Assemblyman Faces Jail for False Expense Claims

ALBANY (AP) -
Former Assemblyman William Scarborough (L) on Thursday leaves the federal courthouse in Albany with his attorney. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)
Former Assemblyman William Scarborough (L) on Thursday leaves the federal courthouse in Albany with his attorney. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)

A longtime state assemblyman from Queens pleaded guilty Thursday to theft and fraud charges, admitting in federal court that he submitted at least $40,000 in false expense vouchers for days he didn’t actually travel to Albany.

Under federal sentencing guidelines, Democrat William Scarborough faces 10 to 16 months in jail at his Sept. 14 sentencing. Under a plea agreement, he must repay $54,355 to the state and pay an equal amount in a federal penalty.

“These events that he faces today, for which he’s taken full responsibility today, really do not detract from the life he’s led and what he’s accomplished,” defense attorney E. Stewart Jones said. His client made bad decisions because of financial difficulties that started in 2008 but isn’t making any excuses, he said.

Scarborough declined to comment, saying he stood by last week’s statement. In it, he said he was unable to keep up with bills despite taking a second job, angry that legislators hadn’t had a raise in their $79,500 salary in 16 years because it’s considered part-time while he worked far more than the six-month legislative session.

“I made a terrible choice — to take advantage of a travel system where you simply said you were in Albany and were reimbursed, basically with no questions asked,” Scarborough wrote.