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Former Assemb. William Boyland sentenced to 14 years in prison

Brooklyn Assemb. William Boyland Jr. leaves federal court

Brooklyn Assemb. William Boyland Jr. leaves federal court in Brooklyn on March 5, 2014. Credit: Bryan Smith

Former Assemb. William F. Boyland Jr. was sentenced to a stiff term of 14 years in prison Thursday in Brooklyn federal court for agreeing to two bribe schemes in an FBI sting and claiming $71,000 in phony expenses as a state legislator.

The sentence imposed by U.S. District Judge Sandra Townes, apparently the longest in a string of Albany corruption cases since 2000, was more severe than the prison terms for better-known politicians like ex-Senate leaders Pedro Espada and Malcolm Smith, who got 5 and 7 years, respectively.

Townes said Boyland's crimes were so extensive and egregious that comparisons to other sentences were "hollow."

Townes noted that Boyland claimed expenses for Albany when he was in North Carolina, Virginia, Istanbul and in New York City discussing bribes with FBI undercovers.

"This defendant had no respect for the law," Townes said. "The defendant betrayed the trust of the office and his constituents."

"He is a perfect storm of corruption," prosecutor Marisa Seifan told the judge.

The sentence climaxed a stunning fall for a political dynasty. Boyland, 45, a five-term Democrat, followed in the footsteps of his father and uncle representing Brooklyn's Brownsville neighborhood. The family had been described as "The Kennedys of Brownsville."

Jailed since his conviction in March 2014, Boyland never wrote Townes a letter, and in brief remarks Thursday, didn't apologize, but talked to the judge about people he aided while in office.

"I thank God for . . . giving me the opportunity to help," Boyland said, calling public service his "passion."

Boyland was convicted on 21 counts of bribery, fraud, extortion, conspiracy and theft. He took $13,800 in bribes for helping to get a carnival permit and promising to seek state funds for a real estate development, and asked for $250,000 more, according to trial testimony.

He was also convicted of submitting more than 200 phony mileage and expense vouchers over five years, and funneling more than $84,000 in state funds for a nonprofit in his district into his campaign coffers. The judge ordered him to pay back the $84,000 and $71,000 in phony expenses.

Townes noted that most of the crimes were committed in an effort to raise legal fees while Boyland was out on bail in a Manhattan case on which he was ultimately acquitted.

She said recordings played at trial of Boyland plotting with FBI operatives left her aghast.

"After sitting through this trial and hearing Mr. Boyland on those audiotapes, I started out not seeing any redeeming characteristics," said the judge, adding that she later realized that "he did some good and some of the work he was elected to do."

Prosecutors had asked Townes to give Boyland at least 19 years in prison, the low end called for under federal guidelines. They said he never accepted responsibility, improperly tried to communicate with a witness, and even drove on a suspended license during his trial.

"It could have been worse," Boyland's father, William F. "Frank" Boyland Sr., told reporters as he left court.

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