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Jimmy Meng gets month behind bars

Former Assemblyman Jimmy Meng walks outside of Brooklyn Federal Court Tuesday, where he was sentenced to a month in jail for accepting a bribe. Photo by Riyad Hasan
TimesLedger Newspapers

After former Flushing state Assemblyman Jimmy Meng was sentenced to a month behind bars Tuesday for taking an $80,000 bribe, his daughter, U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Bayside), said her family was ready to move on.

“I love my father very much. He made no excuses for his actions, took full responsibility for his behavior and accepted the consequences,” she said in a statement after appearing in Brooklyn federal court with other members of his family for the sentencing. “Hopefully, we can soon put this difficult chapter in our lives behind us so that he can be back with his family and grandchildren and move on to the next stage of his life.”

The 69-year-old served as assemblyman for the downtown Flushing area from 2005-06 and has remained an influential political force ever since. He was arrested in July for accepting an $80,000 bribe in exchange for offering to influence prosecutors in the Manhattan district attorney’s office, although Meng never attempted to follow through with his ploy, according to the office of Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch.

“Jimmy Meng sought to take advantage of his status as a power broker in the Flushing, Queens, community with only one design in mind: lining his own pockets,” Lynch said in a statement following his guilty plea in November. “Meng dangled the promise of justice for sale, but his claims of special access to prosecutors were nothing more than lies, designed to satisfy his greed.”

Meng had told an acquaintance who was facing charges of tax crimes that he could pass along the bribe money to several assistant district attorneys, who would then seek a much lighter sentence than the acquaintance was facing, according to prosecutors. But Meng reportedly never contacted anyone in the office and that acquaintance, Eric Hu, began cooperating with the authorities.

Between December 2011 and July 2012, Hu recorded numerous incriminating telephone calls with Meng, according to prosecutors.

In July, under instructions from the FBI, Hu handed Meng a fruit basket containing the cash at the former lawmaker’s lumber business in Flushing. Meng was promptly taken into custody.

Federal sentencing guidelines stated that Meng originally faced 12 to 18 months behind bars.

But while Brooklyn Federal Judge Allyne Ross said Meng took advantage of his prominent status in the community to enrich himself, she showed some mercy to the former lawmaker due to his age, community service record and health, the New York Post reported, sentencing him to 750 hours of community service, four months house arrest, two years probation and making him pay a $30,000 fine in addition to the prison time.

Meng, the first Asian American elected to the state Legislature, continues a long tradition of disgraced Queens political figures.

Former state Sen. Shirley Huntley, Queens Republican operative John Haggerty, late Assemblyman Anthony Seminario, former Assemblyman Brian McLaughlin, former Queens Assemblyman and then city and state Comptroller Alan Hevesi and former City Councilmen Hiram Monserrate and Dennis Gallagher have all been found or pleaded guilty to crimes ranging from fraud to bribery to forcible touching — just within the last five years.

Former Rep. Anthony Weiner stepped down from office in summer 2011 in the wake of a sexting scandal, but he never found himself before a judge.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at januta@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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