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After three decades in government, former state Assemblyman Anthony Seminerio will spend the next six years of his life in federal prison. The once-powerful Richmond Hill politician left the courtroom dejected.
Although he was stone-faced when he stood before the federal judge, on his way out the door he conceded to reporters, “I’m 74 years old. How much time do I have left?”
Seminerio pleaded guilty to a single count of taking illegal payments from Jamaica Hospital. For $310,000 he promised to put in a good word for the hospital in Albany. Federal investigators listened in on more than 15,000 phone calls. They claim Seminerio collected more than a million dollars in illegal consulting fees.
Ironically, another crooked Queens politician, Brian McLaughlin, worked with investigators to set Seminerio up. He even introduced an FBI investigator working undercover to the assemblyman.
As she sentenced Seminerio, Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald questioned his motivation. “I don’t know why you strayed. Was it simple greed or did you rationalize your behavior?”
The sad truth may be that in Albany this is the way business is done.
It is hard not to pity Seminerio. But like McLaughlin, he shares in the blame not just for his own downfall but for destroying the public’s trust in state government.
Businesses that pay illegal consulting fees to politicians gain an unfair advantage over competitors. More must be done to root out corruption in Albany.
A Sacred Trust Violated
It was revealed last week that federal law enforcement officials are investigating Monsignor Michael Dempsey on allegations that he watched child pornography on his computer. He was removed from his post at Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church in Forest Hills.
The 77-year-old priest is innocent until proven guilty, but the accusation is disturbing. In a letter read by Monsignor Paul Sanchez at the Masses on the weekend of Jan. 23, Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio told parishioners, “You are undoubtedly aware of the deep suffering and hurt that surround any matter of child abuse, especially when allegations involve a member of the clergy.”
No matter the investigation’s outcome, damage has already been done.
©2010 Community Newspaper Group
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