Former New York State Assemblyman William Scarborough, 69, of Queens, New York, was sentenced today to 13 months in prison and two years of supervised release after being convicted of wire fraud and theft from a program receiving federal funds, announced State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, United States Attorney Richard S. Hartunian of the Northern District of New York, New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, and Special Agent in Charge Andrew W. Vale of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Albany Division.
Senior United States District Judge Thomas J. McAvoy also ordered that Scarborough pay $54,355 in restitution to New York State and forfeit the same amount to the United States. Scarborough pleaded guilty on May 7, 2015 pursuant to a written plea agreement with the United States that required him to resign his position as a Member of the New York State Assembly.
“Public service is a commitment, not a means for self-enrichment,” said State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. “Mr. Scarborough betrayed his oath of office. This case serves as a reminder: we are on the job, we are working together, and we will hold you accountable. I thank U.S. Attorney Hartunian, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Attorney General Schneiderman for their hard work on this case.”
Scarborough’s federal convictions relate 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 received, per diem payments for days that he was not in Albany or in transit to or from the city.
U.S. Attorney Richard S. Hartunian said: “It is a sad day when an elected official is sentenced to imprisonment, but it is a serious crime when such an official steals the state funds he is sworn to safeguard. Former Assemblyman Scarborough betrayed the people’s trust when he repeatedly lied about when he had been in Albany to line his pockets. We hope that this prosecution helps bring an end to abuses of the state legislature’s per diem system.”
“Today’s sentencing of Assemblymember Scarborough on public corruption charges sends a clear message that those who abuse the public trust will be held accountable,” said State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. “Assemblymember Scarborough’s jail sentence resolves one unfortunate chapter in New York State government, but crystallizes the need for comprehensive reform to clean up corruption in our state.”
As a New York State Assemblyman, Scarborough was entitled to receive the following types of payments when he traveled to Albany for legislative business: an allowance for overnight stays in Albany (full per diem), which varied from $160 to $171 per day; an allowance for travel not requiring an overnight stay in Albany (partial per diem), which varied from $49 to $61 per day; 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 New York 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, causing the State of New York to pay him $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.
On May 7, 2015, in a related case investigated by the New York State Attorney General’s Office and the New York State Comptroller’s Office, Scarborough pleaded guilty in Albany County Court to grand larceny in the fourth degree concerning his misuse of over $40,000 from his Friends of Bill Scarborough campaign account and is expected to be sentenced today to one year of jail time.
“Today’s sentencing is the culmination of a vigorous and multi-agency investigation,” said Special Agent in Charge Andrew W. Vale. “No public official is exempt from law enforcement scrutiny; if they breach the public’s trust through stealing in the course of their official duties, they will be brought to justice.”
The New York State Comptroller’s Division of Investigations conducted the investigation for Comptroller DiNapoli's Office.
The federal case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Albany Division, and was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jeffrey C. Coffman.
Prosecuting the state case is Assistant Attorney General Christopher Baynes of the Attorney General’s Public Integrity Bureau. The Public Integrity Bureau is led by Bureau Chief Daniel Cort and Deputy Bureau Chief Stacy Aronowitz. The state’s investigation was handled by Investigator Mark Spencer and Deputy Bureau Chief Antoine Karam of the Investigation Bureau. The Investigations Bureau is led by Dominick Zarrella. Forensic Auditor Jason Blair, Legal Analyst Sara Pogorzelski, and Supervising Investigator Edward Keegan provided additional assistance.