Vincent Leibell

Last updated

Vincent L. Leibell III (born August 6, 1946) is a former politician from Putnam County, New York. After a long career in the New York State Legislature, Leibell ran for and was elected county executive in 2010, but resigned prior to taking office following an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation which led to his arrest and subsequent conviction on federal corruption charges.

Contents

His resignation was in connection with a Federal plea arrangement stemming from two felony convictions relating to kickbacks Leibell had received while using his position as State Senator to steer taxpayer monies towards two local non-profit agencies which he controlled. [1] [2] In November 2012, he was released to a halfway house after completed serving 17-months of his 21-month prison sentence at the Federal Correctional Institute in Loretto, Pennsylvania. [3] [4]

Early life and background

Leibell was born in New York City. His grandfather and namesake was a federal judge, Vincent L. Leibell.

Leibell worked as an Assistant District Attorney in the Westchester County District Attorney's office. He was a Captain in the United States Navy and a Rear Admiral in the New York Naval Militia.

Family

He is married, with three children. He received his BA and JD from Saint John's University, as well as an MPA from New York University. Because he was convicted of two felony counts of corruption in 2010, Leibell was forced to forfeit his law license. [5] According to the Daily News , Leibell pleaded guilty to two charges to end a Federal investigation of him. [6]

Political career

Leibell entered politics as a Republican. He was a member of the New York State Assembly from 1983 to 1994, sitting in the 185th, 186th, 187th, 188th, 189th, 190th. In November 1994, he was elected to the State Senate, defeating Ex-Lieutenant Governor Alfred DelBello.

Leibell was a member of the New York State Senate from 1995 to 2010, sitting in the 191st, 192nd, 193rd, 194th, 195th, 196th, 197th and 198th New York State Legislatures. In November 2010, he was elected Putnam County Executive. [7] [8] Over the years, he attracted controversy for his reputation for patronage and as a political kingmaker in Putnam County - the local newspaper cited the rumor that his preferred method of handling political opposition was to "kill them in the cradle." [9]

Although he had a twenty-eight year career in the State Legislature, Leibell was not particularly known for his legislative accomplishments and passed no significant legislation with his name attached to it, yet Leibell's largesse with so-called pork barrel spending and ability to "bring home the bacon" earned him the moniker "Uncle Vinnie". [10]

Even after being convicted of two felonies, Leibell attracted further scandal when it was revealed he used campaign funds to spend $931 on new tires and $267 in Barnes and Nobles visits days after pleading guilty on Federal corruption charges. [11] The government watchdog group Citizens Union called Leibell's actions part of a "legislative crime wave" in New York State, and named Leibell one of 17 legislators who lost their seat due to criminal issues from 2004 to 2010. [12]

FBI investigation, conviction

On June 26, 2010, the Journal News reported that FBI subpoenaed records for the home that Leibell built in Patterson, New York. [13] On December 6, 2010, Leibell pleaded guilty to felony bribery, tax evasion, and obstruction of justice charges related to $43,000 in cash kickbacks he took from 2003 to 2006. Leibell had resigned from the State Senate on December 2, 2010, just prior to being arrested, which controversially due to a loophole in the New York State pension system allows him to keep a $71,000 pension despite his conviction. [14]

The charges stated Leibell doled out $6.5 million in taxpayer funded "member items" to nonprofit groups he controlled from 2005 to 2010, according to records maintained by the Empire Center for New York State Policy and the Albany Project. [15] He was sentenced to twenty one months in Federal Prison, after a Federal Judge rejected a plea by Leibell's lawyer to have the former Senator sent overseas to do "nation building work" in the Middle East instead of jailtime, a suggestion which outraged the media and local residents whom Leibell had betrayed by his actions. [16] [17] [18] [19]

The Leibell property in Patterson, New York formerly belonged to the late actress Elizabeth Montgomery, who employed Leibell's law firm to attend to certain legal matters. Leibell later purchased a portion of the property after the settlement of the Montgomery estate. [20] Through use of Leibell's Senate position, the rest of the land became Wonder Lake State Park, which, from its founding in 1998 until 2006, had no discernible public access points. [21]

Critics called Wonder Lake a personal park for the Senator, but Lebeill tried to assert it was used by hikers, though the park was shuttered nonetheless by the State amidst the 2010 New York State budget crisis. [22] Leibell also used $230,000 in taxpayer dollars to construct a wooden footbridge on Route 311 in Patterson which critics derided as a "bridge to nowhere." [23] [24] Ironically, Leibell had moved to the home from Tammany Hall Road, named after the corrupt political machine run by Boss Tweed in mid-19th century New York. [25]

