New York State Assemblyman William F. Boyland, Jr. Charged with Bribery and Attempted Hobbs Act Extortion
Recordings Capture Boyland Soliciting More Than $250,000 in Bribes, Accepting Thousands in Bribes Solicited and Accepted Following Earlier Bribery Arrest
Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and Janice K. Fedarcyk, Assistant Director in Charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, yesterday announced the unsealing of a complaint charging New York State Assemblyman William F. Boyland, Jr. with soliciting more than $250,000 in bribes and accepting thousands of dollars of bribe money in exchange for performing official acts for the bribe payers.1 Boyland was arrested on Tuesday and was scheduled to be arraigned that afternoon before United States Magistrate Judge Joan M. Azrack, at the U.S. Courthouse, 225 Cadman Plaza East, Brooklyn, New York.
The criminal complaint alleges the following:
Between August 2010 and June 2011, Boyland solicited and accepted a stream of bribes from a carnival promoter ("CW") and two undercover FBI agents ("UC1" and "UC2"), whom Boyland believed to be out-of-state businessmen and real estate developers. In exchange, Boyland agreed to take official action to secure business opportunities for CW, UC1 and UC2.
Carnival Scheme: Boyland Takes Over $7,000 in Bribes
Starting in August 2010, Boyland, UC1 and CW met and discussed ways in which Boyland could assist CW and UC1 with CW's carnival business.2 All the meetings were recorded. In explaining how he could help them secure carnival locations in his district, Boyland stated that he had the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development ("HPD") "locked up," and stated that "we got HPD . . . we're there." Boyland and UC1 also discussed ways to "compensate" Boyland for his assistance, including by funneling payments to Boyland through a non-profit organization controlled by Boyland or through payments disguised as fees to a consulting firm.
UC1 ultimately made payments to Boyland. The first was a $3,800 payment in the form of money orders to Boyland's campaign account in October 2010. The second payment occurred in February 2011, in the form of a $3,000 check (where the payee line was left blank) and $600 cash. In that case, UC1 specifically told Boyland that he did not want the $3,000 check to be applied against the New York State campaign contribution limit of $3,800. Boyland replied, "Got it, got it, got it. Makes sense." Despite this, the $3,000 check was ultimately made payable to and deposited into Boyland's campaign account.
In return for these payments, Boyland told CW and UC1 that Boyland and his staff had engaged in discussions with governmental agencies to assist CW in obtaining leases and permits for his carnival business. In addition, at Boyland's direction, Boyland's staff provided UC1 with letters of support from Boyland, on his official State Assembly letterhead, on behalf of CW and the carnivals CW purported to be promoting.
Real Estate Scheme: Boyland Takes $7,000 Cash Bribe
After Boyland was charged with bribery in a separate case in the Southern District of New York on March 10, 2011,3 Boyland and a member of his staff contacted UC1 seeking a direct, personal payment of $7,000. In a recorded telephone call, Boyland told UC1 that he needed the money to "solidify some attorneys." Boyland stated that he was willing to travel to Philadelphia for the money and that he wanted the payment in cash.
On or about March 25, 2011, UC1 met Boyland at his district office in Brooklyn. During that meeting, which was recorded by UC1, Boyland and UC1 discussed real estate development projects in Boyland's district that Boyland had previously discussed with UC1 and UC2. UC1 made clear that the money he was going to give Boyland was coming from both him and UC2, and in response, Boyland stated, "We'll do business." UC1 then told Boyland that he and UC2 wanted state grant monies to help finance the proposed development projects. Boyland assured UC1 that the money was there and stated that his support was a "no brainer" because the projects are "right here at home."
At the end of meeting, UC1 gave Boyland the $7,000 in cash, and stated: "Knowing that if you think you want to bring someone else onboard or knowing that you'll be there politically for us is all that we're looking for." In response, Boyland made a "thumbs up" sign and affirmed that "the political thing will be fine in terms of just where we need to go because I'm thinking environmental and I'm thinking the two houses of the state and city. You know, the relationships are there."
