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Assemblyman charged in alleged scam

September 10, 2008 3:47:50 PM PDT
A 73-year-old Queens assemblyman is accused of receiving more than $500,000 in "consulting" fees that authorities say accounted to nothing more than veiled political payoffs. Anthony Seminerio was charged in scheme allegedly designed to defraud the public, using his three decades in the state assembly to afford clients access that "you can't buy for a million dollars."

Seminerio is alleged to have used his consulting firm, Marc Consultants, to solicit and receive more than $500,000 in consulting fees from people with business before the state.

In reality, prosecutors say Seminerio did little or no consulting work, and hid his clients behind a state law that enabled him to avoid disclosing their names.

The consulting firm was run out of Seminerio's home in the Ozone Park section of Queens.

Officials say Seminerio was recorded by federal investigators saying that he became a consultant because he was tired of doing "favors" for people, and wanted to instead get paid for it.

"And I was doing, I was doing favors for these sons-of-bitches there, you know, they were, they were making thousands. 'Screw you, from now on, you know, I'm a consultant," he was quoted as saying.

Seminerio added that if he left the assembly, he would lose "60 percent" of his consulting business.

Although he said he could not do business with the state, he did so anyway with several clients, prosecutors said.

Authorities say his dealings with several unnamed hospital executives demonstrated his ability to keep hospital money from being cut from the governor's budget.

In March, he reportedly told one hospital executive that he could get him more money from an assembly budget bill. When asked if he could get to the chair of the assembly committee, Seminerio responded, "I can get anybody you want."

The next month, he reportedly told another unnamed hospital executive that he has the kind of relationship with legislative leaders that "you can't buy for a million dollars." That conversation started with Seminerio asking "for my check."

That same hospital executive later told Seminerio that a state official "has not been such a great friend for us." Seminerio responded: "You got to tell me these things, and I'll break his balls, and I know what to break his balls about."

In another instance, Seminerio was approached about helping facilitate the privatization of some probation services.

An undercover, working with federal investigators, tried to offer Seminerio a payment, but the assemblyman refused.

"Let me produce something for you," he is quoted by federal prosecutors as saying. "If I produce, then, we'll, you know, we'll sit down and you'll congratulate me."

Seminerio, a Queens Democrat, was elected to the Assembly in 1978. Before that, he was a city corrections officer. He also owns a restaurant in Queens and is known to love Italian food.

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