrown out of office as a convicted felon, under state law.
“This conviction ends Larry Seabrook’s power to channel the flow of taxpayer funds to himself, his family, and his cronies,” Department of Investigation Commissioner Rose Gill Hearn. “His career as an elected official is over, and his life as a convicted felon begins.”
Seabrook emerged from the courthouse about an hour after the verdict, holding
hands with his wife, Maria Diaz.
"My reaction is that I continue to have faith in God, faith in the system, faith in my attorneys and faith in where we're going to go and my wife and my family, that I continue to have faith, continue to believe in the system and I'll prepare myself for whatever is next," said the convicted pol, who will remain free on bail.
Asked if he planned to appeal the verdict, Seabrook said: "Well we're talking to
my attorneys and we'll find out what's the next step.”
"We respect the jury's verdict,” said defense lawyer Ed Wilford. “We don't agree
with it but we respect it.
"And we're going to do everything we can to pursue Mr. Seabrook's legal rights
and remedies from this point on.”
Seabrook faces up to 20 years on each of the nine counts for which he was convicted.
Prosecutors said Seabrook used a phony $177 receipt for a bagel sandwich and a Diet Snapple as part of that alleged scheme.
“Councilman Larry Seabrook abused the power of his office to influence public contracts and to fund his own corrupt friends and family plan,” US Attorney Preet Bharara said.
“Today’s conviction ensures that the councilman will pay for betraying the public trust. Rooting out public corruption and restoring the public’s faith in honest government remains a vital mission of this office.”
Seabrook’s elaborate, three-part scam sent money to a city slush fund, job training program and a group aimed at bringing diversity to the FDNY.
This was a retrial of a prosecution that ended late last year, with a hung jury on all counts.
All jurors in this prosecution left court without making any comments today.
“Larry Seabrook has been convicted of crimes that display a galling abuse of the trust and confidence placed in public officials,” New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.
Voters will fill Seabrook's seat on Election Day in November. It'll be a non-partisan election.
The City Council will send staffers to Seabrook's district office, so none of his constituents lose services between now and the election of his replacement.
Additional reporting by David Seifman and David K. Li
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