"Leibell has only himself to blame for the fact that, after 28 years in public office, this conviction will be the capstone to that career," said Preet Bharara, the United States attorney for Manhattan who announced Leibell's guilty plea. [26] Bharara explained that the FBI recorded Leibell threatening not to pay invoices sent to Leibell's 501(c)(3) nonprofit by an unnamed attorney unless the attorney paid half of the invoice amount back to Leibell in cash. [27]

Related Research Articles

Putnam County, New York County in New York

Putnam County is a county located in the U.S. state of New York. As of the 2010 census, the population was 99,710. The county seat is Carmel. Putnam County formed in 1812 from Dutchess County and is named for Israel Putnam, a hero in the French and Indian War and a general in the American Revolutionary War.

Operation Tennessee Waltz was a sting operation set up by federal and state law enforcement agents, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI). The operation led to the arrest of seven Tennessee state lawmakers and two men identified as "bagmen" in the indictment on the morning of May 26, 2005, on bribery charges. The FBI and TBI followed these arrests with an additional arrest of two county commissioners, one from Hamilton County, and the other a member of the prominent Hooks family of Memphis. Investigators also arrested a former county administrator.

Operation Boptrot, also referred to as Boptrot, was an investigation by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) into corruption among the Kentucky General Assembly, the Commonwealth's legislature. The operation was highly successful, with the investigation culminating in several indictments in 1992, leading to the conviction of more than a dozen legislators between 1992 and 1995. The investigation also led to reform legislation being passed in 1993.

The presidency of Ronald Reagan in the United States was marked by numerous scandals, resulting in the investigation, indictment, or conviction of over 138 administration officials, the largest number for any president in American history.

Robert J. Mellow is an American politician from Pennsylvania who served as a Democratic member of the Pennsylvania State Senate for the 22nd District from 1971 to 2010. He also served as the Minority Floor Leader from 1994 to 2010 and President pro tempore from 1992 to 1994.

Hiram Monserrate

Hiram Monserrate is an American politician from the State of New York. A Democrat, Monserrate represented New York's 13th State Senate District in Queens from January 1, 2009 until February 9, 2010, when he was expelled from office following a misdemeanor conviction for assaulting his then-girlfriend. He later served time in prison following a plea of guilty to federal corruption charges. Monserrate is also a former Marine, a former New York City police officer, and a former Member of the New York City Council.

Dean Skelos American politician

Dean George Skelos is an American convicted felon and former politician from Long Island, New York.

John L. Sampson is an American former politician and convicted felon. A Democrat, Sampson represented District 19 in the New York State Senate from 1997 to 2015. He is of Guyanese heritage. Sampson became Senate Democratic Leader in June 2009 and served as Senate Minority Leader from January 2011 to December 2012. Sampson forfeited his Senate seat when he was convicted of federal felony charges on July 24, 2015. On January 18, 2017, he was sentenced to five years in prison.

John A. Lynch Jr. is an American Democratic Party politician from New Jersey, who served in the New Jersey Senate from 1982 to 2002, where he represented the 17th Legislative District, and was Senate President from 1990 to 1992.

James Galante is a convicted felon and associate of the Genovese crime family, owner of the defunct Danbury Trashers minor league hockey team and also a racecar team fielding cars for Ted Christopher, and ex-CEO of Automated Waste Disposal (AWD), a company which holds waste disposal contracts for most of western Connecticut and Westchester and Putnam counties in New York. Despite this, he has been known to be a community-minded philanthropist, and his donations have included a new football stadium at New Fairfield High School and a pediatric emergency department at Danbury Hospital.

William Frank Boyland Jr. is an American convicted felon and former politician from the state of New York. A Democrat, Boyland represented District 55 (Brooklyn) in the New York State Assembly and was first elected in a 2003 special election. He forfeited his Assembly seat on March 6, 2014 due to his conviction on federal felony charges related to extortion, bribery, and official corruption, and he was sentenced to 14 years in prison.

The Alaska political corruption probe refers to a 2003 to 2010 widespread investigation by the Public Integrity Section of the U.S. Department of Justice, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Internal Revenue Service into political corruption of nine then-current or former Alaskan state lawmakers, as well as Republican US Representative Don Young and then-US Senator, Republican Ted Stevens. Sometimes referred to as "The Corrupt Bastard's Club" or the "Operation Polar Pen", the investigation focused on the oil industry, fisheries and for-profit prison industries.

Greg Ball (politician)

Gregory R. Ball was an American politician from 2006 to 2014, former active duty U.S. Air Force officer and member of the New York State Senate and the New York State Assembly. He is a resident of Fredericksburg, Texas.

