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Here’s the indictment of councilmember Larry Seabrook presaged in press reports this morning. In the 13 counts with which Seabrook is hit, it is alleged he took — on his own behalf, and that of relatives, cronies, his girlfriend, and his wife — money for services not rendered and reimbursement for expenses not paid, and then attempted to cover it all up. Among the allegations:
Seabrook is accused of muscling the Yankees to award a boiler sub-contract to a company of his choosing, which then demanded a $13,000 “premium” (and got the contract); Seabrook then allegedly “directly solicited a series of payments” from the boiler company, laundering them through his political club. In commission of this fraud, he is said to have used doctored receipts — including one for “a bagel sandwich and diet beverage” costing $177 — and used the reimbursements for his personal use.
Also, it’s charged he submitted receipts “for expenses he could not possibly have incurred himself,” including gas drawn four times from the same filling station within the space of 45 minutes, and expenses “apparently incurred by his family, including his wife.” According to the indictment, Seabrook also failed to report these receipts and expenses in his campaign disclosure reports.
He’s also charged with extortion, as these payoffs were induced “under color of official right,” and with “travel and use of interstate facilities to confer illegal benefit on a public servant,” since he used the U.S. Mail to facilitate his alleged crimes.
City council discretionary funds — or what we like to call the “slush fund” — also come into it; Seabrook is said to have improperly requested and received “inflated” amounts to fund non-profits in his jurisdiction, and used the amounts to pay “thousands of dollars in salary and ‘consulting’ fees” to his girlfriend and relatives. The non-profs include the North East Bronx Redevelopment Corporation, the Bronx African-American Chamber of Commerce, and the African-American Civic and Legal Hall of Fame. The boards and management of these organizations frequently included Seabrook himself as well as his relatives and associates, often interchangeably among organizations. “Seabrook-related Non-Profits” received at least $2.5 million.
These parties then allegedly conspired to make “false and inflated claims” to the city council to keep the money rolling in.
The leasing scam mentioned in our prior Seabrook item also comes up: Per the indictment, three of Seabrook’s non-profs listed separate addresses from which they were sub-leasing, then paid rent to the Unity Day Parade, another Seabrook creature, part of which was then disbursed to the real landlords. Seabrook is said to have “grossly inflated” the organizations’ rent in these cases to facilitate the skim.
Some of the orgs are said to have double-dipped on reimbursements on other items, and sometimes to have received reimbursement on things they never paid for.
In furtherance of these schemes the alleged Seabrook conspiracy is said to have used the U.S. Mail, as well as phones and faxes, leading to further fraud charges.
Seabrook is also alleged to have OK’d council funding for the North East Bronx Redevelopment Corporation to handle a “diversity initiative” at a local college, despite the fact that the Corporation’s unsuitability to such a task had been revealed by city audit, and that the Corporation didn’t do the work. (Some work under the Corporation’s purview was performed by the Firefighter Society, to which the Corporation only paid a fee when a Society representative “threatened to go to the press.”)
Other, similar scams are also alleged, and more mail and wire frauds charged. The U.S. Government directs Seabrook to forfeit “all property, real and personal, that constitutes or is derived from proceeds traceable to the commission of the offense.” If the indictment sticks, this would add up to hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars. Seabrook is currently in federal custody.