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Corbin pleads guilty to federal tax charges

Former Nassau County legislator Roger Corbin leaves court

Former Nassau County legislator Roger Corbin leaves court under an umbrella in Central Islip. (Jan. 25, 2010) Photo Credit: James Carbone

In a clear, firm voice, former Nassau County Legis. Roger Corbin pleaded guilty Monday to a seven-count federal felony indictment.

Corbin, who had a long career as a civil rights activist and politician, admitted to the entire indictment, which charged him with receiving $226,000 from a builder working on government contracts in Corbin's Westbury-New Cassel district.

The charges included three counts of filing false tax returns, three counts of income-tax evasion and one count of lying to federal agents.

After the plea, Corbin, 63, hugged his wife, Regina, but declined to comment after leaving the courtroom of Magistrate William Wall in U.S. District Court in Central Islip.

As a result of a plea agreement, Corbin, a first-time offender, is expected to face a sentence of 12 to 18 months, according to federal guidelines.

No date has been set for sentencing. Prosecutors Richard Donoghue and John Durham declined to comment.

Later Monday, in a statement through his attorneys, Thomas Liotti and Jennifer McCann, Corbin said: "I have always taken full responsibility for my actions but continue to believe that this matter should have been resolved civilly and I was unfairly targeted. It is time for me to move on with my life. I will continue to serve the public in whatever capacity I am permitted to do so."

Corbin, who had fought for the creation of the Nassau County Legislature and who had represented his Westbury district since 1996, lost the Democratic nomination for another term last year after he was indicted.

Corbin has had a roller-coaster career as both a civil rights activist and an elected official.

A Westbury native who attended Pace University and served in the Air Force, Corbin became a community activist. He worked to create the legislature to replace the old Board of Supervisors as a way to increase minority representation at the highest levels of county government.

Corbin also had a history of financial problems, including filing for bankruptcy three times during the 1990s. In an interview in 2006, Corbin attributed the financial difficulties to the struggle to pay for college educations for his four children.

Longtime associates in politics and community work yesterday had varying reactions to the plea deal.

Diane Yatauro:Minority leader Nassau Legislature.

"It's a sad time for Roger and his family and my thoughts are with them."

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Diana Coleman, a Hempstead activist, said Corbin "worked on behalf of all African-Americans to change the Board of Supervisors to something that would be responsive to all the citizens of Nassau County. Roger was lucky enough to win a seat on the new legislature and his departure will be the end of an era. Whether that is good or bad, time will tell. You could say we all lost a voice."

Perry Pettus, trustee, of the Village of Hempstead Board of Trustees, said: "I've known Roger a long time and this whole thing does not make sense to me. It is not the Roger I know. It's just something that's hard to swallow."

With Bill Murphy

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