Shirley Huntley

Shirley L. Huntley is a former New York State Senator, serving from 2007 to 2012. Huntley represented Senate District 10 in Queens County, which included Jamaica, South Jamaica, Springfield Gardens, Laurelton, South Ozone Park, Kew Gardens, Broad Channel, and Lindenwood. She pleaded guilty to mail fraud in 2013.

Peter J. Cammarano III is an American disbarred attorney, former Democratic politician and a convicted felon. He was the 37th Mayor of Hoboken, New Jersey, serving from July 1 until July 31, 2009. Cammarano was arrested by the FBI on corruption charges on July 23, 2009 as part of an international criminal investigation known as Operation Bid Rig; he resigned from office eight days later. He pleaded guilty to extortion in April 2010 and was later sentenced to 24 months in federal prison.

Operation Bid Rig is an ongoing, long-term investigation into political corruption in New Jersey conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service, and the United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey since 2002.

Kids for cash scandal

The "kids for cash" scandal centered on judicial kickbacks to two judges at the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. In 2008, judges Michael Conahan and Mark Ciavarella were convicted of accepting money in return for imposing harsh adjudications on juveniles to increase occupancy at for-profit detention centers.

References

  1. Leibell's housing foundation got $11.2M in grants|LoHud.com|The Journal News. LoHud.com. Retrieved on 2011-02-15
  2. ‘Dormitory Authority’ Builds a Bridge. Putnam County Courier. Retrieved on 2011-02-15
  3. "Liebell reports to Pennsylvania Federal Prison."
  4. "Leibell Released to Halfway House"
  5. "Leibell will not take office as Putnam County Executive". Journal News. (Dec 2, 2010)
  6. "Sources: Leibell to plead guilty to corruption"
  7. BREAKING NEWS EXCLUSIVE: Senator Leibell Steps Down as New York State Senator by Hezi Aris, Yonkers Tribune. Yonkerstribune.typepad.com (2010-12-02). Retrieved on 2011-01-11.
  8. Leibell will not take office as Putnam county exec, Bondi may stay on|LoHud.com|The Journal News. LoHud.com. Retrieved on 2011-01-11.
  9. ‘Uncle Vinnie’ brings home the bacon for his district. LoHud.Com. (2005-01-23)
  10. "Another Politician Falls, and Earth Barely Shakes". New York Times. Retrieved on 2011-01-11
  11. Bending the rules on campaign funds|LoHud.com|The Journal News. LoHud.com. Retrieved on 2011-02-15
  12. "New York lawmakers increasingly dogged by scandal". Wall Street Journal . Retrieved on 2011-01-11
  13. Lohud.com "FBI subpoenas records on Sen. Leibell's home" (June 26, 2010)
  14. "Retiring Nicely After Betraying Public's Trust". New York Times. January 31, 2011
  15. "Sidewalk Meeting for State Senator and Lawyer Leads to Guilty Plea". New York Times. Retrieved on 2011-01-11
  16. http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/sen_leibell_starts_prison_term_for_ei7LT3bvnMfUUV9ZH4N4OI
  17. Ball: Leibell disconnected from “reality and justice".
  18. Ex-Senator Gets 21-Month Prison Term in Tax Evasion Case.
  19. http://www.theexaminernews.com/leibell-sentenced-to-21-months-in-prison/
  20. "Leibell In Hot Water". Capitol Tonight. Retrieved 1-11-2011.
  21. "Senator says assemblyman spurred FBI subpoena relating to his home" Archived 2010-07-04 at the Wayback Machine . Putnam County Courier. Retrieved February 15, 2011
  22. Report: Feds study home. Times Union. Retrieved January 1, 2011.
  23. "Nonprofits Undergo Scrutiny". Putnam Courier. Retrieved 2-14-11
  24. "Political Nonprofits: Building Community or Aiding Corruption?". Putnam Courier. Retrieved 2-14-11
  25. "Culture of Corruption". Putnam County Courier. Retrieved 2-14-11
  26. "Leibell's Nonprofits Fall Under Scrutiny". LoHud.com. Retrieved on 2011-01-11
  27. "Leibell Guilty of Corruption". Putnam News & Recorder. 12-8-2010
New York State Assembly
Preceded by
Gordon W. Burrows
New York State Assembly
90th District

1983–1992
Succeeded by
Sandy Galef
Preceded by
George E. Pataki
New York State Assembly
91st District

1993–1994
Succeeded by
Willis Stephens
New York State Senate
Preceded by
George E. Pataki
New York State Senate
37th District

1995–2002
Succeeded by
Suzi Oppenheimer
Preceded by
John Bonacic
New York State Senate
40th District

2003–2010
Succeeded by
Greg Ball