ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Longtime state Assemblyman William Scarborough has pleaded guilty to federal and state corruption charges for filing false claims for travel reimbursements.
For 20 years, Scarborough has represented the residents of 29th Assembly District in Queens. Now, he’s become the latest state lawmaker to go before a judge in federal court.
On Thursday morning, Scarborough pleaded guilty to filing 174 false travel vouchers claiming he was in Albany when he wasn’t. Authorities said he cost taxpayers more than $54,000.
“This is a very good man who made some very bad choices. But those choices don’t negate the life, otherwise very well lived,” Scarborough’s attorney E. Stewart Jones said. “He did a great deal of good for his community, his constituents. He’s been a respected and accomplished legislator.”
On Thursday afternoon, the former Queens Assemblyman was back in court but this time in Albany County County. He pleaded guilty to using more than $38,000 of his campaign funds on personal expenses.
“I stand by my statement,” Scarborough said. “I think the statement expresses my feelings.”
The statement reads in part:
“During the time frame of the charges, I faced severe financial problems… My pride would not let me admit, even to my family that I could not be the provider that they thought I was … so I made a terrible choice – to take advantage of a travel system where you simply said you were in Albany and were reimbursed.”
Officials confirm the guilty pleas were part of a deal with federal and state authorities. Scarborough’s name has already been removed from his old assembly seat as a result of the public corruption investigation.
“A lot of times these cases start with, ‘Oh, I’ll take a little. No one will ever find it,’” Deputy Comptroller Nelson Sheingold said. “And it grows and it grows and grows. Ultimately, we’re all responsible for our actions, and when you’re a public servant, well, your actions affect people’s view of our government, and it’s even more reprehensible.”
Scarborough is scheduled to be sentenced in both courts on September 14.
He faces prison time, restitution of the taxpayer money, possibly lose his pension, and as part of the plea deal, the rest of his campaign fund.