Queens Assemblyman William Scarborough has been indicted on state and federal charges for allegedly withdrawing campaign funds as cash for personal use.
Scarborough, a Democrat who represents the 29th District that includes Jamaica, is accused of stealing and misappropriating $80,000 worth of contributions and travel vouchers. If convicted of all the charges against him, he faces up to 37 years in prison.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli held a press conference Wednesday afternoon to announce the developments.The assemblyman turned himself in on Wednesday morning to authorities in Albany, Schneiderman said, and was arraigned on two felony charges.
Scarborough was indicted on 23 state counts for allegedly withdrawing $40,000 in cash from January 2007 through March 2014, and using those funds for his personal use. Schneiderman said Scarborough also endorsed campaign checks and deposited them into his personal bank account.
Scarborough, who was elected in 1994 and re-elected twice since then, also faces 11 federal charges for claiming $40,000 of per diem travel expenses for trips that did not take place, Schneiderman said.
“When people donate money to a political campaign, when the government puts up money to reimburse people for public expenses, we have to be able to trust that the money is going to be used for a lawful purpose and not just go to a politicians pocket,” Schneiderman said. “And when voters cast their ballot for a candidate, they really have to trust that that person is going to abide by the law.”
Schneiderman said Scarborough’s case is one of 50 public corruption cases pursued by his office over the past three years. “In my view, what we’re trying to do is change a culture, and I think there was a go-along, get-along culture where people would turn a blind eye to misconduct by others,” said Schneiderman, adding the corruption “permeated” local and state governments across the state.
“It’s a very clear message that we’re sending out today: elected officials cannot use taxpayer and campaign funds as their personal piggybanks,” DiNapoli said.
Scarborough has pleaded not guilty to the charges, and denied wrongdoing following his arraignment, according to media reports out of Albany.