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Ex-city labor leader and Queens assemblyman Brian McLaughlin was hit with a ten-year prison term this afternoon for a $2 million spree of thievery in which he looted union, campaign, and state funds, and shook down contractors for bribes. (Background here and here.)
McLaughlin, 57, who led the city’s Central Labor Council and who once seriously considered running for mayor, didn’t flinch as federal District Judge Richard Sullivan pronounced sentence in Manhattan federal court.
“Your conduct harkens back to another era,” said Sullivan, invoking the name of Boss Tweed, the notorious Tammany Hall fixer. “It sort of staggers the mind.”
Moments before being sentenced, McLaughlin stood to say that he was “of course, very very sorry.” He apologized to his wife, and family as well as “those who I represented. I violated their trust. I make no excuses for it.” He said that since he was charged in the case more than three years ago, “I have had the opportunity to live my life the way I always wanted to live it.”
McLaughlin’s attorney, Michael Armstrong, asked that his client be sent to federal prison in Allenwood, Pa., and to be admitted to an alcoholism treatment program there. Sullivan set a date of July 21 for McLaughlin’s surrender.
Armstrong said afterward that “it’s too early to decide” whether he will appeal the stiff sentence. McLaughlin faced a range of eight-ten years in prison under federal guidelines, and federal prosecutors had recommended leniency in light of McLaughlin’s cooperation in ongoing criminal cases including indictments against Queens assemblyman Tony Seminerio, and electrical contractor Santo Petrocelli. But Sullivan said the ex-labor chief’s crimes were too many and too wide-ranging. He said McLaughlin had found “brazen and perversely creative ways to abuse” the trust placed in him by union members, and constituents. Sullivan added: “The cause of unions and working people has been terribly undermined by your behavior.”
The massive probe into McLaughlin multiple schemes began in 1999 and included the Department of Investigation, federal labor racketeering agents, and the FBI.
In a statement, city investigations Commissioner Rose Gill Hearn said: “For years, Brian McLaughlin abused his power and privilege as a politician and union leader. He exploited the very people he purported to serve by using stolen money to bankroll a lavish lifestyle that included country club dues and a new home in an affluent Long Island community. Today, in
federal court, Mr. McLaughlin was presented with the bill for his illegal conduct.”