His lengthy civil rights and political activism, his distinguished family history, and his claim that his criminal acts were a one-time "aberration," did not prevent former Nassau County Legis. Roger Corbin from being sentenced yesterday to 18 months in federal prison.
In sentencing Corbin for failing to report on his taxes $226,000 he received from a developer, U.S. District Judge Sandra Feuerstein at the U.S. District Court in Central Islip, disagreed with Corbin's claim that he had engaged in a single uncharacteristic action.
Feuerstein noted that Corbin had taken the money from a developer working in his New Cassel district in more than 70 payments in varying amounts over a four-year period, and then lied to federal agents about the situation.
"I'm concerned about . . . respect for the law and deterrence," Feuerstein said.
Feuerstein also ordered Corbin to repay to the federal and state government a total of $92,000 in back taxes on the $226,000, plus interest, to be determined. Feuerstein ordered Corbin to serve three years of supervised release after his prison term, and undergo gambling counseling.
Although Corbin denied he had a gambling problem, the judge noted he had gambled away $80,000 during the time he was accepting the contractor's money.
In a last-ditch effort to avoid jail time, Corbin, who had worked for the creation of a county legislature to provide a greater voice for the minority community, told Judge Sandra Feuerstein: "I never did anything [previously] against the law." Corbin added: "I apologize to my family, my friends and to my country."
In court papers, Corbin spoke of a long line of his ancestors who had served the country honorably, including, he said, a maternal grandfather, Hugh Mulzac, who during World War II was the first African-American to command a Liberty Ship. The ship, the Booker T. Washington, made 22 round trips across the U-boat-infested Atlantic, Corbin said.
But Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue said a jail term would be appropriate, telling the court: "Roger Corbin cheated the people he represented."
Corbin pleaded guilty in January to a seven-count federal indictment charging him with three counts of filing false tax returns, three counts of income-tax evasion and one count of lying to federal agents.
Corbin declined to comment after the sentencing. Corbin's attorney, Anthony Ricco of Manhattan, said of Corbin, "Everybody makes mistakes, including Mr. Corbin. Mr. Corbin respects the court's decision."