Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Seminerio Talking Plea by Pete Davis - The Queens Courier

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The attorney for Queens Assemblymember Anthony Seminerio, 73, said his client might be looking to cop a plea with federal authorities in order to avoid jail time, according to an article published in the New York Daily News on Sunday, November 30.

“An imprisonment for him would be much harder than for a healthy young man,” Seminerio’s attorney Ira Cooper told the Daily News. “It’s very hard to tell someone in his health that if you say you’re guilty, you could go to jail for years.”

In September, FBI agents arrested Seminerio after an investigation found that he allegedly made up a fake consulting company and used it to bilk more than $500,000 in bribes in exchange for actions he took as a New York State legislator.

The federal charges revealed that from April of 2000 through September of 2008, Seminerio, 73, set up a consulting firm, Marc Consulting, and received payments in return for actions he took as a law maker that would benefit those companies.

Seminerio, who has represented parts of western and southern Queens in the Assembly for 30 years, then would deposit the money from Marc Consultants into his own personal bank account, it was alleged.

Cooper told the Daily News that he has spoken with U.S. prosecutors about a deal.

“They’ve offered me something to plead guilty to, something like using a scheme or a device to embezzle, but it would open him up to those sentencing guidelines,” Cooper said. “In order to decide whether [to accept a plea deal], we need a lot more information from the U.S. attorney’s office, which at this point they may not want to give us. No one knows how much time he is facing.”

Multiple phone calls to Cooper’s office were not returned. A person who answered the phone at Cooper’s Rosedale law office said that Cooper would not be making any other comments at this time.

It is unclear if the charges facing Seminerio will affect whether he takes office in January. Seminerio just won reelection to his western Queens Assembly seat after running unopposed in the 38th Assembly District last month.

The next scheduled date in the Seminerio case is December 10 where a number of things could happen, including an indictment or plea, or the date can be rolled over to a later date.