Brian McLaughlin, the scandal-scarred ex-city labor chief charged with stealing more than $2 million, was in federal court this morning asking a judge for more time to examine a “mountain” of documentary evidence that federal prosecutors say they will use against him.
Looking leaner and grayer than he did before his arrest in October on 43 counts of racketeering, mail fraud, and other charges, McLaughlin sat in silence alongside his attorney, Michael Armstrong, who said he still needed more time to sift through the records. “The mountain is still there, we are still working on it,” Armstrong told U.S. District Judge Kenneth Karas who set a new March 1st court date to assess the case’s status. “We’ll see then if the mountain has been conquered,” said Karas. Assistant U.S. attorney Daniel Braun, who is prosecuting the government’s case did not object to the delay.
The mountain consists of more than 100 boxes of evidence that the government has provided to McLaughlin, former president of the city’s 1.5 million-member Central Labor Council. The evidence is the result of a eight-year probe by the city’s Department of Investigation, the federal Office of Labor Racketeering, the FBI, and the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s office that was sparked when McLaughlin, who was also a power in Local 3 of the city’s electrical workers union, allegedly took bribes from a contractor looking to violate union manning requirements on a city street lighting contract. Investigators watched and listened for years as McLaughlin, a former Queens Democratic assemblyman, allegedly took more bribes from other contractors, and conspired to steal from his assembly campaign committee, the Labor Council, and even a little league sponsored by his local union. McLaughlin has denied the charges but has spoken to few of his former colleagues in the labor movement since his arrest.