Bronx City Councilman Larry Seabrook was arrested today on federal corruption charges. He pleaded not guilty and was released on a $500,000 bond.
Prosecutors allege that Seabrook tried to cheat New York City out of at least $2.5 million in council discretionary funds, also known as earmarks. A 13-count indictment, that includes charges he received corrupt payments, extortion, money laundering, and conspiracy, was unsealed today.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara alleges Seabrook funneled more than a million dollars to nonprofits that he himself controlled.
"Councilman Seabrook basically operated his own corrupt City Council-funded 'friends and family' plan," Bharara says.
Among the allegations are claims that Seabrook paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in salary and consulting fees to his girlfriend, his brother, his sisters, and his nephews. The indictment alleges that Seabrook submitted altered receipts for reimbursement, including one for a $7 bagel sandwich and diet soda that was made to look like the total was $177. Seabrook is also accused of attempting to direct millions to nonprofit groups he controlled.
Seabrook's office would not respond to requests for comment.
If found guilty, Seabrook faces fines and between five and 20 years in prison for each count.
Federal authorities and the city's Department of Investigation have been looking into how council members funnel money to nonprofits.
Seabrook is a three-term member of the City Council, serving since 2002. He is also a former state Senator and is currently an adjunct associate professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
Council Speaker Christine Quinn says the "deeply troubling allegations" against Seabrook are being taken very seriously.