Approximately one week after Boyland took the $7,000 cash bribe, he showed UC1 and UC2 different properties in his district. In a recorded conversation, Boyland assured UC1 and UC2 that certain zoning changes requested by UC1 and UC2 in connection with developing the sites were "not a problem." He emphasized that all the properties he was showing UC1 and UC2 were in his district, which "we have control over." Boyland later reiterated this point: "Everything we've seen I'm in control of. You know, I'm the politician. I'm the guy who can make that move over on this end, so we know the folks that can pull the sort of triggers we're looking for."
Hospital Buy-Back Scheme: Boyland Solicits $250,000 Bribe
On or about April 29, 2011, during a recorded conversation in a hotel suite in Atlantic City, New Jersey, Boyland solicited a $250,000 bribe from UC1 and UC2. Boyland proposed a scheme which called for UC1 and UC2 to purchase a former hospital in Boyland's district for $8 million, obtain state grant money to renovate the hospital, and resell it to a non-profit organization that Boyland claimed to control for $15 million. In exchange for the $250,000, Boyland promised that he would, among other things, arrange for the sale and take official action and use his influence to secure state grant money to allow UC1 and UC2 to renovate the hospital so that it could be sold to Boyland's organization for a profit.
During this meeting, Boyland promised that he would facilitate any needed state grants and also promised that he would arrange for one of UC2's purported investors to be awarded any demolition contracts related to the project. Boyland stated that "zoning won't be an issue," because he had "tons of friends" and knew "everybody on the Board" of the New York City Board of Standards and Appeals, which handles zoning issues.
Boyland further explained his desire to conceal his involvement in the bribery scheme. He stated, "I got a middle guy by the way . . . I gotta stay clean . . . I got a bag man . . ." Boyland also explained to UC1 and UC2 that he did not want to talk on the telephone about these activities and that he preferred in-person meetings: "I stopped talking on the phone awhile ago . . . I'm just saying there is no real conversation that you can have that, you know, especially with what we're talking about. You can't do that."
About one month later, Boyland, a member of his staff, and an individual whom Boyland described as a "developer" took UC2 on a site tour of the hospital.
On or about June 7, 2011, Boyland met with UC1 and UC2 in a hotel room in Manhattan. The meeting was recorded. Boyland reiterated that he wanted to be paid $250,000. UC2 offered to pay Boyland $5,000 for each introduction to another person who would accept bribes in connection with the development project. Boyland rejected the suggestion, stating that the people whom Boyland planned to introduce to UC1 and UC2 were worth more than $5,000: "I'm not talking about $5,000 folks. I'm talking about . . . people that can actually get these projects done and that's where we started off with. We started off, we didn't start off with, we can go with somebody who knows someone. We not talking about those folks . . . . We talking about the man."
"As detailed in the criminal complaint, the extent of the charged corruption is staggering," stated United States Attorney Lynch." The defendant had a strong political legacy, the trust of his community, and the privilege of serving it. Not content with these many benefits, the defendant is alleged to have auctioned the power of his seat in the Assembly to the highest bidder, for his own personal gain and to the potential detriment of the voters who elected him to office. Fortunately for his constituents and the people of New York, in this instance the "bidders" were working for the FBI. The message of this case is clear - we will utilize all available resources to protect the public's right to government free of corruption." Ms. Lynch stated that the government's investigation is continuing.
FBI Assistant Director in Charge Fedarcyk stated, "The charges announced today are all the more astonishing in light of the fact that Boyland allegedly committed much of the criminal conduct after he had already been charged in another bribery case. Boyland was unaware that it was two undercover FBI agents with whom he was arranging quid pro quo deals, and to whom he insisted on speaking in person to avoid the recording of incriminating phone calls. Recording phone calls is not the only method the FBI has available to fight public corruption."
If convicted, Boyland faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison.
The government's case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Roger Burlingame, Carolyn Pokorny and Lan Nguyen.
WILLIAM F. BOYLAND, JR.
1 The charges contained in the complaint are merely allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
2 As detailed more fully in the complaint, to obtain the permissions and/or permits necessary to operate carnivals in New York City, carnival businesses must obtain the support of local community boards and elected officials.
3 Boyland was acquitted of those charges on November 10, 2011.