In an email, a reader asks who is the most corrupt local politician to ever be elected? That’s easy. Brian McLaughlin. Find out what happened when Brian met Tony Seminerio in prison, the man be befriended by wearing a wire in exchange for leniency.
It’s eight more years in a federal penitentiary for disgraced ex-Assembly Member Brian McLaughlin (D-Flushing), whose name is a euphemism for corruption, looting, payoffs and bribery in Queens political circles – and was known to bed high-profile elected officials and campaign operatives.
McLaughlin, who was a former labor leader and seven term legislator is generally perceived as lower than wife-beater Hiram Monseratte, and definitely lower than elected officials who allegedly don’t reside in the districts they represent. Find out why.
That’s some intro! What does one have to do to win the Queens Politics 2011 Malfeasance award? Become the biggest crook in the history of local politics.
While Brian McLaughlin has been rotting away in Butner Federal prison for the past two years (8 more to go), his memory lives on in the annals of Queens Political history. This is the kind of guy that would steal your wallet then help you look for it.
Who did Brian McLaughlin STEAL From? The real question is whom didn’t Brian steal from?
Brian’s rap sheet is filed in over a dozen volumes but he is most remembered for his theft and embezzlement of $3.1 million from a Queens Little League including shaking down Local 3 Electricians, and Petrucelli Corp. engineers.
The judge said his crime spree was “mind boggling.”
Brian lived a life of luxury by exploiting children and non-profit organizations.
His catalog of wrongs to the court took a stomach wrenching 45 minutes to complete. With stolen funds, Brian bought his mistress an imported car, and even forced union members to kill rats in his basement, dog sit and hang Christmas lights without pay. See the News Buster article which claims the NYT ‘whitewashed’ the story and left out the “juicy details.”
Brian was a local guy trusted with the public interest and ended up only serving himself and his family.
Betraying Tony Seminerio
What most people didn’t know was who Brian was as a person. According to inside sources, Brian, also an ex-labor leader, was known to speak in a fake Irish brogue to help him fit in with union workers. What a tool! In a story that I will always remember, Brian –who was subsequently outcast by his colleagues after his indictment – betrayed the one guy that tried to be his friend. That friend was ex-Democratic Assembly Member Tony Seminerio.
Seminerio was no angel, but in a gesture of goodwill reached out to his embattled colleague, Brian – the only politico to do so. How did Brian repay Seminerio’s generosity?
Brian cooperated with the authorities by building a relationship of trust with him and ultimately wearing the wire that got Seminerio indicted. And he did it all with a smile.
What was going through his head? Brian thought he would walk for his cooperation by giving up Seminerio, the one guy that tried to reach out to him, but much to his dismay, my inside sources say Brian was shocked when he was sentenced to 10 years. “But I cooperated!” I’m sure that’s what he thought. Turns out for his cooperation in the investigation of Anthony Seminerio, who was sentenced to 6 years in a million dollar influence-peddling scheme , Brian was spared 5 years off of his sentence.
When Brian and Tony were sentenced, they were both assigned to the Butner Federal Correction Complex. While going to lunch for the first time in prison, Brian ran into Tony – the first time since he sung like a canary in the court room. Tony and Brian, both former teflon dons looked at each other straight in the eye.
Brian almost didn’t recognize Tony in his new digs. There he was in an off-yellow jumpsuit eating a prison special; bologne in hand. As the story goes, Brian looked up, dropped his lunch tray to the ground, turned tail and ran away as fast as possible. The guards were laughing. This would be the last time they would ever be in the same room together. Tony died in 2011.
I never met Brian. But I vaguely knew of his son from the neighborhood who was arrested in a prescription drug-selling ring last year. Furthermore Brian helped start the William Jefferson Clinton Democratic Club which he siphoned money from. Thankfully we have gotten as far away as possible from Brian’s legacy of malfeasance.
Did McLaughlin pay any of it back?
In August 2011, Celeste Katz reported that Brian has surrendered his $80,000 Mercedes and sold his $652,000 home in Long Island to help pay off the debt.
He was supposed to cough up the $783,000 remaining in his campaign account, and in March 2010 McLaughlin delivered a $457,253 check to prosecutors with the expenditure marked “preliminary order of forfeiture.”
Yet he still has more than $285,000 in the campaign war chest – sitting in a tax-free bond account earning interest, campaign records filed last month show.
McLaughlin’s lawyer, Michael Armstrong, said the ex-assemblyman “has turned over all his forfeited assets to the government and he is not standing in the way of anybody receiving payment.”
According to the Post Brian’s mom, 84, is also a victim of his corrupt deals,
Crooked ex-politician Brian McLaughlin’s mom has added her name to the list of victims in his epic, $3.1 million rip-off scheme.
Court papers filed by Ilene McLaughlin, 82, say she lost $145,000 that the former Queens assemblyman borrowed against his swanky second home on Long Island’s exclusive North Shore.
The widowed granny, who lives in a modest co-op apartment in Flushing, says in her self-filed court documents that she handed over the dough in March 2006 but never got a nickel back.
For his crimes against the neighborhood, Brian McLaughlin is awarded the 2011 Most Crooked Politician Award.