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Friday, August 10, 2012

Betty Burney's brother convicted of corruption. How far does the apple fall from the tree.

Click this blogs title to read the wall street journal's article. Below is the piece with commentary sent from a reader. -cpg

New York City Council Member Larry Seabrook, a fixture in state politics for three decades, was convicted Thursday of illegally steering more than $1 million of city money to nonprofit organizations he secretly controlled and staffed with relatives and friends. ****(I believe he purchased thousands of copies of "If These Chains Could Talk" by Betty Burney Seabrook)

He is the second member in three years to be convicted on federal corruption charges stemming from the misuse of discretionary funds. Former Council Member Miguel Martinez was sentenced in 2009 to five years in prison for siphoning more than $100,000.

The verdict, reached on the third day of deliberations, marked the second attempt by federal prosecutors to convict Mr. Seabrook, 61 years old. An earlier trial on the same charges ended in a deadlocked jury and a mistrial in December.

The Bronx Democrat showed no visible reaction as the verdict was announced in U.S. District Court in Manhattan. Family and friends shook their heads but were quiet as each of nine guilty counts was read.

Outside court, Mr. Seabrook wore a broad smile as he spoke with his wife and attorneys by his side. "I continue to have faith in God, faith in the system, faith in my attorneys and faith in my wife and my family," he said. "Now I'll prepare myself for what's next."

Mr. Seabrook was immediately stripped of his $112,500-a-year council position. State law will still allow him to draw a pension. Mr. Seabrook's page on the council's website was removed, and his council district was listed as "vacant."

"Larry Seabrook has been convicted of crimes that display a galling abuse of the trust and confidence placed in public officials," Council Speaker Christine Quinn said in a statement.
Defense attorneys didn't say whether they would appeal. Attorney Edward Wilford said he respected but disagreed with the jury's decision. As the group left, Mr. Seabrook walked hand-in-hand with both his wife and another attorney, Anthony Ricco.

The conviction marked an ignominious fall for Mr. Seabrook. He had held public office since the 1980s, serving terms in the state Assembly and state Senate, before being elected to the council in 2001.

He was convicted of orchestrating three schemes between 2002 and 2009, when he allocated $2.5 million of discretionary funds to nonprofit organizations. At least $1.5 million of that went to what prosecutors called dubious groups that Mr. Seabrook staffed with relatives and friends.
Mr. Seabrook's alleged girlfriend, who testified at the trial, held positions of leadership at several organizations. In all, about $530,000 went to his associates. The remainder paid for the expenses, many inflated, of the organizations Mr. Seabrook controlled, prosecutors said.

The council member was acquitted of three counts involving accusations that he took $50,000 in bribes from a Bronx businessman to secure a boiler-installation contract at the then-new Yankee Stadium. He is scheduled to be sentenced in January.

During the monthlong trial, Mr. Seabrook's attorneys depicted him as a dedicated public servant who used the funds to improve his district. They insisted any alleged "chicanery" was done by staffers without the council member's knowledge.

The prosecution stemmed from a 2007 probe by the city Department of Investigation into abuse of discretionary funds. The council sets aside tens of millions of dollars each year for members to allocate to community groups. The probe also led to the 2009 convictions of two staffers for former Council Member Kendall Stewart.

The scandal cast a shadow over the political aspirations of Ms. Quinn, a likely 2013 candidate for mayor. In 2008 and 2010, she announced reforms to strengthen the vetting process for groups that apply for money.

A special election for the remainder of Mr. Seabrook's term will be held in November.
Write to Tamer El-Ghobashy at and Jennifer Maloney at

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