NYC councilman found guilty of corruption

Ex-New York City Council member Larry Seabrook during Ex-New York City Council member Larry Seabrook during a news conference on the steps of City Hall in Manhattan. (June 23, 2003) Photo Credit: Julia Gaines

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New York City Councilman Larry Seabrook was convicted Thursday of channeling city funds to his girlfriend, relatives and cronies through a group of nonprofits he controlled, seven months after another federal jury in Manhattan deadlocked on the same charges.

Seabrook, who has represented the north Bronx, was acquitted of taking a bribe to influence a Yankee Stadium boiler contract and using bogus expense claims, including a $177 receipt for a bagel, to launder the money. But he still faced up to 180 years in prison and automatic loss of his council seat after being found guilty on nine fraud and conspiracy counts.

The verdict, on the third day of deliberations, was a vindication for prosecutors who argued that Seabrook was guilty of a crime for routing City Council funds to a nonprofit he controlled that he knew wasn't competent to pursue goals like job development and fire department minority recruitment, even though no money went into his pocket.

"Councilman Larry Seabrook abused the power of his office to influence public contracts and to fund his own corrupt friends and family plan," said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. "Today's conviction ensures that the councilman will pay for betraying the public trust."

Impassive in court, a crestfallen Seabrook, 61, appearing outside with his lawyers, said he was considering an appeal.

"I continue to have faith in God, faith in the system, faith in my attorneys . . . and now will prepare myself for whatever comes next," he said.

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At trial, prosecutors argued that Seabrook orchestrated a scheme to use more than $1 million in city grants to pay for rents charged to his nonprofits, pay his girlfriend more than $300,000, and dole out consulting contracts to other friends and family, instead of fulfilling the social goals of the funds.

Seabrook, a former state senator and assemblyman, will be sentenced on Jan. 8. The city is expected to call a special election to fill his council seat.

"This conviction ends Larry Seabrook's power to channel the flow of taxpayer funds to himself, his family and his cronies," said city Department of Investigation Commissioner Rose Gill Hearn, whose office helped spearhead the case. " . . . His career as an elected official is over, and his life as a convicted felon begins."

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