McLaughlin Slammed With 43 Charges
By BRIAN M. RAFFERTY
After months of speculation as to the charges, federal and city officials unsealed Tuesday a 186-page indictment against Assemblyman Brian McLaughlin (D-Flushing) on charges of racketeering, campaign finance abuse, theft of funds from a local little league and a slew of other crimes that in total amount to $2.2 million in illegal gains and, if convicted, could land him in prison for a very long time.
McLaughlin, the president of the 1.5-million-member New York City Central Labor Council and an Assemblyman whose district cuts a swath through Queens from Flushing down to Richmond Hill, was elected to serve in 1992 and serves on several boards, including the Electchester Athletic Association.
According to the indictment, in June 2004 McLaughlin ordered money from the EAA to be transferred to pay a rental company in Albany for an apartment he kept upstate. When he was told that the money was being spent on softball, he allegedly replied, “All that money, he’s spending on other stuff, that ain’t his money…that’s mine.”
The money raised by EAA was solicited from McLaughlin’s Union, Local 3 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the Central Labor Council, elected officials and others with a sponsor letter that read “A child in sports stays out of the courts.”
The other criminal schemes alleged in the indictment include acts of fraud, embezzlement, and money laundering, as well as the receipt of payments and other things of value from companies that employed union members represented by McLaughlin.
According to the indictment, McLaughlin stole money from a J Division (the local’s streetlight unit) bank account; accepted payments from union contractors; secretly maintained an interest in a company doing business with union employers; and directed the activities of J Division members for his own personal gain and profit.
From his public office, he created fictitious positions on his legislative staff and pocketed the money, from his labor office he demand cash kickbacks, he had people pay for cars, apartments and furnishings, he misappropriated $19,000 from his own Democratic club, and took more than 330,000 in campaign contributions for his personal use.
In January, McLaughlin announced that he would not seek re-election for the Assembly, noting that part of his purpose in having the public office was to learn how to be a better union leader.
Rory Lancman, a district leader who is also a trial lawyer, is the Democratic candidate poised to square off against Republican-endorsed Morshed Alam in the race for the 25th Assembly District.
“Today’s indictment of Brian McLaughlin is a sad day for Brian and his family, and for the community as well,” Lancman said. “Everyone is entitled to the presumption of innocence in America, but the government’s allegations are extremely disturbing. I look forward to all the facts and evidence being presented, and to a speedy and just resolution of these charges.”
These charges include an organization to which McLaughlin donated money from his member items, a process admonished by many as being secretive and susceptible to corruption.
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said Wednesday that his office is working closely with the federal authorities investigating McLaughlin, though he has been asked not to discuss the nature of the inquiry.
A spokesman said that the Assembly has an internal process for watching the expenditures of public dollars, though they do recognize the serious allegations of fraud on McLaughlin’s part.