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Judge declines to toss convictions of 3 officials in Nassau

A judge has denied requests to set aside guilty verdicts for three former government officials in a corruption case linked to a New Cassel redevelopment project.

In 2012, jurors convicted former Democratic Nassau County legislators Roger Corbin and Patrick Williams, along with Neville Mullings, who had led the North Hempstead Community Development Agency.

They found Corbin guilty of receiving a bribe and official misconduct, and Williams guilty on two counts of conspiracy. Jurors convicted Mullings on two counts each of conspiracy and official misconduct.

The panel acquitted the three of other charges from a 2010 indictment, when authorities said they steered a redevelopment project to a certain developer in exchange for $400,000 in bribes and other payments.

In his decision Tuesday, Acting State Supreme Court Justice Alan Honorof rejected arguments from defense attorneys, among them that the guilty verdicts were against the weight of evidence, and the trial was unfair because a lying witness' testimony wasn't thrown out.

Among other arguments, they said the court's instructions to jurors weren't sufficient, the prosecution's opening and closing statements were unduly prejudicial, and part of the jury's verdict was "repugnant as a matter of law."

But Honorof disagreed, saying, in part, that evidence from the more than six-month trial supported the convictions, "both in the eyes of this court and in the eyes of the jury."

Shams Tarek, a spokesman for Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice, said Thursday that a sentencing hearing is scheduled for May 22.

"Now that the court has rejected the defendants' baseless challenges to the verdict, they can be held accountable for their crimes, which violated not only the law but the public trust," Rice said in a prepared statement.

Tarek said Rice's office still is considering how to handle 17 other charges from the case that ended in a separate mistrial after a juror asked to be excused because of pain from a medical condition. He said those counts haven't been dismissed.

Authorities said Corbin now faces up to 15 years in prison, and the judge could sentence both Williams and Mullings to up to 4 years in prison.

Attorney Fred Brewington, who represented Mullings at trial and submitted a defense motion for Mullings and Williams, declined to comment Thursday.

Williams' trial attorney couldn't be reached.

Attorney Kenneth St. Bernard, who represents Corbin, didn't return a call seeking comment.

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