- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 17, 2006

NEW YORK (AP) — The president of the New York City Central Labor Council was arrested on federal racketeering charges yesterday, accused of stealing more than $2 million from the state, labor unions and a Little League baseball fund.

Brian M. McLaughlin, a seven-term Democratic state assemblyman and president of the umbrella group of municipal unions, has been under investigation for several years.

He surrendered yesterday morning and was released on $250,000 bail after a brief appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge James C. Francis. Mr. McLaughlin and his attorney, Jonathan Bach, declined to comment as they left U.S. District Court in Manhattan.

“Everyone should keep in mind that Brian McLaughlin has not been convicted of a crime and will be afforded the opportunity to respond to and defend himself against these allegations,” said the labor council’s executive board chairman, Denis M. Hughes.

In a 186-page indictment unsealed yesterday, Mr. McLaughlin and others are accused of engaging in racketeering from 1995 to 2006 by using money collected for union activities to instead pay personal expenses, including credit-card bills, rent and home improvements.

According to the indictment, Mr. McLaughlin committed mail fraud, embezzlement, money laundering and labor bribery by diverting money from various funds he controlled.

The sources of the funds identified were Mr. McLaughlin’s political campaign committee, union accounts meant to provide benefits for union members and contributions meant to support a Little League baseball program.

The indictment also says that Mr. McLaughlin and others misappropriated funds from the state by creating fictitious jobs on his legislative staff and submitting false expense forms.

Among the expenses cited in the indictment were more than $4,100 to maintain a boat in Tuckerton, N.J., and $4,200 for Long Island, N.Y., country club membership dues.

The indictment accuses Mr. McLaughlin of combining with others, not named in the indictment, to obtain hundreds of thousands of dollars in unlawful payments and things of value from street lighting contractors and other companies in the street lighting and traffic signal industry.

It also focuses at one point on a housing development created in 1950 by union leaders and electrical industry management that resulted in more than 30 large apartment buildings. As part of the development, residents created the Electchester Athletic Association Inc. to run youth sports programs.

The indictment says Mr. McLaughlin used his position as state assemblyman to direct state money to that athletic association, then defrauded the association of more than $95,000.

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